The hypnotic herbs are a class of plants which encourage a state of calm and relaxation. Each one has its own specific characteristics, but as a group they all can be safely and effectively used to naturally induce sleep. Some are more potent, such as Jamaican dogwood, and others are gentle enough for young children, such as chamomile.
How do these herbs work? They act on the central nervous system, calming nerves and encouraging feelings of tranquillity. They also help to relax tense muscles, as well as other bodily systems. Some may lower blood pressure. Hypnotics with anti-spasmodic properties are good for relieving minor pain and cramps. They also can quell irritating coughs. Many of these healing plants are good for relieving minor digestive problems such as an upset stomach.
List of Herbs
These are some of the most readily available hypnotics:
- Passion flower is an ideal herb for transient insomnia. It can also be used to relieve pain from fibromyalgia.
- Wild lettuce is useful for insomnia, restlessness, and nervousness. As an anti-spasmodic it is also good for nagging, dry coughs and muscle aches.
- Jamaican dogwood is one of the more potent hypnotics. It is effective for both insomnia and pain, but it should be used cautiously.
- Skullcap is good for calming hysteria, inducing sleep, and relieving tension, stress, and depression due to exhaustion.
- Valerian is a very popular relaxing herb. Its sedative properties are useful for insomnia and tension. It is also useful for moderate pain.
- Motherwort is a hypnotic herb for conditions related to the heart. It calms and strengthens this organ. Use for rapid heart beat caused by stress and anxiety.
- Hops relaxes the central nervous system. Use this herb for insomnia, headaches, and tension. Do not use hops if you have depression.
- Californian poppy is a safe, yet potent alternative to opium poppy. It can be used to treat restlessness, excitability, and insomnia.
How to Use
To safely use these herbs, only take a single dose. For herbal teas, this would be one to two teaspoons of the dried herb, infused in one cup of
boiling water. For herbal tinctures, one to two mL is sufficient. Many of these herbs work well when blended together. For a restful sleep, try taking skullcap with passion flower and hops, or wild lettuce with valerian.
Are Hypnotics Safe?
The majority of these herbs are safe for general use as long as they are used properly. Some hypnotic plants are however very strong. Flowers such as the opium poppy are considered illegal and should be avoided. All of the herbs listed here are fine for inducing sleep and promoting calm. It is important however not to abuse even the more gentle plants. Do not mix hypnotics with alcohol or other drugs. Do not take an excess of any herbs. Two cups of valerian tea is not harmful, but taking four or five doses of wild lettuce tincture before driving a car is not safe. An excess could cause drowsiness and lower blood pressure too much.
Use reasonable judgement with these herbs. If unfamiliar with the effects of a plant, take a very small amount and find out how your body reacts before taking more. If unsure, if you are on any type of medication, pregnant, or if you have a pre-existing medical condition, talk to a medical professional before using hypnotics.
Why is this class of herbs so important? Hypnotic herbs are not only great for relieving chronic stress, tension, anxiety, and insomnia, but they are good for overall well-being. In a holistic view of health, psychological well-being is necessary for physical well-being. Understanding how to induce restful sleep and soothe the body and mind with herbal remedies is a powerful tool for reaching and maintaining a state of balanced harmony.
Hoffmann, David. “The Complete Illustrated Holistic Herbal: A Safe and Practical Guide to Making and Using Herbal Remedies.” (Element Books, 1996).
Hoffmann, David. “Hypnotic.” (Healthy) https://www.healthy.net/scr/article.aspx?Id=1487
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