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.



(Nepeta cataria)

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


(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


(Lavandula officinalis)

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

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


(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

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 and fitful sleep. 

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


(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


(Verbena officinalis)

Used by herbalists for millenia 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

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