There are many "natural" sleep aids on the OTC market today. This capsule will discuss a few of them, as well as some warnings that you may not be aware of. The products that I'll start with have the most scientific data to support their claims of efficacy.
5-hydroxy tryptophan (5HTP): 5HTP is a chemical precursor to serotonin, a neurotransmitter. Unlike L tryptophan it's thusfar been shown to be safe. L tryptophan was removed from the market for many, many years, due to a link to a blood disorder associated with it's use. By increasing levels of serotonin, 5HTP helps promote restful sleep. This also makes it contraindicatory for people on selective serotonin reuptake inhibittors (SSRIs), a type of antidepressant.
Melatonin. Make no mistake, melatonin IS a steroid hormone. Relax, it's not an anabolic, nor androgenic steroid. Melatonin is produced by the body's pineal gland, and low production of this hormone can lead to insomnia. Just like any steroid, it should only be used as needed, and cycled if used regularly (this much time on-equal time off). I don't believe much research has been done in regard to negative feedback here, but it is the endocrine system. Melatonin is also contraindicated for those on SSRIs.
GABA. Gamma amino butyric acid is a compound naturally produced by our body's, too. Without delving too deeply into it's physiology-GABA has been shown to elicit a growth hormone increase (in rats!). Guys, ever wonder why it's nap time after sex? GABA is the answer. Men secrete GABA immediately after orgasm (as well as prolactin).
Without a wealth of information in regards to supplementation, tingling of the skin is the only side effect that I know of.
Later in this hub, I'll discuss herbs, OTC sleep aids, as well as prescription sleep aids.