Helfgott Research Institute Receives Major Funding to Test Mind-Body Practices for Reducing Benzodiazepine Medications

PORTLAND, OR – National University of Natural Medicine (NUNM)’s Helfgott Research Institute (HRI) announced that it has received $160,000 to conduct a study on the feasibility of using remotely-delivered mind-body interventions to help adults ages 65+ reduce their use of benzodiazepine medications (such as Valium® or Xanax®) for insomnia and anxiety.

This one-time opportunity is made possible by the US Deprescribing Network, funded by the National Institute on Aging, in support of complementary and integrative health research studying the deprescribing of benzodiazepine medications. With current research being extremely limited, this award prepares investigators to apply for larger grants in order to conduct definitive large-scale clinical trials. Principal Investigator Ryan Bradley, ND, MPH and Co-Investigators Erica Sharpe, PhD and Ripu Jindal, MD will lead the study.

“This project is a perfect fit for HRI,” said Dr. Bradley. “It leverages the history, experience, and real-world clinical orientation of HRI to rigorously test a traditional complementary and integrative health practice using innovative clinical research methods to inform a current clinical dilemma that spans healthcare disciplines. The results of this trial have the potential to reduce unnecessary pharmaceutical use in a vulnerable patient population reducing their risk for falls, overdose, and premature death. It represents exactly the type of research the healthcare community needs more of to reduce risks and improve outcomes.”

About the Study
Thirty participants, all ages 65+ and taking benzodiazepines, will practice one of two remotely-delivered interventions, 3-5 days per week for 30 minutes, complete surveys, and use wearable devices that monitor sleep and breathing throughout the 6-week study. During this time, participants will attempt to taper or eliminate use of their medications, with guidance from Dr. Jindal, a board-certified psychiatrist.

Risks associated with benzodiazepines include cognitive impairment, over-sedation, falls and dependency. If successful, this trial could lead to identification of nonpharmacologic alternatives to these dangerous medications, affecting the lives of many adults suffering from insomnia and anxiety.

About the Investigators

Portrait of Ryan Bradley, ND, MPH

Ryan Bradley, ND, MPH (Principal Investigator)Director of Research & Senior Research Investigator, HRI

Erica Sharpe, PhD (Co-Investigator)Assistant Research Investigator, HRI

Ripu Jindal, MD (Co-Investigator)Psychiatrist, Veterans Affairs, Birmingham, Alabama


Rebekah Phillips, VP of Marketing & Enrollment

Established in 1956, National University of Natural Medicine (NUNM) is the longest active, accredited naturopathic medical university in North America and a leader in natural medicine education and evidence-based research. Learn more at nunm.edu.

Founded in 2003, NUNM’s Helfgott Research Institute is a professionally independent, non-profit research institute conducting rigorous, high quality research on the art and science of healing.