Can’t Sleep, Herbal Teas May Help
People have been using herbal teas to help relax before bed for centuries. But, it is important to remember that the effects of herbs can vary depending on the individual. Some herbs can cause sleep disturbances while others can either make you drowsy or contribute to sleeplessness.
You may want to experiment with several to find the one that works for you with the caveat that you need to remember that some herbs can interact with perscription medication you may be taking, or with another underlying medical condition. Also remember, not all herbs are appropriate for children.
That said, the following herbs have a history of usefulness for helping people fall asleep, as follows:
This is probably one of the better known herbal teas used to relax and induce sleepiness, and which has shown in a clinical study that it could provide help for chronic insomnia. As a sleep aid, it’s fairly mild. It is also gentle and is helpful if you have an irritable digestive tract. Even sniffing the tea bags may be enough to trigger your brain to relax.
An herbal infusion tea may be made by using 1 ounce of the dried herb steeped in 1 qt of water for 4 hours. Filter the dried herb out before drinking. This infusion is more concentrated than brewing a cup of tea. Chamomile tincture may also be used to help you sleep.
• Passion Flower
This is a very mild herb, best used when you are overtired, anxious or overworked. Dr. Michael Traub, a naturopathic physician who has studied the passion flower, recommends making an infusion with 0.07 ounces (2 grams) of the herb in 5 ounces (150 milliliters) of water, or use 0.3 ounces (10ml) of tincture. Take 3 to 4 times daily.
You can also steep 1 teaspoonful in 1 cup of boiling water for 10 mins and drink it just before bedtime. But, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC), consult your physician before taking it if you are already taking prescription drugs for insomnia, anxiety, depression or blood thinners.
• Kava kava
This herb is commonly used to reduce anxiety and depression. In an observational study with placebos, it was found to have some benefit as a sleep aid. It has been found safe in small dosages, but use caution, as kava supplements have been linked to liver damage. Germany, Switzerland and Canada have banned substances containing Kava because of the risk of liver damage. The safest way is to use a mild tea and not a supplement.
• California Poppy
This is a favorite herb of many people seeking relaxation and drowsiness to sleep. Studies have demonstrated the herb’s ability to reduce the amount of time it takes you to fall asleep and improve sleep quality when used as directed. Taking 30 drops of the tincture two to three times daily may help you fall asleep easier.
This is possibly the most powerful herbal sedative, and not one to be used consistently. Using it before bed may help reduce the number of times you awaken during the night. However, this herb may trigger some wild dreams, as well as diarrhea and other gastrointestinal effects. If you have never used valerian, it’s best to start slowly to reduce the potential you may experience side effects. This herb also works well in combination with hops
Herbs are also aromatic.
The scent they produce may sometimes have as much effect on your brain and body as drinking tea or tincture. These herbs are a wonderful addition to your night clothes or bedroom to help you relax and sleep.
As an aromatherapy, this plant from the mint family has been reported to help with sleep and relaxation issues. Mixing a little of the essential oil with olive oil makes a massage oil that promotes sleep. You might also add a drop or two to a warm bath before bed, or on a cotton ball inside your pillow case. Do not ingest lavender oil; also, do not use it topically on boys, as it may cause abnormal breast growth.
The scent of hops, a component of beer, was a favorite of King George III and Abraham Lincoln as a means of inducing relaxation and sleep. This herb may be used to stuff a pillow for your nightly relaxation, or you may choose to drink a mild tea 2X daily, once in the morning and another in the latter part of the evening. Studies with animals have shown that it also may be useful in the form of nonalcoholic beer.
Chronic issues with sleeplessness, insomnia or waking during the night may require you to evaluate your lifestyle and your habits, both during the day and at night.
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