2 Herbal Teas That Can Improve Sleep Quality

People often look for natural and safe remedies to combat common health and wellness problems. While some ailments obviously require professional medical care, others at times can be treated effectively with natural remedies. Sleep difficulties have long been treated with a variety of herbs and plant medicine. Here are two varieties of herbal tea that have been proven to help you sleep.

Chamomile (Matricaria Recutita, Matricaria Chamomilla)

Chamomile is an herbaceous annual plant with fragrant leaves and white flowers [1] that has been used for thousands of years for various medicinal purposes. Chamomile is described in medical texts from ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome for calming, treating reddening of the skin, and for weather-related dry skin.

More recently, a variety of clinical trials and research studies have demonstrated the efficacy of chamomile in treating anxiety [2], depression [3], skin lesions [6], mouth ulcers [5], irritable bowel syndrome [4], and other conditions [1]. Although there are many uses for chamomile, one of the most common and well-known is for the sedative effect, which helps with sleep. Chamomile is widely known as a mild sedative, which may be due to apigenin (a flavonoid) that binds to the brain’s benzodiazepine receptors [7], causing chamomile extract to have benzodiazepine-like hypnotic activity [8].

For practical home use, a simple brewed cup of hot or cold chamomile tea may help you fall asleep faster and sleep longer. This safe and effective remedy for sleep difficulties has been demonstrated to have very few risks, barring allergies to the chamomile plant.

Valerian Root (Valeriana Officinalis)

Valerian root is another plant that has been used for medicinal purposes since ancient times. Like chamomile, valerian’s sedative effects are caused by some of the constituents of the plant binding with benzodiazepine receptors, as well as other receptors in the nervous system [9]. Evidence from clinical research has supported valerian root use for insomnia and poor sleep quality, and the root has been shown to shorten wakefulness and reduce night awakenings without causing the “hangover” effect seen with some medications for sleep [9]. With these benefits in mind, you may be ready to brew up a strong cup of tea and head off to bed.

One thing to consider, however, is the taste of the tea. Many people report that the flavor of valerian root tea is “earthy” or “woodsy,” and some even describe the taste as “like dirt.” To combat the possibly off-putting flavor, milk or sweetener can be added. If the taste is intolerable, valerian root is also available in pill form and has sleep results similar to those seen with the tea. Valerian is generally considered to be safe when used at recommended doses but should be avoided by pregnant and/or nursing women and children under 3 years old [10].

Sources

[1] herbalgram.org/resources/herbalgram/issues/108/table-of-contents/hg108-herbpro-chamomile/ [2] Amsterdam JD, Li Y, Soeller I, Rockwell K, Mao JJ, Shults J. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of oral Matricaria recutita (chamomile) extract therapy for generalized anxiety disorder. J Clin Psychopharmacol.2009;29:378-382. [3] Amsterdam JD, Shults J, Soeller I, Mao JJ, Rockwell K, Newberg AB. Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) may provide antidepressant activity in anxious, depressed humans: an exploratory study. Alt Ther Health Med. 2012;18(5):44-49. [4] Agah S, Taleb A, Moeini R, Gorji N, Nikbakht H, Soltani-Kermanshahi M. Chamomile efficacy in patients of the irritable bowel syndrome. Der Pharma Chemica. 2015;7(4):41-45. [5] Tadbir AA, Pourshahidi S, Ebrahimi H, Hajipour Z, Memarzade MR, Shirazian S. The effect of Matricaria chamomilla(chamomile) extract in Orabase on minor aphthous stomatitis, a randomized clinical trial. Journal of Herbal Medicine. 2015;5:71-76. [6] Charousaei F, Dabirian A, Mojab F. Using chamomile solution or a 1% topical hydrocortisone ointment in the management of peristomal skin lesions in colostomy patients: results of a controlled clinical study. Ostomy Wound Management. 2011;57(5):28-36. [7] Srivastava, J. K., Shankar, E., & Gupta, S. (2010). Chamomile: A herbal medicine of the past with bright future. Molecular medicine reports, 3(6), 895-901. [8]Shinomiya K, Inoue T, Utsu Y, Tokunaga S, Masuoka T, Ohmori A, Kamei C. Hypnotic activities of chamomile and passiflora extracts in sleep-disturbed rats. Biol Pharm Bull. 2005;28:808-810. [9] herbalgram.org/resources/herbclip/herbclip-news/2019/valerian/ [10] healthline.com/nutrition/valerian-root#side-effects

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