The popularity of home remedies has risen, so it is important for people to be aware of the various risks, costs, benefits, and other issues regarding these products. The investigation included a variety of criteria to compare the ingredients, dosing instructions, warnings, costs, and other things regarding easily available products claiming to treat insomnia. These products have vastly different ingredients as well as costs and risks associated with them.
Unproven Remedies for Insomnia
The popularity of natural, homeopathic, herbal, and alternative medicines with the public has increased greatly over the years. This rise in popularity may be because many people do not like going to doctors, do not have health insurance, distrust pharmaceutical companies, and so forth. Purported solutions to almost any ailment are found in health food stores or on the Internet. A common problem for many people today is insomnia, so three products from The Vitamin Shoppe that claim to help with sleep were investigated.
The first product investigated was Natrol’s Liquid Melatonin (“Natrol”). This product comes in a two-ounce bottle which sells at the “Web Special” price of $4.03 and has a regular retail price of $8.99. The product does not claim to treat any conditions or act as anything other than a sleep aid. Natrol provided a warning to consumers advising them to contact a physician before using this product if taking tranquilizers, sedatives, if a person has an autoimmune condition, depression, or are pregnant/lactating. It also warns against operating machinery or driving while taking this product and says that it is not intended for use by children under 12. The directions for taking this product and the information on its dosing are very clear. It advises taking four droppers (4ml) 20 minutes before bedtime. A serving size is four droppers, and each serving provides 1mg of the active ingredient, Melatonin. The cost for three months of this product is $24.18 at the “web special” rate or $53.94 at the retail price. The Vitamin Shoppe’s return policy is clear: a product may be returned for any reason within 30 days. If unopened, a full refund can be issued, if opened, store credit will be issued. At the bottom of every page on The Vitamin Shoppe’s site are the words, “You should consult with a healthcare professional before starting any diet, exercise or supplementation program, before taking any medication, or if you have or suspect you might have a health problem.”
The second product investigated was Source Natural’s L-Tryptophan (“Source Natural”). This product is available in 120 500mg capsules, which sell at the “Web Special” price of $18.57 and have a regular retail price of $38.50. The product claims to help not only with sleep, but also with mood, relaxation, immune functions, circulation, a healthy nervous system, food metabolizing, and the production of hydrochloric acid for the digestive system. No warnings or contraindications were provided for this product. The directions were not clear on the website about how to take this product, but online chat support agent Matt was able to describe how to take this product. Each serving size is 3 capsules, and the amount of active ingredient per serving includes 575mcg of naturally occurring Iron and 1.5g of L-Tryptophan. The agent advised splitting up the dose at mealtimes rather than taking it all at once. The cost for three months of this product is $92.85 at the “web special” rate or $192.50 at the retail price. The return policy and advice on consulting a healthcare professional is the same as it was for the Liquid Melatonin product since they are on the same website.
The final product investigated was Yogi Tea’s Bedtime Tea (“Yogi Tea”). This product is available in packages of 16 tea bags, which sell at the “Web Special” price of $3.37 and have a regular retail price of $4.49. The product claims to help not only with sleep, but also relaxation, nervousness, restlessness, and mode improvement. The warning on this product is not to use it during pregnancy or nursing, and to consult a physician if taking MAO inhibitors or other prescription drugs. The directions were clear on how to take this product: it is advised to pour eight ounces of boiling water over the tea bag and allow it to steep for five to ten minutes. It also says that if a stronger effect is desired, to use two tea bags. The exact amount of active ingredients in each tea bag is not quite clear from the product information or packaging. It says that each contains 20mg of Valerian Root extract, 10mg of Passion Flower extract, and 1449mg of a “proprietary blend of herbs.” It lists a number of other ingredients without their amounts, including Spearmint leaf, Chamomile flower, Skullcap leaf, Cardamom seed, Cinnamon bark, St. John’s Wort leaf and flower, Rose Hip, Raspberry leaf, English Lavender flower, and Stevia leaf. Whether this list of plants is the “proprietary blend of herbs” or not is not clear, and additional research on the Yogi Products website did not offer any additional information. The return policy and advice on consulting a healthcare professional is the same as it was for the Liquid Melatonin product since they are on the same website.
Natrol (n.d.). Liquid Melatonin. The Vitamin Shoppe. Retrieved 27 April 2012 from http://www.vitaminshoppe.com/store/en/browse/sku_detail.jsp?fromCatId=cat10413&id=NO-1245
Source Natural (n.d.). L-Tryptophan. The Vitamin Shoppe. Retrieved 27 April 2012 from http://www.vitaminshoppe.com/store/en/browse/sku_detail.jsp?fromCatId=cat10413&id=SR-3007
Yogi Tea (n.d.). Bedtime Tea. The Vitamin Shoppe. Retrieved 27 April 2012 from http://www.vitaminshoppe.com/store/en/browse/sku_detail.jsp?fromCatId=cat10413&id=YT-1007