We all have times when stress, anxiety, and sleeplessness enter our lives. Here are traditional herbal remedies to help.
First calm thyself. If gardening or another relaxing activity doesn't calm your nerves and make you sleep well, try a tea (really a tisane, from the Greek for "medicinal brew.)
- Teas of chamomile, basil, marjoram, or basil help ease stress. Use about 1 ounce fresh herbs (half of that if dried) for every 2 to 3 cups water.
- A tea of elderberry flowers is considered relaxing to the nerves and is sleep inducing, too. (Caution! Avoid if pregnant.)
- For insomnia, drink bee balm which acts as a mild sedative, calming the nerves and aiding sleep. Take an infusion of 2 teaspoons chopped leaves in 1 cup boiling water.
- Drink rosemary tea to alleviate melancholy or depression.
- Native America tea ingredients for insomnia included lady's slipper (decocted), yarrow, mullein, hops, and purslane (decocted).
- Valerian tea (or capsules) is a natural sleep aide. In infusions, 1 ounce of the roots in 1 pint boiling water is a common recipe, consumed by wineglass as needed. (Caution: Too high a dose may lead to negative side effects!)
- First, do not eat your final meal late in the evening, and keep the meal light.
- Eating lettuce with your dinner is supposed to be calming, helping you to sleep and have pleasant dreams. Some say you should not have vinegar with your lettuce.
- Mandarin oranges are soporifics, so consider adding them to your evening meal to help insomnia.
- Native Americans reportedly ate raw onions to induce sleep. (They also used a variety of herbal syrups and poultices but they're a bit too complicated for most of us today.)
- Trying to remain relaxed but alert? Some studies suggest that the smell of apples, apple cider vinegar, or spiced apples have this effect. The right smell can make all the difference.
Massages and Rubs
- Massage the temples with lavender oil.
- A warm bath with a couple of drops of chamomile oil aides sleeping. Add a slash of lavender oil for a relaxing aroma.
- For a relaxing body rub, soak equal parts finely chopped dandelions, burdock (roots and/or aerial parts), yellow dock, and lobelia in 1 quart rubbing alcohol for two weeks. Apply externally.
- Strew lavender in the linen closet to scent your bed sheets with this mildly narcotic herb.
- Try putting a few drops of lavender oil in your nose—gently, with a cotton swab (Q-tip).
- Sprinkle infusions of dill on your pillowcases and quickly iron them dry or fluff them in a clothes dryer.
- Dill will also lull cranky babies to sleep. Add dill infusion to the bath, sprinkle on a baby's blanket, or use as a hair rinse.
- Sage is considered a "ghost medicine," used to prevent nightmares. Strew it on the floor or in the bed.
- Keep in mind: Not every fragrant herb is suitable for a good night's sleep. Some can have the reserve effect. You may wish to consult a herbalist.
A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor's book.