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Looking for sleep remedy?
These days market is flooded with all types of sleep aids . Anything from sleep pills to herbal tablets, nutrient powders, pillow mists, herbal teas and probiotic formulas that promise a good night's sleep. Such large product range can make it a bit overwhelming for most of us when we look for a natural sleep remedy.
As human we all have different life styles, different genetic profile with unique childhoods and up bringing that has shaped up our behaviors, belief system and mind set. All of that have made us a unique human being with unique emotional, psychological and physical needs so while one sleep remedy can suit one person perfectly it can be of no or little use to another person. That's why traditional herbal medicine does not believe in the idea of "One solution for all". As a Herbal Tinkerer we prefer herbal tea over any other forms of remedies when it comes to sleep aids.
By reading product labels you can easily establish that the majority of sleep remedies contain preservatives, additives, fillers or binding agents that can have side effects on our bodies. Herbal tea on the other hand if selected from certified organic range and chosen in loose leaf form can have little or zero preservatives, pesticides, additives, herbicides or any of the unbeneficial substances that are known to have side effects. Herbal teas also easily absorbed by our body which makes them gentle on our digestive system hence thery are well desirable by people who are under medications or have sensitive tummies.
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How to choose Herbs for Sleep
Tea bags or loose leaf ?
Tea bags are great for their convenience however if you plan to drink herbal tea for medicinal purposes then tea bags may not be the best option. 1 to 1.5 tea spoons of herbs is recommended for a cup of tea ( 300-350ml boiling water ). Most tea bags contain much smaller amount of herbs and usually they are shredded to small pieces (called tea bag cuts). This is so they can be handled and packed by machineries into tea bags. Also since herbs cannot be seen in the tea bags then its difficult to determine the quality of the finished product. This is specifically important where tea bags are made by using imported herbs that have already been stored for an extended period of time. You can test this by simply cutting open a tea bag and see the colour of the herbs for yourselves. Healthy and effective herbs should have fresh and vibrant colours with fresh and natural aromas. Faded colours indicate old and inferior herbs.
Best Herbs for Sleep
Single herbs or formulas ?
There are lots of herbs that traditionally known as sleep aids. As a role of thumb if sleep issue is acute then a single herb solution is the way to go however if its a chronic issue then a formula is used instead of a single herb protocol. Formulas are generally a combination of two or more herbs blended by a herbalist or a naturopath and it requires a detailed consultation. Also If your sleep disorder is acute but you are pregnant or breast feeding or taking medication then you need to talk to a health professional before taking up any types of herbs as a natural sleep aid. Since every person is unique when it comes to sleep issues then you can start with a more gentle herb and move up in scale of strength to arrive at the right herb for your body. All herbs have more than one action (or benefit ) associated with them. when choosing a herb as a sleep aid its smart to have a look at other properties of the herb and see if there is a match between your other health requirement and what herb is known to help with as a " secondary action ". As examples lets have a look at Red cover and few other herbs :
Red Clover : This herb has been used as a gentle sleep aid. It has an earthy taste and its easy to drink. It also known to help with skin issues and hot flashes as menopause symptoms . So if you suffer from skin issues or hot flashes as well as lack of sleep then Red Clover can be a good herb to start with.
Chamomile : Almost everybody is familiar with this herb. Its aromatic and gentle, easy to drink hence popular as a sleep aid. Its bit stronger than Red clover and known to help with relaxation, indigestion, IBS, stomach aches and cramps.
Peppermint : Another gentle sleep aid however it also known to help with indigestion, stomach aches and cramps as well. Also its highly recommended as an after meal tea of any red meat dish.
Hops : Its used for making beer. Highly nutritional and known as a cooling herb in traditional medicine to ease the symptoms of hot flashes during menopause. Tastes a bit bitter but it can be used as a gentle sleep aid specially if you are going through menopause.
Lavender : As you know its very aromatic and used for so many conditions. If you are growing your own lavender, make sure its an edible species before using it for your herbal tea. A word of caution : More than one or two cups of lavender tea per day can put you in an overdose which can have some side effects . It’s a very rich herb so you don’t need a lot of it for your tea, even half of a tea spoon can be plenty for most people.
Passion flower : A bit stronger than lavender and since it’s a bit bitter some people may not like it as much as lavender. however it’s known as a potent sleep aid and also if you are experiencing menopausal symptoms it may help you with the emotional and anxiety issues related to menopause.
Skullcap : Stronger than any other herbs that we have discussed so far and tastes a bit bitter. Apart from sleep aid, it's been used by herbalists for conditions such as depression, stress, epilepsy and anxiety.
Bitter herbs can be challenging to drink as a tea however by adding a pinch of Oat straw or Lemon balm or Rose buds you can turn them to a more pleasant tea. Also you can add a drop of edible essential oils to make them even more exciting and palatable.
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