Insomnia can make falling asleep difficult, wake you up in the middle of the night, or awaken you way too early in the morning. Insomnia can be naturally relieved with herbal teas, infusions, and baths. The following nine herbs can aid in getting to sleep and staying asleep.
1) California poppy (Escholtzschia californica). California poppy is a sedative and sleep-promoting herb which can currently be found in a variety of herbal remedies for promoting sleep, helping one to relax, and easing mild anxiety. Because of its mild sedative and analgesic properties, it can be given safely to children. Clinical research on California poppy has clearly demonstrated the plant's sedative and anti-anxiety properties. It has been shown to improve both sleep latency and quality.
2) Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis). Chamomile is a time-honored sedative herb which can be safely used by children and adults alike. Chamomile tea is commonly used in Europe, South America, and Mexico for insomnia and restlessness combined with irritability, particularly in children.
3) Hops (Humulus lupulus). In the early 1900s, physicians used hops as a sedative specifically for insomnia due to worry or nerve weakness. Hops, a major ingredient of beer, has a long history of use for sleeplessness, nervousness, and restlessness. Hops pillows are sometimes used for mild insomnia.
4) Kava kava (Piper methysticum). Kava is the national drink of Fiji and is popular throughout the South Seas. It imparts a calm feeling, relaxes the body, and sometimes enhances communication and dreaming. This sedative herb is often used for sleeplessness and fatigue.
5) Lavender (Lavandula officinalis). Lavender is a gentle strengthening tonic for the nervous system. A few drops of lavender oil added to a bath before bedtime are recommended for persons with sleep disorders. Additionally, the oil may be used as a compress or massage oil or simply inhaled to alleviate insomnia.
6) Passion flower (Passiflora incarnata). Herbalists consider passion flower an important herb for insomnia caused by mental worry, overwork, or nervous exhaustion. In England it is an ingredient in forty different commonly-sold sedative preparations. Passion flower is used for minor sleep problems in both children and adults. It is an excellent sedative with no side effects even when used in large doses.
7) St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum). This common yellow-flowered weedy herb from Europe is quickly becoming an important part of modern herbal medicine. It has a long history of use dating back to ancient Greek times. Modern scientific studies show that it can help relieve chronic insomnia and mild depression when related to certain brain chemistry imbalances. Because this herb can sensitize the skin to sunlight, if you are taking a full dose, avoid direct skin exposure to bright sunlight.
8) Valerian (Valeriana officinalis). Herbalists use valerian extensively for its sedative action against insomnia, nervousness, and restlessness. It is recommended for those type of people who have a hard time falling asleep, because it shortens sleep latency. It also reduces nighttime waking. Valerian is an excellent herbal sedative that has none of the negative side effects of Valium and other synthetic sedatives. It works well in combination with other sedative herbs, such as California poppy, skullcap, hops, and passion flower.
9) Wild lettuce (Lactuca virosa). Wild lettuce is a mild sedative and nervine used for restlessness and insomnia. It may be found in a variety of formulas for the treatment of acute and chronic insomnia. It is used homeopathically for restlessness and insomnia. Because of its safety of use and calming effects, wild lettuce is a good children’s remedy.
Unless otherwise specified, for insomnia, take one or two cupfuls of an infusion or decoction in the evening about 30-60 minutes before bedtime. An additional cup can be taken in the night if you wake up. Where a remedy that will not make you drowsy is indicated for conditions associated with insomnia, you can take it three times a day.
Reduce the dosage of herbs taken by mouth by a quarter for children under five years old and by a half for children under twelve. Consult a professional herbalist and your doctor before administering any herbs to children.
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