Anxiety and depression have plagued
humanity for thousands of years, bringing about sleepless nights.
Insomnia herbs have been around just as long.
With the advent of modern medicine, however, came an overabundance
of drugs and sedatives to help give modern humans our much-desired
rest-as well as other not so desirable side effects. And so
we have come full circle and turned back to the insomnia
herbs of yore, and have rediscovered that old cures
are often still the best treatments.
Caffeine is an addictive drug.
While it keeps you perked up during otherwise lethargic mornings,
it will likewise keep you from getting some much-needed sleep
at night. Because of a restless night in bed, you'll be drowsy
again the following day, not to mention nervous and irritable
if you're not already suffering from headaches and nausea, and
you'll stagger toward the espresso machine the first chance
It's a vicious cycle, and it
must be stopped. If you cannot wean yourself off caffeine completely,
at least try to cut back on your consumption. This includes
colas, chocolate, and yes, the ubiquitous Starbucks. Have some
insomnia herbs instead.
Valerian root is your best bet.
It is "the safest and most effective sleep aid with no
side effects," according to British scientist turned herbalist
Dr. Malcolm Stuart, who says the best time for a drink would
be around 8 PM. Thirty minutes before going to bed, use one
to two teaspoons of the dried root to make a sleep-inducing
tea. Unlike sleeping pills, valerian causes no hangovers. And
unlike its counterpart drug, which may trigger an addiction,
you will not develop a dependency on this herb.
Similar to valerian root in terms
of its sedative effects is catnip. Not only is this herb used
as a cure for insomnia, but it is also thought to relieve nervousness,
anxiety, and even migraines. Dosage for catnip is again similar
to valerian-one to two teaspoons of the dried herb for one cup
of boiled water and set aside to immerse for about ten minutes.
Do not boil the herb along with the water as this may destroy
some of its active ingredients.
Chamomile is milder and is safe
for children to consume, especially when the young ones are
restless. The usual dosage is two teaspoons of dried chamomile
flower for every cup of tea.
Lavender also makes for a very
soothing brew at bedtime (three flower heads to one cup of boiling
water, soaked like catnip), and inhaling a few drops of its
oil or mixing it with your bath water has the same calming effect.
It may also be rubbed onto your body during a massage and its
flowers and seeds stuffed into your pillows.
In Chinese medicine, the longan
fruit and sour jujube seed are both known to calm the spirit.
The former is used to treat insomnia, while the latter complements