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Popular Herbal Supplement Shows Promise in Treating Menopausal Sleep Disturbances

Popular Herbal Supplement Shows Promise in Treating Menopausal Sleep Disturbances

According to results from a new study, a popular herbal remedy may come to the rescue of women suffering from postmenopausal sleep disturbances. About half of postmenopausal women experience some degree of sleep disturbance, which in turn impacts their quality of life.

With that in mind, researchers from the University of Tehran sought to determine if valerian, which has been associated with improved sleep quality, would help postmenopausal women experiencing insomnia.

The researchers conducted a randomized, triple-blind, controlled trial of 100 women who were postmenopausal, between the ages of 50 and 60 years old and reported insomnia problems. Women were randomly assigned to receive either 530 mg of concentrated valerian extract or placebo twice daily for two weeks. In comparison with the placebo group, women in the intervention reported a significant change in their quality of sleep (p<0.001). The researchers also found that 30% of participants who received valerian showed an improvement in quality of sleep, as compared to 4% of participants who were in the placebo group. None of the patients reported side effects.

A member of the Valerianaceae family, valerian (Valeriana officinalis) is a perennial plant native to Europe and Asia; the herb is widely available as a dietary supplement. There is no scientific consensus on the herb’s mechanisms of action, but constituents of valerian have been shown to have sedative effects in animals. Efficacy and clinical studies of valerian’s use for treating insomnia have been inconclusive. Long-term safety data is not available, but few adverse events have been reported. Side effects are usually mild, and generally include headache and or upset stomach. And since the supplements are relative inexpensive, they can be an affordable option.

Considering the relative safety of valerian, it might be a useful tool for clinicians treating women suffering from postmenopausal sleep disturbances. “Valerian improves the quality of sleep in women with menopause who are experiencing insomnia,” the researchers concluded. “Findings from this study add support to the reported effectiveness of valerian in the clinical management of insomnia.”

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Taavoni S, Ekbatani N, Kashaniyan M, Haghani H. Effect of valerian on sleep quality in postmenopausal women: a randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial. Menopause. 2011;18(9):951-5.
Norton A. Valerian may aid menopausal sleep problems. Medscape News. Accessed September 11, 2011.

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