botanical medicine

calming herbs

herbs for sleep

Lately I’ve been selecting my teas based on the medicinal actions of herbs versus specialty flavours. This is in part due to me wanting to avoid over the counter medications, and not wanting to spend a lot of money on herbal compositions for a self-limiting/occasional condition.

Teas are relatively inexpensive, and if you know what herbs to look for and their associated actions, it can be extremely easy to pick up an already formulated product at the health food store, or make you own (assuming you know of the herbs contraindications/cautions/toxicities).

The following is a blend that I like, to help me stay relaxed throughout the day and get a good night’s sleep (when taken before bed). It is important to note, that when you’re steeping a medicinal tea – the herbs should be steeped for about 10-15mins to get the medicinal effects. So, your tea may not be piping hot anymore, but it will bring about the effects that you want.

Lavender (Lavendula officinalis| Not only does lavender smell wonderful, but it has a pleasant flavour in a tea. The actions that I particularly like is that it’s a nervine and an sedative. Nervines can relax and energize the nervous system, as well as improve its tone and function. Sedatives aid in relaxing the nervous system, reducing nervous tension, and can induce sleep.

Chamomile (Matricaria recrutiata| Fun fact: I’ve never tasted chamomile before tasting this particular blend. My mom was unenthused when she noticed this blend contained this herb (she’s used to the various types of ‘special tea’ that I sometimes bring home). I like this herb because it is also a nervine and sedative, and also because it helps with stomach issues (which is pretty helpful when you find yourself not eating well throughout the day).

Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) | This herb works as a sedative (notice a pattern here?), and a carminative. Carminatives act by soothing intestinal spasm, and generally helps with a ‘nervous’ stomach.

So, the next time you find yourself at the grocery store or David’s Tea, don’t just smell the teas – take a look at the ingredients and see if any of the herbs are a perfect fit for a specific action that you’re looking for.

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