Monday, May 7, 2012


Lemon balm in late spring

I couldn't get to sleep at all last night... but instead of tossing, I turned up a little sleep tincture - lemon balm, passionflower, hops, St. John's wort - and it did something to me for the rest of that night.

Motherwort in late spring

Like most mints, lemon balm (Melissa officinalis, see Fresh Plant Medicines) is a mild nervine sedative, and it tastes good to boot. Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca) is a less aromatic mint but it works better for perimenopausal and anxiety induced insomnia, especially with heart palpitations.

Passionflower in early summer

Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) is a perennial vine of the American southeast and Central America. An infusion or tincture of the leaves and stunning flowers acts a sedative with a special affinity for calming mental over-stimulation. Since tea at bedtime also provides an unwanted early morning wake-up call, the tincture is better for insomnia in most cases.

Hops in late spring

You're familiar, no doubt, with the bitter flavor of hops (Humulus lupus). You might also have experienced it's sedative effects which are stronger than the alcohol after a single beer. Hops tincture is especially helpful for insomnia with indigestion, heartburn, or irritable colon because of it's smooth muscle relaxant properties. Valerian root (Valeriana officinalis) has similar effects and could be a short-term substitute for hops.

St. John's wort in summer

St. John's wort (Hypericum perforatum) is overused for depression when it may be even more effective for anxiety-related insomnia. Like some other antidepressants, it also helps to keep one from awakening in the night by promoting deeper sleep. This effect is not present in all St. John's worts. If the flower releases a yellow-orange pigment when pinched, an extract from the dried flower buds and flowers of that plant will contain the medicinal effects.

HERBALIST'S NOTE: Avoid excessive direct sun exposure when taking St. John's wort because it can increase risk of sunburn.


St. John's wort - 2 parts
lemonbalm - 1 part
hops - 1 part
passionflower - 1 part

1) From your stock of tincture singles, add .8oz of St. John's wort and .4oz of the other herbs into a 2 ounce dropper bottle;
2) Label the bottle with ingredients, date, and, if desired, dosage;
3) Take 1-2 droppers at bedtime for insomnia.

DOCTOR'S NOTE: Seek evaluation by a health professional for chronic insomnia which may be a symptom of an underlying illness.

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