A study published in the July 1st issue of the journal SLEEP finds that large segments of the U.S. population use valerian or melatonin to treat their insomnia.

The study, authored by Donald L. Bliwise, PhD, of Emory University in Atlanta, Ga, revealed that 5.9% of the people in the survey sample used valerian and 5.2% used melatonin.

“Within the United States, usage of alternative and complementary medicine is rising dramatically,” said Bliwise. “Within the limitations on the NHIS methodology, the usage of valerian and the usage of melatonin appear to be relatively high. Specific data on valerian usage and on melatonin usage in general populations, however, are relatively scarce.”

However, an evaluation of common oral non-prescription treatments for insomnia conducted by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine’s (AASM’s) clinical practice review committee did not find a beneficial effect for many of the herbal supplements, dietary changes and other nutritional supplements popularly used for treating insomnia symptoms, including valerian and melatonin.

The AASM does not support the use of such products for treating symptoms of insomnia. The AASM’s position statement on treating insomnia with herbal supplements can be viewed online at http://www.aasmnet.org/Articles.aspx?id=254.