Mom’s Choice Awards is excited to announce another post in our interview series where we chat with the inventors, designers, publishers, and others behind some of our favorite family-friendly products.
Hello, Mom’s Choice readers! Welcome to another interview with a Mom’s Choice Awards honoree! Today we’ll be hearing from Dr. Payam Hakimi, D.O., A.B.F.P., who lends his medical expertise to Boiron USA—a world leader in homeopathic medicines. The company recently received a Mom’s Choice Award for its revolutionary homeopathic sleep aid for children: SleepCalm® Kids Meltaway Pellets.
MCA: Dr. Hakimi, please tell us about your background and your role at Boiron.
I am a board-certified family physician with diverse medical training. I combined my knowledge of medicine with specialized alternative medical modalities to create a comprehensive medical practice. I am the medical director of Body of Harmony in Beverly Hills, California, and Miami, Florida, where I practice Integrative and Functional Medicine, IV Nutrition, Anti-aging Medicine, Osteopathic Manipulation and Cranial Osteopathy, and Clinical Homeopathy. I also teach the art and science of integrative medicine to medical students, residents, physicians, nurses, acupuncturists, chiropractors, and the public. Currently, I am a senior teaching faculty member with the Center for Education and Development of Clinical Homeopathy in the U.S. I have been a medical expert for Boiron for more than 10 years.
MCA: Please tell us about the creation of Boiron.
It all started in France in 1932, when pharmacists and twin brothers Jean and Henri Boiron began producing homeopathic medicines to meet the demand of French doctors who were looking for quality products for their patients. They developed a rigorous production process for homeopathic medicines, which at the time were prepared manually by doctors. Their goal was to guarantee the reliability, efficacy, and reproducibility of these medicines. Today Boiron has grown to 23 subsidiaries and operates in 50 countries. The company is celebrating its 40th anniversary in the U.S. and its mission remains the same — to improve the quality of life for everyone through homeopathy.
MCA: What needs was Boiron trying to fill when it created the SleepCalm® Kids Meltaway Pellets?
As any parent knows, getting kids to sleep is often more complicated than simply putting them to bed. If lifestyle changes like winding down activities at night or adjusting the sleep environment don’t help a child fall asleep, then parents often look for answers in pill form. The marketplace has been dominated by traditional over-the-counter sleep medicines for adults, but with the introduction of dietary supplements, melatonin or herbal-based formulas are now very popular with parents — in surveys, up to 50% of parents have given melatonin to their children. Companies like Boiron are starting to offer “melatonin-free, hormone-free” formulas, as some medications can increase melatonin levels, and taking them in conjunction with melatonin could result in melatonin overload.
MCA: Could you tell us about the product’s unique features and describe them?
This homeopathic sleep aid calms occasional restless sleep without melatonin, so your child can fall asleep and stay asleep. It uses a blend of plant-based and other pure active ingredients that help restore a healthy sleep pattern disturbed by upsets, excitement, nightmares, and schedule changes. Simply twist the tube until five pellets are dispensed and let them melt in your child’s mouth before bed or anytime during the night for calming relief. The pellets have a slightly sweet taste, but without the high sugar content of a gummy. And the product contains no artificial sweeteners, flavors, colors, or preservatives.
MCA: What about the research and testing that went into this product?
Boiron is the world leader in manufacturing homeopathic medicines and is known for its high-quality medicines. As an over-the-counter medicine, Boiron homeopathic products are manufacturing to pharmaceutical cGMP standards, and use pharmaceutical-grade ingredients, which means they meet the highest standards for purity set by the Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia of the United States. As for studies, there have been several double-blind, placebo-controlled studies of homeopathic sleep medicines that have shown they can increase total sleep time and improve sleep quality.
MCA: Tell us about the importance of SleepCalm Kids Meltaway Pellets for children.
The gentle action of homeopathic medicines like SleepCalm Kids Meltaway Pellets make them perfect for children. Instead of flooding your child’s system with a powerful hormone like melatonin or knocking them out with sedatives, it helps their body rebalance its sleep-wake cycle and produces healthy sleep. Because the substances used are so diluted, homeopathy is one of the safest classes of drugs. There is no danger of dependence, and it is free of many of the side effects that often come with melatonin or other over-the-counter sleep aids. Homeopathic medicines also have the advantage of not masking symptoms that could be a sign that something more serious is happening, which helps parents stay in touch with their child’s physical and psychological needs.
MCA: We all know that sleep is important to a child’s development—could you tell us why that’s so?
Growing kids need sleep for healthy physical, mental, and emotional development. School-aged kids need at least nine to 11 hours of sleep every night. Children who get an adequate amount of sleep are better able to pay attention and learn. They also have better behavior and general physical and mental health when they are well rested. Therefore, it makes sense for parents to try a myriad of approaches so their children can get high-quality sleep of adequate length.
MCA: What are some possible drawbacks of giving melatonin to children — and what do parents need to know?
Melatonin is a hormone made in your brain to control the sleep-wake cycle. In the evening and at night, melatonin levels naturally rise, which makes it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep.
The body maintains a state of balance called homeostasis, and we should be careful when we interfere with it. Even though melatonin is natural in our bodies, most melatonin supplements are made through a synthetic chemical process. Short-term use is generally safe for most people, but long-term use has not been sufficiently studied.
In the U.S., melatonin is considered a dietary supplement, which means that it’s regulated less strictly by the Food and Drug Administration than a prescription or over-the-counter drug would be. In several other countries, melatonin is considered a drug and is available only with a prescription. Melatonin has side effects, such as daytime drowsiness, headaches, dizziness, nightmares, and nausea. It’s sold as a nonspecific sleep inducer, where it should be used only for jet lag or working night shifts, when your circadian cycle has been shifted and you might want to correct it. And of course, misuse is possible. Taking too much could saturate the receptors in the brain, and this may interfere with your natural production of melatonin.
MCA: What are the main advantages of using homeopathic medicines for sleep disruption?
The most commonly used remedies for sleeplessness in kids such as antihistamines and melatonin can have side effects. Homeopathy is a largely untapped resource for sleep issues. Boiron offers SleepCalm Kids as a homeopathic option for occasional sleeplessness. It is formulated without melatonin to restore the balance of nighttime and daytime states in the body, rather than just masking symptoms with a substance that induces drowsiness. The plant-based and other pure active ingredients in SleepCalm Kids target a set of symptoms associated with different sleep problems, so the formula works well for more than one kind of occasional sleeplessness. It can be used in children ages 3 and up. Safety is a big advantage with SleepCalm as there is a very low risk of side effects, no known interactions with other medications, and low incidence of dizziness, headaches or nausea.
MCA: Is SleepCalm only for children, or can adults benefit from it as well?
SleepCalm is not just for young children. Adults and children over age 12 can enjoy the benefits of SleepCalm in tablet form to restore a healthy sleep pattern disturbed by nervousness, worries, exhaustion, an overactive mind, jet lag, or night shift work. The meltaway tablets are convenient to take without water at bedtime and can be taken on an empty stomach.
MCA: Why did Boiron begin offering liquid doses?
In recent years, prior to the meltaway pellets, Boiron created a liquid children’s version of its popular SleepCalm medicine in pre-measured liquid doses to make things easier for parents when administering a sleep aid to younger children. With the liquid version, there are no chalky tablets to chew, no pills to swallow, and no sugar, artificial flavorings, or other unhealthy ingredients so often found in sleep gummies.
MCA: What is next for you and your products?
Boiron recently introduced SleepCalm On the Go pellets. Recommended for ages 12 and up, this sleep aid is offered in convenient, portable tubes for relief that can travel easily with you. The meltaway pellets are convenient to take without water and contain no artificial sweeteners, flavors, colors, or preservatives.
MCA: Dr. Hakimi, we’re delighted that you could join us today and tell us about the excellent benefits of Boiron’s homeopathic sleep aid products. We wish you the very best in your future endeavors!
You can learn more about the award-winning product, SleepCalm® Kids Meltaway Pellets, by visiting their MCA Shop pages.