New sleep aid, coming soon, acts on melatonin receptors

People's Pharmacy

September 18, 2005|By Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon | Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon,King Features Syndicate

I have fibromyalgia, and it disturbs my sleep. I take Lunesta for sleep every night (in addition to practicing healthy sleep habits). What is your opinion of the new medication Rozerem?

Lunesta (eszopiclone) was hailed as the first sleeping pill to be approved for long-term use. It is being widely advertised. Side effects may include headache, dry mouth, drowsiness, indigestion and an unpleasant aftertaste.

Rozerem (ramelteon) is new and should start showing up in pharmacies over the next several weeks. It is the first sleeping pill to act on melatonin receptors. While more effective than the natural sleep hormone melatonin for helping people get to sleep, it doesn't seem to help them sleep longer. Side effects may include headache, daytime sleepiness, nausea, dizziness, fatigue, worsening insomnia and colds.

I saw something in your column on the usage of cinnamon for high cholesterol. I am 65 years old (female), and my total cholesterol is 240, my triglycerides are 42, and my HDL cholesterol is 105. My doctor tells me not to worry about it.

I can't eat any healthier, and I exercise at least three times a week. I would like to give the cinnamon a try. Can you tell me more about it?

Though some animal research suggests that cinnamon may lower cholesterol, we don't think you need it. With your low triglycerides and high HDL cholesterol, we side with your doctor. Your ratio of total to HDL cholesterol is fabulous -- 2.3. Anything below 4.5 is considered good. Lowering your total cholesterol might reduce the amount of good HDL cholesterol circulating in your bloodstream.

What is the interaction between statin drugs and grapefruit? Are statin users not supposed to eat any grapefruit at all, at any time of day? Or can you eat grapefruit in the morning and take your medication in the evening? Does the grapefruit interaction vary, depending on the statin?

Grapefruit slows elimination of some statin drugs (Mevacor, Lipitor and Zocor). That means that if you eat grapefruit or drink grapefruit juice, it is likely that blood levels of your cholesterol drug will be higher than normal. This may increase the risk of side effects.

The effect is long-lasting. Reported effects may linger for up to 48 hours, so eating your grapefruit in the morning will not protect you from an effect in the evening.

Some statin drugs (Crestor, Lescol and Pravachol) are processed through different enzymes and do not interact with grapefruit.

Starting Friday, People's Pharmacy will appear in the Health & Science section.

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