O, The Oprah Magazine | From the July 2004 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine
(valerian, chamomile, lemon balm, lavender, hops, passionflower, kava)
What are they? Derived from plants, these supplements contain mixtures of dozens of natural compounds that are reputed to aid sleep.
How long can you take them? There are no recommended limits, but research is lacking on long-term effects.
Do they work? No one knows for sure. Like melatonin, herbal remedies are unregulated by the FDA, and what studies have been done show wildly varying results. Also, there's no guarantee about how much of the active ingredient is contained in a preparation. The FDA has, however, issued an advisory saying kava may pose the risk of severe liver problems, including hepatitis, cirrhosis, and liver failure. There have also been reports of patients requiring liver transplants.