We live in a fast and economy-driven world. We tend to perceive time as very precious. Moreover, this world is forcing us to balance between our social and professional life, leaving us with so little free time. Lack of time, on the other hand, results in forgetting what is best for us, both physically and mentally. One day we just realize that we have not had a good night sleep for ages and that we are tired, exhausted, and grumpy, in a bad mood. We are suffering from sleeping disorder.
Simply put, insomnia is caused by stress and tension. All those sleepless nights are consequence of our worries, grief, depression, and dissatisfaction. Physical problems such as asthma, heart, muscle pains, liver, breathing problems, and digestive problems can also cause insomnia. On the other hand, sleeping disorders can cause problems in communication and relationship with other people. Insomnia can increase anger, aggressiveness, and bad mood.
Lucky for us, insomnia can be treated, and the best remedies are those that come from nature.
Herbal Fighters against Insomnia
With the proliferation of certain pseudo-medical books, the usage of natural remedies that combat insomnia is sometimes neglected. At the same time, we are witnessing increasing interest in natural healing plants by both professionals and nature lovers. The truth is that herbs are synergetic, they work on a particular problem but improve the entire functioning of the body and that’s why they are so powerful in combating insomnia.
Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)
The first time this perennial plant was prescribed as a remedy against insomnia was by Galen of Pergamon, Roman philosopher, surgeon and physician. Native to Europe, valerian was a very famous medicine in ancient Greece and Rome. Throughout history valerian was used in migraine treatment, epileptic seizures, and as a stimulant for different respiratory, digestive and nervous system problems. The most famous usage of valerian is certainly against insomnia so it is often referred to as an alternative to benzodiazepine drugs.
The main substance that combats sleeping disorders is the yellow or brown oil present in dried root. Valerian is rarely prepared in boiling water due to its unusual and for some very unpleasant odour, thus the most common form of usage is in the form of capsules. It is recommended for those who have problems with falling asleep or waking up at night.
Skullcap (Scutellaria laterifolia)
This mint plant from North America is a popular fighter against sleeplessness. It powers are in tannins, scutellarin, volatile oil and catalpol. Alternative medicine popularized this remedy as antispasmodic and astringent.
The above parts of the plant are used in medical purposes and it can be taken as a tea, capsule or tincture.
Catnip (Nepeta cataria)
Native to Europe, from Lamiaceae family, catnip is used to treat nervousness, anxiety and insomnia. It is used as culinary herb, as tea or juice, or tincture and poultice. This mild tranquilizer is very popular due to its delicious taste.
Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)
Lemon balm has a long history of usage for different purpose. Popular in Ancient Greece, lemon balm was used to treat dog bites, toothache, skin eruptions, vomiting, earache, and fever. Today it is famous for it benefits in treating high blood pressure, influenza, bronchial inflammation and mood disorders.
Lemon balm’s leaves with gently lemon scent are very powerful when taken internally to combat anxiety and insomnia. Different researches show that its benefits are also related to increased concentration. Lemon balm tea is the famous remedy, but you can also find capsules and tinctures.
Lavender (Lavendula angustifolia)
This flowering plant was used in ancient Egypt as a medicine. It is a popular garden and landscape plant, used also in culinary. Most people are familiar with the essential oil made from lavender. Nowadays, it is present and highly respected in alternative medicine.
Many use lavender in aromatherapy due to its benefits to nervous system and its influence on mood disorders. Lavender is a plant for relaxation and meditation. Either you use essential oil or lavender tea, the effects are tremendous.
Jatamanasi (Nardostachys jatamans)
Spikenard or Jatamansi is a plant of the Valerian family that is grown in China, India and Nepal. For some people nard is famous for its medical usage and for others for its popularity as a perfume. For instance, in Homer’s Iliad, Achilles used nard oil to perfume Patroklos’s body. As a remedy, jatamanasi can be used both internally and externally. When treating sleeplessness, nard root and fruit is used internally. This plant helps with sleeping problems due to its ability to control certain neurotransmitters in the brain. The root contains valeranone and it can also be used for migraines, headaches, mental instabilities and high blood pressure.
Camomile (Matricaria chamomilla)
This “earth apple”, as Greek called it, is a daisy like plant of the family Asteraceae. Camomile is powerful due to its ability to modulate monoamine neurotransmission. Famous camomile tea is recommended for those who suffer from mild and transient insomnia.
Hops (Humulus lupulus)
Female flowers of Humulus lupus from China are mostly used as a flavouring agent in a bear. It is said that people used to fill pillows with hops in order to cure sleeplessness. One specific component that is partially responsible for the relaxation is dimethylvinyl carbinol, but hops also have diuretic, tonic and anodyne properties.
Taken as a hot tea or in capsule form they are tremendously beneficial for sleeping disorders.
Passion flower (Passiflora incarnate)
These flowering plants have powerful anti-anxiety effects. For more then 200 years passion flower was used for its tranquilizing effects and its sedative characteristics. After first cup of tea you can feel its influence on your mood.
Passion flower can be taken in capsule and concentrated form. Even if you are not suffering from sleeping disorders, passion flower tea can help you feel alert and refreshed.
Unfortunately many people suffer from insomnia and once they treat it, they forget how painful the experience has been. Herbs are surely the best way to combat insomnia, but they are not magical. Nature and human should work hand in hand to bring positive changes. Herbs cannot change your lifestyle patterns. Herb can help you improve it, but you are the one who need to make an effort to reshape the patterns completely.
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