There are many herbal remedies used for sleep, relaxation, stress-relief, anxiety-relief, depression, and insomnia. They can be taken as a tea, tincture or capsule. A tincture (liquid extract in a dropper bottle) is the recommended method, as you don't have to get out of bed to brew and drink anything like you would with a tea. Also, when you hold the liquid extract of a tincture under your tongue, it goes directly into the bloodstream, which gives faster results. A capsule has to go through the digestive process and is slower.
Here is a list of herbs and herbal sleep remedies offered by Herb Lore. All are safe and appropriate for use during pregnancy and breastfeeding. One word of caution - don't take so much that you can't hear your baby at night.
They are listed in order of their strength (going from most mild to most powerful):
Rescue Remedy – this is used to help alleviate stress and anxiety, and is calming and centering in nature.
Chamomile – helps alleviate nervous upset, anxiety, restlessness and sleeplessness. It also has pain-relieving properties, and is helpful for colicky and teething babies.
Relax Tincture – this is a combination which includes Lemon Balm, Chamomile, Oatstraw, Lavender Blossom and Skullcap. It is very relaxing and brings a peaceful, mellow feeling. Due to the Lemon Balm, continual, everyday use is discouraged for those who are hypothyroid. Occasional use is considered fine. For those who are hyper-thyroid, Lemon Balm would be helpful. Please see the Lemon Balm information below for details.
Goodnight Combo Lite – this is a combination of Skullcap, Passionflower, and Chamomile, as well as White Chestnut Flower Essence. The Skullcap helps get one to sleep, the Passionflower helps keep them asleep, and the Chamomile adds its relaxing and calming effects. The White Chestnut flower essence helps to quiet mental chatter and is helpful for overcoming insomnia. The Chamomile is what makes this product “lite”. The regular Goodnight Combo contains Valerian Root in place of the Chamomile. In rare cases, Valerian Root can stimulate rather than sedate, so we created an alternative for those folks. (If a product such as Nyquil has been stimulating for you rather than sedating, Valerian Root may do the same thing.)
Skullcap – this is one of my favorites for helping one to relax and fall asleep. Skullcap also has muscle relaxing properties and is helpful for headaches (especially tension headaches).
Goodnight Combo – this product is similar to the Goodnight Combo Lite as it has Skullcap, Passionflower, and White Chestnut flower essence, but it includes Valerian Root rather than the Chamomile. Valerian Root is one of the more powerful herbs used for relaxation and sleep. This is a potent and very effective herbal sleep remedy and is one of our customers' favorite products.
Valerian Root – Valerian Root is one of the most effective herbs used for sleep and relaxation. It is high in calcium and brings a deep, restful sleep. As previously mentioned, Valerian Root can stimulate rather than sedate, but this is quite rare. Valerian Root also helps balance those with ADD and ADHD. For children, we recommend the non-alcohol version.
There are many other herbs and herbal remedies used to promote relaxation and sleep, but these are the ones Herb Lore carries and prefers most. None of them are addictive or habit-forming in any way.
As previously mentioned, we prefer herbs for sleep in a tincture form, as you can keep the bottle right next to your bed. If you find you have need of it, you simply reach over, take 1-2 droppersful (squeezes) or whatever amount works best for you, lay your head back down on the pillow, and before you know it, you will drift off into a restful, peaceful sleep. If you prefer a tea, the droppersful can be put into a cup of hot water and you have instant tea! No need to wait for brewing! If you're a nursing mother, be sure that you take enough to relax you but not so much that you can't hear and wake up for your baby. Be cautious also with taking sleep herbs while co-sleeping with your baby.
NOTE ABOUT ANXIETY, STRESS & DEPRESSION
Depression - If depression is the cause of your sleeplessness, the Happy Day Tincture would be your product of choice. It doesn't work immediately like the Rescue Remedy does, but with use, it does "bring light into the soul" as one customer described it - helping to gently and gradually lift the heaviness and allow us to work through the issue that may be causing it. It was formulated for pregnant and breastfeeding moms with Postpartum Depression, so it is safe for pregnancy and lactation. It is also safe to use in conjunction with anti-depressant medications, and can also be used in conjunction with Rescue Remedy or other sleep or relaxation herbs. Read more about it HERE.
Herb Lore also offers an Anxiety Blend Tincture, specifically to help calm and soothe frayed nerves in moments of stress or anxiety (works within seconds!), as well as an Adrenal Tonic Tincture to be used on a daily basis, to help feed, nourish, heal the adrenals and to help one cope with stress and promote well-being. The Anxiety Blend works right away, whereas the Adrenal Tonic needs to be taken on a daily basis for best results.
Please see THIS LINK to learn more about herbs for anxiety (in the moment, and chronic), for stress, and for depression.
The following are other herbs that are also used as natural, herbal sleep remedies:
Catnip – this herb covers many bases, as it relaxes, calms nerves and helps with tummy upset. It is one of the herbs included in our Relax Tincture and Tummy Tincture.
Passionflower – this herb is used to help keep one asleep, hence its inclusion in our Goodnight Combo Tincture and Goodlight Combo Lite Tincture.
Hops – this herb works very well but is very bitter to the taste. I have to tell you, its probably one of the worst herbs I’ve ever tasted. And because it can cause depression when used over a period of time, we honor it for its ability to bring a wonderful state of relaxation but choose not to include it in any of our formulas.
Lemon Balm – this herb is of the mint family and has a light, lemony scent and taste. It helps to relax and soothe digestive distress. Frequent, everyday use by those who are hypo-thyroid should be avoided however. Lemon Balm, due to its antithyrotropic effects, and can block the conversion of thyroxine to T3 by liver cells. Both of these effects have been noted in IN VITRO STUDIES ONLY – no human reports have been made. Because of this, most herbalists do not consider this an issue and use it freely. Using it on occasion certainly won't cause any problem. For those who are HYPER-thyroid however, Lemon Balm would be a fantastic herb to help bring the levels down and to bring balance.
Lavender – this fragrant blossom is a popular favorite! Just the smell helps to soothe and relax. It helps ease headaches and helps with sleep. Use as a tea or tincture or a small pillow stuffed with Lavender. Use it in a relaxing bath or footsoak. The essential oil is commonly used as an anti-microbial, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal and anti-viral during illness and to help bring down fever. (See the Premium Article entitled Immune System Herbs & Solutions - Ear Infections, Eye Infections, Fevers, Coughs, Colds, Flu, and even Yeast Infections! for details on how to use it for this!)
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written by Pam Caldwell
Certified Herbalist --- Fertility, Pregnancy, Birth, Postpartum & Lactation Specialist