Herbal Antidepressants: Sleeping Aids

  Herbal Antidepressants: Sleeping Aids

Calming Sleepy Herbs

There are a number of herbs with a reputation for their calming and sleep inducing properties. Listed below are the ones we stock. Read our blog article on Herbal Anti-depressants here.

 

Catnip

(Nepeta cataria)
Catnip Benefits

Used by herbalists for centuries to treat anxiety and other nervous disorders, Catnip is so safe it is a long standing remedy for irritability and restless sleep in toddlers and babies. The sedative nature of this wonderfully calming herb helps to induce a fitful and restful sleep, making Catnip the go to remedy for insomnia or other sleep related problems. 

The active components of Catnip are "iridoid glycosides", which are thought to contribute to this herb's anxiolytic and sedative effects. 

Good for... Anxiety, Sleep
 

Chamomile

(Matricaria Chamomilla )
Chamomile Benefits

As a relaxant, Chamomile depresses the central nervous system, reducing anxiety whilst not disrupting normal performance or function. This is due to the active principles of Chamomile including flavonoids, glycosides and essential oils.

In a 2011 study published in the journal, “European Neuropsychopharmacology”, it was found that the phytochemicals in Chamomile have 3 effects on the central nervous system that contribute to the herb’s anxiolytic and sedative properties. It binds to the GABA receptors which in turn reduces the activity of the cells in the sleep centre of the brain.

Chamomile was considered one of the nine sacred herbs of the Anglo-Saxons and was used ritually to ward off diseases and to promote health.

Good for... Anxiety, Sleep
 

Lavender

(Lavandula angustifolia)
Lavender Benefits

Lavender has been used for centuries as a natural sedative and remedy for anxiety and depression. It has a complex mix of active components including "terpenes" - small molecules that are absorbed into the bloodstream via the nose or lungs. They are so small that they easily cross the blood/brain barrier and have an impact on neurological processes. 

Lavender has been proven as effective at treating anxiety as its pharmaceutical counterparts. In a study published in the journal "Phytomedicine", it was shown that lavender helps with restless, nervousness, anxiety and insomnia.

Good for... Anxiety, Sleep
 

Lemon Balm

(Melissa officinalis)
Lemon Balm Benefits

Lemon Balm is an anti-anxiety nootropic (a herb used to enhance cognitive function). Used since the Middle Ages to reduce stress and anxiety, science has caught up with recent studies verifying these effects.

One of the active compounds of this soothing herb is "rosmarinic acid" - an enzyme which effectively increases GABA (gamma amino-butyric acid) in the brain. GABA is one of the inhibitory neurotransmitters, used by the brain to prevent over-excitement and attain balance. It is responsible for ensuring that we are not overly stressed and plays a role in sleep cycles. Increasing stimulation of GABA receptors will produce a sedative or calming effect and explains why Lemon Balm works well as an anti-anxiety herb.

Good for... Anxiety, Mood, Sleep
 

Lemongrass

(Cymbopogon flexuosus)
Lemongrass Benefits

Lemongrass is a “nervine” – a herb that specifically supports the nervous system to combat symptoms of stress and anxiety. It lowers levels of stress hormones and acts as a tonic for frazzled nerves, making it beneficial in the treatment of various nervous disorders such as vertigo and uncontrollable shaking.

The calming properties of Lemongrass make it very helpful in promoting a good night’s sleep, especially where stress and anxiety are the cause of sleepless nights. It helps to soothe the mind and body by inducing the release of serotonin, the pre-cursor to the sleep hormone melatonin. 

A cup of Lemongrass tea or diffusing the essential oil in your bedroom can help you to relax and wind down in readiness for sleep.

Good for... Anxiety, Mood, Sleep
 

Lime Flowers

(Tilia cordata)
Lime Flowers Benefits

Lime Flowers are classed as a nervine and have a long history of use as a folk remedy for improving mental function, moods and sleep. One of the active ingredients in Linden is an essential oil called farnesol, a sedative which helps relax the cardiovascular system, which in turn helps to curb stress.

Good for... Anxiety, Mood, Sleep
 

Marjoram

(Origanum marjorana )
Marjoram Benefits

Marjoram has an extremely calming effect on the body and can actually promote feelings of happiness – this is why it is a great herb to use for grief, shock and PTSD.

With strong sedative qualities, Marjoram essential oil can be diffused in the bedroom to create a warming, nurturing atmosphere that is conducive to a good night’s sleep. If muscular soreness and tension is preventing you from sleeping, a night time massage or bath using the essential oil can soothe away aches and pains whilst promoting a relaxed state of mind.

Good for... Anxiety, Mood, Sleep
 

Motherwort

(Leonurus cardiaca)
Motherwort Benefits

When depression, anxiety and panic attacks are the result of grief and/or heartbreak, Motherwort is the herb to heal your heart. Used as far back as the Ancient Greeks to reduce anxiety and calm the heart, Motherwort soothes the nervous system and acts as a powerful vasodilator, regulating heart rhythm and minimising palpitations. 

It has a profound effect on the nervous system, with active compounds such as "leonine" relaxing the nervous system, resulting in elevated mood and relief from nervous debility. In higher doses, Motherwort can also act as a sedative, greatly aiding restfulness and sleep quality. 

Good for... Anxiety, Mood, Sleep
 

Noni

(Morinda citrifolia)
Noni Benefits

Neurons in the brain need GABA to induce calmness when over-excitement occurs. GABA also works to produce endorphins which fight depression and anxiety. Research shows that Noni acts as a natural sedative and anti-anxiety superfruit that supports GABA production and activity in the brain. A recent study found that Noni supports GABA mechanisms in the nervous system, naturally allowing it to calm down and thereby reducing anxiety.

Good for... Anxiety, Nutrition, Sleep
 

Passion Flower

(Passiflora incarnate)
Passion Flower Benefits

If depression is related to the menopause then Passion Flower could be the most effective herb. As well as alleviating symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats (which are in themselves depressing enough), the alkaloids "chrysin" and "benzoflavone" present in this herb have been found to increase GABA (gamma amino-butyric acid) in the brain. GABA is one of the inhibitory neurotransmitters, used by the brain to prevent over-excitement and attain balance. It also helps to decrease the activity of depression inducing brain cells.

If depression, anxiety and menopause symptoms are causing sleep disruption and insomnia, Passion Flower's tranquilising effect can induce a restful sleep. 

Good for... Anxiety, Mood, Hormones, Sleep
 

Patchouli

(Pogostemon cablin )
Patchouli Benefits

Of the many active constituents in Patchouli, A-Patchoulene specifically acts as a sedative and can greatly help to improve sleep quality. Inhalation, massage or a warm night time bath using Patchouli essential oil can calm down a hyperactive nervous system, gently relaxing the mind and body in preparation for a restful night’s sleep. It is an especially beneficial oil for insomnia and an inability to drop off to sleep due to an overactive mind.

Inhaling Patchouli essential oil stimulates the production of serotonin and dopamine, the feel good hormones which help to eliminate feelings of anxiety and anger. The release of these hormones reduces stress and tension which leads to a sense of overall well-being and can bring about a more positive outlook on life.

Good for... Anxiety, Mood, Sleep
 

Skullcap

(Scutellaria lateriflora)
Skullcap Benefits

Before the advent of pharmaceutical tranquilisers, Skullcap was the go to herb for the relief of anxiety and nervous tension. Studies have since shown it exhibits “anxiolytic activity” in animals and humans – meaning it inhibits anxiety. Herbalist Richard Whelan has noticed in his own clinical use of Skullcap that in strong doses (especially with the tea), it has quite a strikingly calming effect on agitated individuals.

If anxiety is leaving you unable to sleep, Skullcap is and extremely beneficial herb for insomnia and sleep disorders. While many remedies, both traditional and herbal, can lull you to sleep like Skullcap, most leave you groggy in the morning. Skullcap promotes sound sleep without the unwanted side effects, leaving you feeling refreshed and revitalised in the morning.

Good for... Anxiety, Sleep
 

Vervain

(Verbena officinalis)
Vervain Benefits

Used by herbalists for millennia to combat depression and mood swings, Vervain is a deeply penetrating nervine that soothes and sedates the nervous system. It is a relaxing and uplifting herb that can stimulate the release of the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin, enhancing mood and well being. 

Vervain is also effective in promoting a good night's sleep without rendering the user groggy in the morning. 

Good for... Anxiety, Mood, Sleep
 

Vetivert

(Andropogon Zizanioides)
Vetivert Benefits

Vetivert essential oil is also known as the “Oil of Tranquility”, with sedative properties that help to diminish feelings of restlessness, anxiety, panic and anger.

A recent study published in the "Journal of Medicinal Plants Studies", found that Vetivert essential oil is particularly good for treating anxiety and stress because it relieves inflammation of the nervous system, which plays a major role in our mental and emotional state. Another 2015 study found that Vetivert has anti-anxiety abilities similar to that of the drug diazepam.

The warm, earthy and woody scent make this oil perfect for diffusion in an aromatherapy burner in the bedroom to help soothe away the tensions of the day and promote a restful night’s sleep.

Good for... Anxiety, Sleep
 

Wild Lettuce

(Lactuca virosa)
Wild Lettuce Benefits

A powerful nervine and sedative, Wild Lettuce is a wonderfully soothing herb. It secretes a milky white fluid, "lactucarium" which contains the active compounds lactupicrinlactucin and lactucopicrin. These compounds have been found to possess analgesic activity, along with sedative activity. This makes it very useful in the treatment of insomnia and anxiety - it is also called a feeble opium because it does not upset the digestive system. However, it is said to produce a euphoric, dreamy state making it much easier to drop off to sleep.

This sedative effect make it especially beneficial to an overactive nervous system and it’s particularly good for hyperactive children.

Good for... Anxiety, Sleep