28 Apr Soothing Herbs for Restful Sleep
Lavender (Lavendula species), Chamomile (Matricaria recutita), Oats (Avena sativa)
Three herbs well known for calming effects are Lavender, Chamomile and Oats. Perhaps, not quite as well known as the first two herbs, Avena sativa (Oats Milky Seed or Oatstraw) is the grain* source of oatmeal. The entire plant is abundant in minerals and trace nutrients, in particular the B-vitamins, calcium, and magnesium, which help soothe and strengthen the nervous system. As an herbal remedy, oats can ease the effects of stress, anxiety or exhaustion and resolve sleeplessness. Oats contain the amino acid tryptophan, which research shows promotes sleep. In fact, Scottish folks suggest a bowl of oatmeal before bedtime to ensure restful sleep!
Of its many medicinal uses, lavender is known worldwide as an herbal “rescue-remedy” for reducing stress, anxiety and tension. Its strong, relaxation-inducing scent is used in massage therapy lotions, candles, bath salts, tinctures and essential oils. As one of the few essential oils that can be applied directly to the skin, a dab of lavender on the inside of your wrist can help soothe a stressful moment. Lavender is also used in teas, often paired with chamomile. If you are not a tea-drinker, dried lavender can be added to a sachet and placed beneath your pillow to help induce sleep. I always keep lavender essential oil handy to sooth my son, when he has hard time to fall asleep.
Chamomile has been used for centuries as an herbal remedy for easing stress and insomnia. Today, these uses continue and we also have good clinical evidence for the safe use of chamomile preparations to help reduce inflammation, promote more restful sleep, ease colic and digestive upset, and facilitate wound healing when used in a cream. While chamomile seems to reduce the effects of anxiety, which can contribute to sleeplessness, more research is necessary to demonstrate the specific properties of chamomile that contribute to its effects.
Since there are many different ways to prepare these herbs, and some people can be allergic to certain herbs, do check with your wellness practitioner for the best approach to help you relax and get a good night’s sleep.
*If you have sensitivity or allergy to gluten, be sure to use an oat product produced using gluten-free manufacturing practices.
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