Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Natural sleep aid linked to nightmares

From the Globe and Mail:
Valerian, a herbal sleep aid commonly used by those who want an alternative to prescription sedatives, has been linked to serious side effects, according to Health Canada, raising questions about the safety of some natural health products.

Health Canada said it has received more than 30 reports of adverse reactions, including hallucinations and nightmares, linked to valerian from 2003 to 2008. The department also warned in a quarterly adverse-reaction newsletter that some medical studies have found an association between valerian and hallucinations, delirium and cardiac complications.

Health Canada also said it had received more than 50 reports of adverse reactions involving echinacea, ginkgo and St. John's wort in the same time period, including agitation, dizziness, rash and pain.

An increasing number of Canadians are using vitamins, supplements and other natural health products on a regular basis.

The industry's retail sales are expected to reach more than $2.75-billion by 2010, according to the Canadian Health Food Association.

But the rapid growth has many members of the medical community concerned. That's because data used to demonstrate that natural health products work are often limited and sometimes weak. More troubling to some is the fact that many consumers have come to rely on daily vitamins and supplements without realizing such products can have serious side effects or interactions with food or drugs. ...more

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