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A natural remedy for narcolepsy

October 10, 2005|Joe Graedon, Teresa Graedon | The People's Pharmacy

Are there any natural treatments for narcolepsy and cataplexy?

Narcolepsy is a condition in which people fall asleep suddenly during waking hours. If they lose muscle control, it is called cataplexy. Some narcoleptics can even fall asleep and collapse while crossing the street.

There are no natural remedies for this serious ailment, unless you consider gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB). This compound is made in very small quantities by the body. Doctors can now prescribe it by the name Xyrem. It helps control narcolepsy by fostering restorative sleep. GHB has been abused as a date-rape drug, so access to Xyrem is tightly controlled.


I take 15 milligrams of Remeron daily for depression. Recently I called in a refill. When I opened the bottle, I noticed that the pills were much larger and a different color than before.

To check on this, I took the new pills to my pharmacy along with a sample of the original prescription. Someone had inadvertently given me 45-milligram pills. I'm glad I checked. I urge readers who notice any change in their medications to talk with the pharmacist.

Thank you for reminding us that it is crucial to double-check medications before leaving the pharmacy.

By accidentally tripling the dose, the pharmacist put you at risk of reactions to Remeron, including drowsiness, disorientation, dizziness, impaired memory, dry mouth, constipation, weight gain and irregular heartbeats.

Joe Graedon, a pharmacologist, and Teresa Graedon, an expert in medical anthropology and nutrition, can be reached at People's Pharmacy, King Features Syndicate, 888 7th Ave., New York, NY 10019, or at

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