I had cause to go into our 16 year old son’s bedroom today and found a package of medicine I didn’t recognize. It was called Alteril (Somnia latoril). I didn’t panic; our son is pretty savvy about drugs and medicines. Furthermore, we have a pretty healthy line of communication. I was concerned. When I taxed him with it, he responded that a ‘friend had given it to him’ (red flag) to help him sleep better (red flag). Apparently this friend’s mother read about it online or heard an infomercial on TV (red flag; Remember Heath Ledger?) and given it her son who proceeded to share the Alteril (major red flag that made this mother bull want to charge someone!).
Our son protested that he is not taking drugs and besides, Alteril is ‘natural’. ‘It’s only Tryptophan, Mom, like in turkey.’ I wasn’t worried about him using drugs or becoming an addict and told him as much. I am concerned about any medicine, herbal or otherwise that my children take without my knowledge or supervision. He reacted defensively, saying that he isn’t stupid. And I don’t think he is stupid in any way. But when adults hand out any kind of medicine, pill, drug or herbal treatment, over-the-counter or otherwise, it is dangerous and foolish. And kids, even smart communicative kids are vulnerable because an adult says it’s okay.
I am familiar with L-tryptophan, a natural sedative found in tuna, turkey and warmed milk. I’m pretty well-read on medicines, herbs and homeopathic preparations. I am comfortable with using herbs and food supplements to treat conditions provided I’ve researched it. What I am not familiar with is OTC drugs, sold over the Internet as natural treatments. And I am never comfortable with expensive products, hyped by infomercials. I have never found one that wasn’t a scam.
I researched Alteril. When I typed ‘Alteril’ in the search box, it came up as a sleep aid right along side Ambien and other narcotic drugs. Narcotics are any drugs that induce sleep. What also came up on almost every site on the first search page were articles and forum entries all relating personal stories about illnesses and problems writers have had with Alteril. Reports of nausea, migraines, headaches and one from an ER nurse whose patient had died and been found to have taken Alteril.
There were also several sites calling Alteril a scam. People tried the free trial and couldn’t cancel afterwards. Several reports told of credit card issues. The worst part of the Alteril issue is that fact that the entire list of ingredients in Alteril are not listed on the website or package. That alone would have been the only red flag I needed. Any company that does not list product ingredients is covering something. They are also breaking FDA code which mandates thorough reporting of each and every ingredient in a product.
I write this as a warning to others. Caveat Emptor! I’m glad I found it before our son had tried it more than once. Interestingly, he is out like a light and has been sleeping since he came home from school. Hopefully he’ll have no repercussions. Here’s my article on completely natural, drug-free sleep aids.