Introduction: Poor sleep quality in pregnancy is frequent. A treatment with sedatives is problematic due to possible adverse effects for mother and embryo/foetus. In the present study, we investigated the sedative effect of Bryophyllum pinnatum, a phytotherapeutic medication used in anthroposophic medicine. In previous clinical studies on its tocolytic effect, B. pinnatum showed a good risk/benefit ratio for mother and child. A recent analysis of the prescribing pattern for B. pinnatum in a network of anthroposophic physicians revealed sleep disorders as one of the most frequent diagnoses for which these preparations are prescribed.
Materials and methods: In this prospective, multi-centre, observational study, pregnant women suffering from sleep problems were treated with B. pinnatum (350mg tablets, 50% leaf press juice, Weleda AG, Arlesheim, dosage at physician's consideration). Sleep quality, daily sleepiness and fatigue were assessed with the aid of standardised questionnaires, at the beginning of the treatment and after 2 weeks. Possible adverse drug reactions perceived by the patients during the treatment were recorded.
Results: The number of wake-ups, as well as the subjective quality of sleep was significantly improved at the end of the treatment with B. pinnatum. The Epworth Sleeping Scale decreased, indicating a decrease of the tiredness during the day. There was, however, no evidence for prolongation of the sleep duration, reduction in the time to fall asleep, as well as change in the Fatigue Severity Scale after B. pinnatum. No serious adverse drug reactions were detected.
Conclusion: B. pinnatum is a suitable treatment of sleep problems in pregnancy. The data of this study encourage further clinical investigations on the use of B. pinnatum in sleep disorders.
Keywords: Bryophyllum pinnatum; Pregnancy; Sleep; Sleep problems; Sleep quality.
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