TOP 3 MEDICINAL HERBS FOR SLEEP
This week at Remedy we’re talking about all things related to sleep. In our hustle-and-bustle modern world, more and more people are struggling to get quality sleep at night. Thankfully there are many ways you can support your body’s natural sleep cycles. Today, we’re going to introduce you to three herbs that encourage easy + restful sleep.
Skullcap is a widely used tonic herb that supports and promotes healthy function of the central nervous system. For those of us who are overworked, stressed out, or easily agitated, Skullcap is an excellent ally. This powerful herb defuses stress, encourages relaxation, and soothes tension throughout the body. As a gentle muscle relaxant and antispasmodic herb, it is especially helpful for anyone dealing with muscle tension, headaches, and menstrual cramps that may prevent restful sleep. This deeply calming herb soothes anxiety and helps to relieve hypersensitivity to sensory stimuli such as bright lights, loud music, stormy weather, and large crowds. Skullcap is a wonderful candidate for your home apothecary as it is safe for most folks, including children, elders, pregnant and breastfeeding mothers. If you’d like to try Skullcap before bed for a peaceful night’s sleep, you can take it as a tea or tincture. I find that a warm cup of tea about an hour before bed, alongside herbs like passionflower, lemon balm, California poppy, and chamomile, works wonders.
Next up is Passionflower - this beautiful vining plant grows all over San Diego! It’s beautiful wild flowers share many of the soothing and relaxing nervine qualities of Skullcap and has a long-standing reputation for helping with insomnia. It helps us to find a place of calm quietude that fosters a long and refreshing night of sleep.
Passionflower has a special affinity for people who have an overactive mind. This herb has been used for a long time to ease circular and ruminating thoughts that occur late at night or in the wee hours of the morning when someone has a tendency to replay scenarios over and over in their head or can’t stop making mental to-do lists.
Passionflower is also a favorite in-the-moment remedy among parents whose little ones get anxious or tend to wake up in the night. This herb is very supportive for women during their menstrual cycles as it can relieve cramping pains, ease moodiness, and promote a sense of calm. It also can be helpful for musculoskeletal pain and joint inflammation, making it a great remedy for anyone struggling to find restful sleep due to strains, pains, or soreness. Passionflower is safe for children, elders, and breastfeeding mothers, and many herbalists and midwives also use it during pregnancy.
The last herb we’ll take a peek at today is California Poppy. This glorious golden flower is not only our state flower but is a potent medicinal as well! This herb supports overall health and balance within the nervous system, grounding us in a state of calm equilibrium. It is a gentle sedative that eases insomnia and restlessness, promoting a night of deep and restful sleep. California Poppy helps to soothe nerves that are tired, stressed, or shocked by recent events. It has classically been used for sleeplessness, insomnia, stress, and anxiety for both adults and children. As a traditional children’s remedy, this herb has been used for many generations as a gentle sedative and even has helped with bedwetting and toothaches.
California Poppy contains various alkaloid compounds that bind to GABA receptors in the body, which then effectively promote calm during times of high stress, worry, and anxiety. Fortunately, California Poppy does not contain any addictive or habit-forming compounds. It is quite bitter, so it is often taken as a tincture with a good bit of raw honey.
Rest assured that there are remedies for getting a good nights sleep! With the help of these 3 gentle yet powerful plant allies + a pleasant sleeping environment, you’re bound to catch some zzz’s.
1. Blankespoor, J. Herbal Immersion Program (The Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine, 2019). 2. Groves, M.N. Body into Balance: An Herbal Guide to Holistic Self-Care (Storey Publishing, 2016). 3. Hoffman, D. Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine (Inner Traditions/Bear & Co., 2003). 4. Romm, A.J. Botanical Medicine for Women’s Health (Churchill Livingstone/Elsevvier, 2010). 5. Romm, A.J. The Natural Pregnancy Book: Herbs, Nutrition, and Other Holistic Choices (Potter/TenSpeed/Harmony, 2011).