Herbs have been used in preparations to aid sleep since ancient times in all cultures. But ever since the advent of scientific and structured medicine, it has not received the same favor with the public.
This is partially because of the lack of well-organized research behind it. Its "folk medicine" status made the people wary of its origins and effectiveness.
But in recent times, as more research is being done on the chemistry of the plants and the effects of their potent chemicals on humans, well-reputed universities have come forward with studies that show that certain herbs may indeed bestow certain benefits on those with insomnia.
Here’s an indicative list of such herbs:
Chamomile is a daisy-like plant with yellow-centred white flowers native to Europe and Asia. Chamomile is rich in a particular flavonoid called chrysin. Chrysin has sedative properties, thus helping as a sleep aid and a stress-buster.
Chamomile is available in many varieties, the most popular of which are the German, Roman and the English chamomile. An herbal infusion of chamomile could be a great warm beverage to take an hour before bedtime to reduce anxiety and to induce sleep gently.
Chamomile essential oil could also be helpful if a few drops are added to your bath before bedtime. Chamomile may also be used in support therapy for conditions such as chest colds, sore throats, gingivitis, acne, eczema, inflammatory bowel disease and a few types of stomach ulcers. (1)
Lavender is native to the temperate climates of south Europe, Mediterranean and India. They are most commonly cultivated for their essential oil. The most common types of lavender are French, English and Spanish lavenders.
A study conducted by the Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Medical University of Vienna in 2010 examined the anxiolytic effects of lavender oil and its influence on sleep quality.
Lavender oil, with a high percentage of linalool and linalyl acetate, showed meaningful efficacy in alleviating anxiety and related sleep disturbances. (2)
Lavender oil can be diluted with any carrier oil and applied on the skin.