Synthetic substances may have unanticipated unhealthy effects on the body

Often times I am asked why I just don’t prescribe pharmaceuticals like other doctors. It’s not that I won’t use allopathic meds when necessary,but its not my first choice. I have many reasons for preferring a natural approach. One is my deep suspicion that synthetic substances are not healthy for the body, and that 6 week “safety” tests are not adequate to understand all the different long term, unanticipated effects that synthetic chemicals have on the many different functions of the human body. A very recent study of sleeping pills, which found a disturbing correlation between use of hypnotics and increased risk of cancer and death, adds fuel to my bias. In this study, 10,500 patient at Scripps Clinic were matched with on more than 16 variables, including chronic illness, with controls not taking an sleep medication. Astonishingly it was found that taking even 18 sleeping pills a year increased the risk of death by a factor of 3.5. And in those taking more than 132 doses in a year the risk of cancer was also elevated.

Sleeping pills have many side effects and don’t even work that well 

Although this study only shows correlation, and not causation, it is disturbing, especially since more than 60 million prescriptions were written for sleeping pills last year. And it is not the first study to find a correlation between sleeping pills and death. Similar results have been found in studies done in Canada and Norway. Morever, sleeping pills actually don’t even work that well. The largest study of Sonata found that taking it did not extend sleeping time, and decreased the time needed to fall asleep by only 14 minutes. In addition sleeping pills have well known side effects of addiction, daytime grogginess and bizarre behaviors called fugue states, in which people are awake and performing activities like driving cars without any memory of having done so.

Natural Alternatives

A more natural alternative for insomnia is melatonin. Melatonin has been found to have a significant number of benefits including anticarcinogenic effects for breast cancer, colon cancer and leukemia, improvement of estrogen and thyroid function after menopause, general reduction of oxidative stress and antidepressant effects. Oh and did we mention it is also quite effective for insomnia 🙂 Overall 3 to 10 mg of melatonin would seem to be a much better starting choice for treating insomnia than asking your doctor for a 30 day supply of Ambien. Other good choices include magnesium, 5-HTP, theanine and daily exercise. Sleep hygiene is also essential. You may want to review more about the natural treatment of insomia at Also, if you are already taking sleeping pills, please do not quit cold turkey, but rather work out a gradual taper schedule with your physician.