Excerpt from “…Healthy Sleep: A Guide To Natural Sleep Remedies!”
Lavender (L. angustifolia and others) is a shrubby flowering bush indigenous to the mountainous regions of the western Mediterranean and is considered have been first domesticated by the Arabians, then later spread across Europe by the Romans.
Lavender was brought to North America by the Pilgrims and was one of the first garden plants imported to Australia in the 19th century. It can be found in abundance in the wild in many parts of the world as well as being garden grown in a sunny, well-drained area, preferably in mildly alkaline soil. The smaller species will also grow quite easily in well-drained pots. This popular flowering herb’s essential oil has been demonstrated to depress the central nervous system in a manner comparable to pharmaceutical tranquilizers.
Lavender is very useful and effective in its usage as a sleep aid. In addition to the use of lavender flowers in a brewed tea, it may also used in the form of an essential oil distilled from the leaves, flowers and stems of the plant.
Lavender oil can be applied topically to relax the muscles or its aroma can be inhaled for a calming effect. Rubbing lavender essential oil on the feet is a particularly effective method for application, as anything on the feet is absorbed quickly.
It is widely used in aromatherapy and can be added to bathwater, dispersed in a vaporizer or simply dabbed on a tissue and breathed in. The essential oil leaves and flowers can also be employed in a sachet underneath the pillow.
It should be noted that allergic contact dermatitis has been documented in some individuals applying lavender products externally.
To safely detect an allergic reaction it is always a good idea to do a spot test before administering a full application.
Also note that not all varieties of lavender are tranquilizing — some, such as Spanish lavender, can have just the opposite effect.
Lavender Mint Tea (One serving)
* 1 teaspoon fresh lavender flowers (or 1/2 teaspoon dried lavender flowers)
* 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves (or 2 teaspoons dried mint)
* 1 cup boiling water
* Rosemary, lemon balm or lemon verbena, and rose geranium may also be added for an interesting multi-herb herbal tea.
In a teapot or saucepan combine the lavender flowers and mint (either loose or using a tea infuser). Pour boiling water over the mixture; steep 5 minutes. The infuser can then be taken out or the leaves removed with a strainer.
Homemade Lavender Sachet
You will need:
* Lavender plant (stems, leaves or buds)
* Lavender essential oil
* A handkerchief
* 2 needles (1 large to fit 1/4″ ribbon and 1 regular size)
* Ribbon (1/4″ wide)
It should be easy to find all the necessary items listed above from your local craft or floral supply store. You may use lavender harvested from your own plants or order the lavender buds online (just enter “lavender” or “lavender buds” into your favorite search engine to find an online retailer).
1. Fold handkerchief in half, and then fold it in half again. You can iron the handkerchief for a crisper look, or simply leave it as is.
2. Now, sew three sides together using needle and thread (or a sewing machine).
3. Open the unsown side of the handkerchief and proceed to fill it (like a
pillow) with lavender plant pieces and/or buds. Be sure to use a lot of plant material, but don’t stuff it too tight. The end result will be a lot like a beanbag.
Sprinkle the pieces with lavender essential oil. 8 to 10 drops should be more than enough.
4. Thread your large needle with 1/4″ ribbon and loosely thread to keep the plant materials inside your homemade sachet.
5. Tie the whole thing off with a knot.
6. Enjoy your new sachet
In the wild, Valerian root (Valeriana officinalis) is found in high pastures and dry heath land. It flowers in late spring.
The principle components used for medicinal purposes are the roots and rhizomes, which are typically harvested in September and then dried to produce the commonly available herbal product.
Valerian is also known by various folk names: All-Heal, Amantilla, Bloody Butcher, Capon’s Trailer, Cat’s Valerian, English Valerian, Fragrant Valerian, Garden Heliotrope, Phu, Red Valerian, St. George’s Herb, Sets Wale, Set Well, and Vandal Root.
Unlike many other natural herbal sleep aids, to gain the benefits of the effects of valerian root it is necessary to use it on a regular basis, with the full effects coming to fruition slowly and steadily over time.
It should be used for about one month to produce results. Regular use of valerian root promotes deep relaxation and sleep.
Studies suggest that valerian is by far the best natural solution for insomnia and general sleeplessness for most individuals.
Research by P.D. Leatherwood, Ph.D., and F. Chauffard, Ph.D., at Nestlé Research Laboratories in Switzerland, determined that a 450 mg dose of valerian in an aqueous extract is the optimum dose as an insomnia treatment; a higher dose typically results in grogginess without increasing effectiveness, and therefore care should be taken when administering valerian as a treatment for insomnia.
Furthermore, in 1982 Leatherwood and colleagues performed a double-blind crossover study of 128 subjects, which found valerian root to not only be effective as a sedative for insomnia, but also effective in improving the overall quality of sleep in test subjects.
The effects of valerian on the body are similar to that of benzodiazepine, an active ingredient in Valium(TM), but without dulling effects or next-day lethargy (it has been suggested that Valium’s name was inspired by valerian, although the two are completely different chemically and should not be confused as being the same or even related).
Valerian is commonly prescribed as a calming sleep aid and widely recommended for treating anxiety-related sleep problems.
Unlike other commonly prescribed sleep medication, it is entirely nontoxic, does not impair the ability to drive or operate heavy machinery, nor does it exaggerate the effects of alcohol.
It has been documented that valerian can act as a delayed stimulant for some individuals depending on body chemistry.
In the case of certain metabolic conditions, the effect is one of initially calming them down only to cause a surge of energy several hours later – not an effect desired by those interested in using valerian as a nighttime sleeping remedy.
Some professional herbalists suggest taking fresh valerian root extract as opposed to extract from dried valerian, as it is less likely to cause such a reaction.