The Sleep Series- Part 2
There are many herbs that can be employed by a herbalist when sleep is a key focus area for the client. In this Part 2 of my “sleep series” I will outline a few of the many herbs that can help with sleep. Some herbs help us to relax our minds and muscles, others help to stay asleep for longer while others can help with pain that stops us sleeping. Your naturopath or herbalist will know which ones are right for you.
For Part 1 of the Sleep Series click here
Passionflower Passiflora incarnata
The ariels parts (leaves) of the beautiful Passionflower vine have a well-known anxiolytic and sedative actions. Passionflower is a gentle and child friendly herb and can be used simply as a tea prior to bedtime. Passionflower may be a useful addition to an herbal sleep formula for someone struggling to both fall asleep and stay asleep. It is thought to promote REM sleep meaning you’ll wake feeling more refreshed
Kava Piper methysticum
It feels to me that Kava is experiencing a real surge in popularity in Western Herbal Medicine in recent years. If you’ve been to Fiji or another South Pacific Island you’ll likely have heard of Kava. It functions as a central nervous system depressant. It has muscle relaxant and anxiolytic actions. Kava is often prescribed in tablet form due to the dose required, but it can also be added to a liquid formula as a high dose herb. I quite like the taste of Kava. It is sweet and makes a lovely addition to a liquid blend.
Skullcap Scutellaria lateriflora
The arial parts of skullcap (i.e. all of the plant above the ground) makes a wonderful nervine tonic. Skullcap acts as a mild sedative and is therefore a very nourishing herb for anyone suffering from insomnia. In particular, Skullcap is known for its ability to help with sleep maintenance (i.e. wakings during the night). Skullcap is a great herb if you are ‘tired and wired’.
Valerian Valeriana officinalis
Many of my clients have heard of Valerian. This odourous herb is possibly one of the most popular ‘sleep’ herbs in Australia. The root and rhizome posses Valerian’s anxiolytic, mild sedative and spasmolytic actions. Interestingly, clinical data on Valerian suggests it has a relevant role in managing anxiety while maintaining cognitive function. It’s constituents are thought to inhibit sympathetic nervous system neurons thereby activating GABA receptors. In other words, they have a calming effect on the brain and nervous system.
Jamaica Dogwood Piscidia erythrina
Commonly used for pain management, the root bark of Jamaican Dogwood has mild sedative effects. Traditional indications include prolonged insomnia, restlessness and neuralgia to name a few. I find Jamaica Dogwood to be a useful addition for clients struggling to sleep due to pain such as sciatica, headaches and migraines or tooth aches.