Acute Pharmacological Effects of Temazepam, Diphenhydramine, and Valerian in Healthy Elderly Subjects
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Elderly insomniacs are often treated pharmacologically with benzodiazepines, antihistamines, or natural products. A double-blind, randomized, crossover, placebo-controlled study was performed to assess the comparative pharmacodynamics of single doses of temazepam (15 and 30 mg), diphenhydramine (50 and 75 mg), and valerian (400 and 800 mg) in 14 healthy elderly volunteers (mean age, 71.6 years; range, 65-89). Assessments were made at 0, 0.5, 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, and 8 hours postdosing with use of validated measures of subjective sedation and mood (visual analogue scales, Tufts University Benzodiazepine scale) and psychomotor performance (manual tracking and digit symbol substitution tests). Temazepam had dose-dependent effects on sedation and psychomotor ability with a distinct time course. Temazepam 30 mg had the most detrimental effect on psychomotor ability (p < 0.001 compared with all other treatments). Temazepam 30 mg and both doses of diphenhydramine elicited significantly greater sedation than placebo (p < 0.05, all), and temazepam had the greatest effect. There was no difference in sedation scores between 50 and 75 mg diphenhydramine. Sedative effects were slightly lesser with 15 mg temazepam and were not significant in comparison with placebo. Psychomotor impairment was evident after administration of 75 mg diphenhydramine in comparison with placebo on the manual tracking test (p < 0.05); this was less than the impairment with 30 mg temazepam (p < 0.001) but similar to that with 15 mg temazepam (NS). No psychomotor impairment was detected with 50 mg diphenhydramine. Valerian was not different from placebo on any measure of psychomotor performance or sedation.
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