GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals has introduced a new non-prescription sleep-aid for insomnia. The company is marketing the product as a “non-habit forming sleep aid that provides a safe, natural alternative to current over-the-counter sleep medications” according to the consumer healthcare division.
Alluna is currently available in food, drug and mass outlets as of January 2002. After introduction, the company has announced that sales of Alluna lead valerian dietary supplements in mass outlets with a 70% increase in retails sales of the preceding year. Valerian products are commonly used as mild sedatives and have a fair amount of research to support their efficacy.
The company has also released the results from a recent round table discussion on the use of Alluna and other herbal supplements in the treatment of sleep disturbances. Several experts reviewed the product in terms of safety and efficacy. The findings from the panel are quite intriguing given that only 5% of people with a sleep disturbance will actually consult a physician. Many are likely to turn to over-the-counter sleep aids for the treatment of occasional insomnia. Thus, the role of herbal supplements may effect a wide range of people who are not currently under the care of a health care professional and who may not seek any guidance in terms of which supplements have been found to be useful.
The company’s major premise is that the research behind Valerian root has been fairly positive and several major sleep, psychiatry and neurology journals have found it effect in up to 80% of cases of mild, transient insomnia. However, information about potency has been an issue. Many herbal supplements lack consistency in potency or the amount of valerian in each pill. These potencies can vary from brand to brand. Consumers are often unaware of these findings and therefore may not get a therapeutic benefit. Also, the amount of information on the contents varies from brand to brand and does not usually come with supporting literature.
The makers of Alluna are pushing a Valerian-hops extract based on stricter guidelines in production with more efficacy trials and consistency within the product dosing. In theory, this type of control will increase benefits and safety of the drug. Experts from the panel say that valerian-hops combinations (such as Alluna) promote relaxation and can decrease the number of wake-ups during sleep. European studies have also indicated that this combination does not appear to suppress REM or delta stage sleep, which is a common occurrence in many sleeping pills.
Although, Sleep & Health did not conduct an independent review of the literature on Alluna, the combination of valerian-hops has a long history of safety and efficacy as a mild sedative and thus it is likely that many people seeking an herbal supplement will find Alluna to be good alternative.