Bottom Line/HEALTH:A lot of people are suffering from sleep problems, and a lot of people are taking some form of sleeping pill. Are there herbal remedies that are safer and effective?
Andrew Rubman, ND:Absolutely. That may not be ultimately the way that you want to go, but in the short-term, most definitely. There are good herbal or botanical remedies that have been used to help sleep problems for literally thousands of years.
Bottom Line What’s your favorite?
Dr. Rubman:My favorite is valerian. It’s been used for pain mitigation, and as a matter of fact, it was the inspiration for valium.
Bottom Line:If it’s connected to valium, is there any kind of reliance issue with taking valerian?
Dr. Rubman:Good question. There is with the drug…there isn’t with the herb.
Bottom Line:Anything else that you in particular recommend people to use?
Dr. Rubman:L-tryptophan, or 5 hydroxytryptophan—its more potent source—helps with the creation of serotonin. I like to explain to patients, it’s kind of a “Goodnight Moon” supplement.
Bottom Line:How’s that?
Dr. RubmanMakes everything go nice, calm, relaxed. Just like in the children’s storybook, everything sort of fades to black.
Bottom Line:When you take things like L-tryptophan or valerian, is it episodic? Do I take it before I go to bed, like people do for their sleeping pills? Or like L-tryptophan—something that I need to take on an ongoing basis?
Dr. RubmanIt can be both. It’s best used when it’s episodic so that the body doesn’t develop a tolerance for it. With L-tryptophan, it’s mostly a concern that one takes it away from meals. If you want to take it with a little something, a little bit of fruit is often useful. With valerian, 45 minutes to an hour before going to bed. And if you still find yourself up running things through your mind after 45 minutes, take another one. And then also get a good source of it, too. Because just like with everything else in the world, there’s good stuff and not so good stuff.
Bottom Line:How can you tell what’s good and not good?
Dr. Rubman:I’d say get the best product that’s on the market. My choice is the freeze-dried extract of valerian that’s made by Eclectic Institute. Works very well. Very safe.
Bottom Line:How does somebody know from looking at a label what is the good valerian versus the not so good?
Dr. Rubman:Very difficult to tell. The active part of the plant is the root. If it’s a whole-plant extract, it’s going to be less active, number one. Number two, in general, the tinctures are better than the powdered extract, with the freeze-dried extract being the exception.
Bottom Line:Being a liquid.
Dr. Rubman:The tincture, yeah. An alcohol-and-water extract. And after you’ve tried valerian tincture, you’ll be able to tell by taste how good the stuff is. If you said OK, besides a tincture made by Eclectic Institute, is there another company that you really, really like for what they’re doing? It’s called Herb Pharm, also an Oregon company. Excellent material.
Bottom Line:All right. So valerian or L-tryptophan for sleep.
Dr. Rubman:Right.
Dr. Rubman:Thank you, Dr. Rubman.