Numerous plants have sedative action. Plants commonly prescribed as aids in promoting sleep include: passionflower (Passiflora incarnata), hops (Humulus lupulus), valerian (Valeriana officinalis), skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora), and chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla).
How Much and When
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.
Passionflower (Passiflora incarnate)
Passion flower is calming and sleep inducing, relieves pain, and muscular spasms. It is useful for the treatment of general insomnia, insomnia in asthmatics, hysteria, cramps, and nerve pain.
Passionflower was widely used by the Aztecs as a sedative and analgesic. Its constituents include harmine. Harmine was originally known as telepathine because of its peculiar ability to induce a contemplative state and mild euphoria. It was later used by the Germans in World War II as "truth serum." Harmine and related compounds can inhibit the breakdown of serotonin, therefore their use with 5-HTP would have an additive effect.
How to Use: Take 30--60 drops of tincture forty-five minutes before bed.
Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)
Valerian is relaxing and sleep inducing, relieves spasms, calms the digestion, and lowers blood pressure. It is useful for severe insomnia and insomnia accompanied by pain, cramps, intestinal pain, wind, menstrual pain, tension, anxiety, and over-excitability.
Valerian can bring on a restful sleep without morning sleepiness or other side effects or dangers of addiction. Studies have shown that valerian has an extremely beneficial effect among poor or irregular sleepers (particularly women), and in people having difficulty falling asleep.
Valerian has been widely used in folk medicine as a sedative and antihypertensive. Clinical studies have substantiated valerian's ability to improve sleep quality and relieve insomnia. In one study, valerian showed a significant effect compared to the placebo, with forty-four percent reporting perfect sleep and eighty-nine percent reporting improved sleep. In another double-blind study of insomniacs, twenty subjects received either a combination of valerian root extract (160 mg) and Melissa officinalis extract (80 mg), benzodiazepine (triazolam 0.125 mg), or a placebo. In the insomniac group, the valerian/melissa preparation showed an effect comparable to that of the benzodiazepines, as well as an ability to increase deep-sleep stages 3 and 4. The valerian/melissa preparation did not, however, cause any daytime sleepiness, and there was no evidence of diminished concentration or impairment of physical performance.
How To Use:
Brew valerian tea (recipe below
.) or take about 20 drops of tincture in water at bedtime; experiment to find the dosage that suits you best.
Valerian, like any sleeping aid, acts as a central nervous system depressant and should not be used every night. Take the tea about forty-five minutes before bedtime.
Caution: Valerian does not suit every one. Can occasionally cause excitement. Do not exceed recommended dosage.
Jamaica Dogwood (Piscidia piscipula)
Jamaica dogwood is calming, eases pain and disturbing persistent thoughts
Jamaica dogwood is good for insomnia caused by nervous tension, pain, or menstrual pain.
Can take this herb orally (by mouth) or in a herbal bath.
Dosage: In decoction, can be combined with hops and valerian.
Caution: This is a powerful remedy; do not exceed the recommended dosage.
Hops (Humulus lupulus)
Hops is relaxing, sleep-inducing, and antiseptic.
It is good for general insomnia, especially tension or anxiety-related, or associated with restlessness, indigestion or headaches.
Hops can be mixed with chamomile in equal parts.
Use by mouth or in bath.
Caution: Do not take if depressed. Do not take during the first three months of pregnancy.