Herbs for SLEEP

Can’t sleep? Forget count­ing sheep. Count in­stead on the ef­fect of so­porific herbs and drift peace­fully off to dream­land.

Herbs & Superfoods - - Herbs For Sleep & Stress -

If you’re hav­ing trou­ble catch­ing some zzzs, the so­lu­tion could be as close as your back­yard. Cer­tain herbs have been proven to help with sleep prob­lems, and they’re easy to grow at home too. Laven­der, va­le­rian, hops and lemon balm are all nat­u­ral sleep aids and have a long his­tory for use as herbal seda­tives.

Va­le­rian ( Va­le­ri­ana of­fic­i­nalis) has been used to ease in­som­nia, anx­i­ety and ner­vous rest­less­ness for hun­dreds of years, and it’s still one of the world’s most pop­u­lar herbal remedies. It’s of­ten de­scribed as the herbal tran­quil­liser and it works well for many peo­ple. But not all. For some, va­le­rian has the op­po­site ef­fect: it stim­u­lates.

In herbal­ism, herbs are matched to the in­di­vid­ual to achieve a bal­ance. Warm­ing herbs like va­le­rian are matched to peo­ple with cool­ing ten­den­cies. These are typ­i­cally peo­ple who show signs of cold­ness, like those who wear warm clothes while oth­ers are in T-shirts.

For those with warm­ing ten­den­cies – red face, al­ways feel warm, wilt in hot weather – va­le­rian has a higher chance of hav­ing the op­po­site de­sired ef­fect.

How­ever, for those who can take it, va­le­rian can be ex­tremely ef­fec­tive at re­duc­ing anx­i­ety, re­lax­ing mus­cle ten­sion and aid­ing sleep. The ac­tive con­stituents in va­le­rian de­press the cen­tral ner­vous sys­tem in a sim­i­lar way to GABA, a re­lax­ing neu­ro­trans­mit­ter in the brain. Va­le­rian has clin­i­cally proven re­sults for re­duc­ing sleep­less­ness, mostly by re­duc­ing the time it takes to drop into a deep sleep and im­prov­ing sleep qual­ity. Un­like pre­scrip­tion drugs like ben­zo­di­azepine, which also work on GABA lev­els, it doesn't cause morn­ing drowsi­ness or re­sult in ad­dic­tion.

Make a va­le­rian tinc­ture

You can har­vest the roots of home­grown va­le­rian to make your own sleep-in­duc­ing tinc­ture. For the high­est po­tency, dig up sec­ond or third year plants in early spring, be­fore they start to put en­ergy into stem and leaf growth, or au­tumn. Cut the freshly dug rhi­zome into quar­ters and wash thor­oughly. Pat dry with a clean tea towel, then chop finely to increase the sur­face area for mac­er­a­tion. Place in a jar. Cover with three times its vol­ume of vodka (five times for dried herbs). Screw the lid on tightly and store in a cool, dark room. Shake daily for 4-6 weeks, then strain. Pour into a dark bot­tle, la­bel and store in a dark cup­board. Take 3ml-5ml one to two hours be­fore bed­time. Al­ter­na­tively, steep slices of fresh or dried root in freshly boiled water to make a bed­time tea.

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