Q: I have had a lot of trouble sleeping, especially since I started menopause. I know someone whose temperament (anxious-tending) and age (50s) are similar to mine. He’s male and I’m female, so I’ve got all kinds of extra-fun hot-flashy kinds of things to make nighttime interesting now.

Anyway, his go-to sleep remedy is a time-release melatonin capsule coupled with a dropper of CBD oil. I have never done one remotely illicit drug in my life, and my family thinks it is hilarious that I am considering CBD oil. All the same, my friend claims to be sleeping easily nine hours a night. That sounds like an absolute dream to me, given that at least half the time I wake up in the middle of the night and have terrible trouble getting back to sleep. Could CBD oil help with insomnia? What about melatonin?

A: Fortunately, CBD (cannabidiol) is not illicit. Even though it can be derived from Cannabis (marijuana) plants, it does not make people high.

There have been few if any randomized controlled trials of this compound for insomnia. However, in a large case series (72 individuals), CBD was associated with reduced anxiety and improved sleep (Permanente Journal, online, Jan. 7, 2019).

Melatonin can be helpful for restoring sleep disrupted during the night (British Journal of Pharmacology, August 2018).

To learn more about herbal remedies and other nondrug solutions for insomnia, you may want to consult our eGuide to Getting a Good Night’s Sleep. This online resource is available in the Health eGuide section of www.PeoplesPharmacy.com.


Q: I want to share a home remedy that my husband and I use for minor household burns. We get the yellow mustard out of the fridge, apply it to the burn and cover it with a cool, damp cloth. This is very soothing. My husband was skeptical at first, but it helped his burn immediately.

A: The first step in treating a household burn is to get the injured skin under cold tap water instantly. After a few minutes, there are several home remedies that may be helpful.

We first heard about cold yellow mustard from a listener on our syndicated public radio show. He told us that inexpensive yellow mustard was good for a burn. Since then, we have heard from other listeners that cold mustard can stop the pain and redness.

Other remedies include cold soy sauce, vanilla extract and even fresh onion juice. Here is the first onion juice story:

“While I was working at a restaurant, one of our chefs was burned badly by a fryer. I happened to be in the kitchen when it happened, and the manager screamed, ‘Get me a fresh onion out of the walk-in refrigerator.’

“I didn’t ask questions; I just got it. He asked me to cut it in half and give it to him, which I did. He squeezed the fresh onion juice on the chef’s burn. What was amazing is not only that it calmed the awful pain, but also that the burned skin NEVER BLISTERED!

“The manager later explained to me that it must be a fresh-cut onion. I proved that later when, in another restaurant, I got burned and I reached for onions that were cut up that morning. They didn’t work, so then I had to cut a fresh onion. Seconds count when it comes to a burn.

“That happened back in the 1980s and I have sworn by it every time. It always works! Something about the chemical of the onion juice works wonders.”