I’ve never been a nervous person but about 10 years ago I started noticing that I’d get flustered and drop things when I was working and someone would start talking to me. And I noticed a feeling of irritability throughout the day that wasn’t even around people. Welcome to the beginning of peri-menopause. It gets worse before it gets better but that is a post for another day.
Today I’d like to share with you some herbs that are very helpful for irritability, nervousness, anxiety and even insomnia. I have tried all of these herbs in the ways that I will describe for you. But first……….
Do not ever take herbs if you are pregnant or nursing unless they are prescribed by your Naturopathic Doctor or Midwife. Do not take these particular herbs if you are taking ANY other prescription medicines.
Herbal Medicine is no joke, its not as simple as drinking a cup of tea in the morning and then your troubles vanish away. Herbs take time to work and herbs are Medicine. Drugs.
Now that you are warned and aware, lets talk about these herbs that are so helpful for all those symptoms I listed……..
Chamomile ~ I’ve talked about Chamomile before here. Chamomile is one of those herbs that is very mild, usually good for adults and small children alike (but the warning still goes if you are pregnant or nursing), and very helpful for relaxing and calming.
If you have seasonal allergies, you might want to lay off the Chamomile. It is part of the asteracea family of plants like common Ragweed.
If you aren’t allergic however, you can make a cup of tea using a heaping Tablespoon of Chamomile per 8 ounces of water. Cover the cup and let the tea steep for 5 minutes. Its important to cover the cup because Chamomile’s calming oils will be lost to you if you leave it uncovered. Sweeten with honey to taste. You can take Chamomile as often as you like, but it is especially helpful in the evening before bed or before any stressful event.
Passionflower ~ My husband collects passion flower on country roadsides and in fields. He finds it on old fence rows abundantly. He dries the leaves and flowers together for making tea. Passionflower has been found to work as well as the benzodiazepine (valium) class of sedatives. One study has shown it to be effective as an anti-spasmodic when used as a tincture. I use it in a tea with some peppermint to help me sleep in the evening. I use 1 Tablespoon Passionflower, 1 tsp peppermint and steep for 5 minutes, covered. Sweeten with honey if desired.
Hops ~ No, I’m not recommending beer for insomnia. But hops, which is used to give a bitter taste to beer is a natural sedative. Hops is extremely bitter so just use a pinch in your tea to give you a sedative effect. Do not combine hops with prescription sleep aids, it has an additive effect. An additive effect according to the Medical dictionary online is: An effect in which two substances or actions used in combination produce a total effect the same as the sum of the individual effects. I pick hops at my uncle’s house, dry it, store it in a jar and then when I use it I just pull out one of the blossoms and crumble it into a cup with some chamomile and peppermint to cover up the bitter taste. I Pour boiling water over it, steep for about 5 minutes then I sweeten it with honey.
I have also made a calming Sleep Pillow for some of my children over the years. Its helpful when the child is ill and is having problems sleeping. I put 1 cup hops, 1 cup lavender blossoms and 1 cup of flax seeds (to give the pillow a little heft) into a little sack, sew up the end and put it in the child’s bed near his or her pillow. The fragrance of the lavender and hops is pleasant and helpful for relaxing so its easier for the child to go to sleep naturally. If the pillow happens to tear open, the ingredients won’t harm the child, even if she ingests some of them, but I wouldn’t use this for an infant because of the potential for the pillow to be torn apart, I just use it for older children.
Lemon Balm ~ Melissa officianalis should not be used by persons who have hypothyroidism as it inhibits the action of the thyroid gland. Right now we only have a big pot of Lemon Balm and I hope to grow it in the herb garden proper this year. I cut off stems and leaves and pack them in a mason jar, then pour cheap vodka over it. I let this soak in a cool, dark place for about 3 weeks then I strain out the plant material and bottle up the lemon balm vodka. This tincture can be used for anxiety. Just put about 1/2 teaspoon in a small glass of water and drink it a couple of times a day as needed. You can also make a tea with lemon balm. It takes pretty good so just use about a tablespoon of dried herb and sweeten with honey.
Valerian ~ This herb stinks so bad. I can hardly bear to take it or drink a tea with it. I really think it would work better for me if it was in tincture form but right now all I have is the organic root. If you take too much of this herb you get a Valerian hangover, a groggy, sleepy feeling that you can’t shake the next day so be very careful when using it. Its a great pain reliever though and worth the stink if you are in serious pain. Some people use it for chronic pain and for that you’d need to take a daily therapeutic dose , I recommend you talk to a naturopath about that.
We don’t grow or collect Valerian root, I buy it at www.moutainroseherbs.com
If you simply need it for pain you should start with a small amount, a 1/2 teaspoon or so, in a cup with other strongly flavored herbs like peppermint and chamomile. If that doesn’t give you the relief you need, use a teaspoon next time. Watch your morning-after symptoms. Honestly, you’ll have to experiment with taste. I can only use it with peppermint, lots of peppermint. But it helps so much with a bad headache, that I use it whenever I need it.
Catnip ~ Not just for cats. Its a wonderfully mild sedative that can be used for children, as long as you check with your child’s doctor or naturopath first. Make a cup using 1 Tablespoon of the catnip herb and boiling water, let steep 5 minutes, sweeten with honey.
Catnip looks a lot like Lemon Balm and all the other mints. If you are gathering in the wild, be sure you know what you are getting. Otherwise, just buy it at a nursery and grow it, well identified with a marker or buy it already dried.
There are several other herbs used for anxiety, sleeplessness and pain, but these are the ones I use and that I use for my family. I’ll post more later on herbs for other symptoms.
What herbs do you use for insomnia, anxiety, etc?