As we hurdle through our days at warp speed, sometimes the mind is just too busy processing what it just experienced to grant us a good night of sleep. When this happens, there are several herbs that can ground us, relax the nervous system and help turn down the volume of our mind. My go to herbs for sleep are:
Valerian Root (Valeriana officinalis) - I want to preface this herb with the knowledge that a small percentage of people may feel more energized when taking Valerian. I recommend trying it out during the day before exploring the benefits at night. Valerian root contains several compounds, including valerenic acid and valepotriates, which have sedative and anxiolytic (anxiety-reducing) properties. This root also affects serotonin levels within the brain, which help regulate mood and sleep. Valerian has been documented for centuries as a sedative and has been found in Ayurvedic and Chinese Medicine texts.
Passion Flower (Passiflora incarnata) - The research on this beautiful vine suggests it may reduce the time it takes to fall asleep. It has the ability to quiet the mind and induce relaxation. Passion flower is believed to enhance the neurotransmitter (GABA), which helps regulate brain activity. By increasing GABA levels, there will be a calming influence on the central nervous system.
Wild Lettuce (Lactua virosa) - This herb has traditionally been used as an analgesic and muscle relaxant. When you alleviate pain by reducing muscle tension, promoting sleep becomes easier. It is a gentle herb that children can use without worry. Wild lettuce is also a great herb to mix with others to enhance relaxation.
Hops (Humulus lupulus) - Most people associate hops with beer but they were used long before the brew existed. They have always been known for their sedative properties and many cultures used them not only for inducing sleep, but also for bladder, breast and womb problems, anxiety and fear. Research shows that hops can help with insomnia and if made into a tea, can also be drank during the day to help with severe anxiety.
Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) - This gentle nervine can be used by the whole family. Lemon Balm not only boosts the immune system but it calms the nervous system and relaxes the mind. It helps with mood disorders associated with auto immune disease and also eases stomach pain and indigestion.
These herbs can be found in their natural state to be used as tea or in pill, powder or tincture form. I currently make a sleep tincture called SLEEP with a few of these herbs as well as others that work along side of them to enhance the balance of the body. Besides having a good diet, sleep is the next most important thing you can do for yourself. It's how we replenish and nourish ourselves each day. I wish you all good health, happy thoughts and pleasant dreams!