I will continue my investigation of the “BLANK MD” product line. Check here for the beginning of my series. The ingredients in SLEEP MD can be found here.
The first ingredient listed, white willow bark, is also known as Salix alba. “Salix” is Latin for “willow” so that’s logical. They isolated salicin in 1828 from the bark. It is a derivative of salicylic acid, hence it does have ability to treat fever. Sometimes I hear NSAIDS make patients sleepy, so I suppose this may have utility, or if your insomnia is due to pain, in which case I might see a doctor (shudder).
There is a delicious helping of “Valerian extract”. (it says “deodorized grade”, so the stinky version must not be so helpful). A journal called “Sleep Medicine” (gee, I wonder what that’s about) published a systematic review of the literature on this tasty herb and guess what? I’ll quote them:
“The evidence for valerian as a treatment for insomnia is inconclusive.”
So far, we have a weak pain reliever and an inconclusive stinky herb. What else is in this crud?
There’s some lemon balm and hops extract. Maybe a Mike’s Hard Lemonade is in order.
OK, what about our old friend melatonin? In the 1950’s, the hormone melatonin was isolated, and over the years it was discovered that the pineal gland releases more melatonin when it’s dark, and inhibits its production when it’s light out. A study in the Lancet from 1995 seemed to find melatonin helped in elderly patients, but there were only TWELVE people in the study!
Studies done in the journal Sleep indicated young adults had faster time to sleep and a deeper hypnotic state (wheeeee…) There’s also inconsistent results in allieviating jet lag. Most of the studies are summarized in a nice review in the NEJM here. The most fascinating (to me) is that melatonin may slow METASTATIC BREAST CANCER! That’s right! You heard it here first folks (well, not first, but anyway.) Check out the citation here.
A review of chronic insomnia in the NEJM in 2005 notes the following:
Studies of melatonin, which have involved small numbers of subjects treated for short periods with various doses and formulations, have demonstrated conflicting results.
So melatonin may (or may not) help sleep onset, jet lag, and sleep potency.
Passionflower extract is also an old time medicine used for insomnia and anxiety. The problem is that no good scientific data exists to intelligently evaluate this compound. If you don’t believe me, just read these learned people here. Ditto for the Scutellaria lateriflora.
Coenzyme Q10 rounds out the slop, but I couldn’t find treatment of insomnia as even one of the common uses of this supplement. You can find a nice list here
So this is how Marvin Heuer, MD and this band of quacks make the big bucks. They package melatonin and valerian root together with some other garbage that has no science to back it up, and call it “SLEEP MD”!
All in a days’ work for these chowderheads.
By the way, melatonin from drugstore.com – 5.99 for 120 tablets
SLEEP MD from drugstore.com - 15.99 for 30 tablets..