Herbal infusions have been drunk throughout the centuries – both for their medicinal and culinary properties – after all, our common ol’ cuppa (the black tea which came over from the Far East) is just a herb infused in water. Herbal infusions can consist of just one herb, or can be blended with a number of different herbs to produce a range of tantalising tastes.

Insomnia can be naturally relieved with herbal teas, infusions and baths. Professional herbalists do not prescribe herbs simply to treat symptoms such as insomnia but aim to correct the imbalances within the body that cause those symptoms. For example, sedative herbs such as hops and valerian are used to relax the nervous system to that you enjoy natural, restorative sleep. Each herb contains a variety of active constituents and has a main action and several subsidiary actions which determine the conditions for which it is most appropriate.

How to make a Herbal Tea

To make your own delicious cup of herbal tea simply place a teaspoon of dried herb (or herbs if you’re using a blend of herbs) into a tea-pot, caffetiere, or suitable loose-tea holder and pour on freshly boiled water. Infuse covered for 5 mins or so [roots and tough herbs may need to infuse for longer, strain and serve. If you’re making herbal tea for more than one person, add more dried herb just as you would with loose tea or tea-bags. For medicinal brews you may need to double the amount of herb and leave to infuse for longer – generally at least 5 – 10 minutes.

There are number of ways you can sweeten your herbal tea – why not try honey or maple syrup instead of sugar; or a shot of apple juice; dried orange or lemon peel; a bruised clove [particularly effective when a cold or sore throat threatens – cloves are wonderfully antiseptic] or add a cinnamon or liquorice stick.

Not all herbs lend themselves to teas – Feverfew is so strong it is not suitable for infusions – whilst others, although suitable, should only be consumed in small quantities, such as Yarrow. Others, like Chamomile, can be safely consumed in quantities of 5 or 6 cups a day. Obviously poisonous herbs should be avoided completely, and your health condition and any medications you are on should be taken into account – Rosemary and Sage, for example, should not be taken by epileptics, persons suffering from high blood-pressure, or during pregnancy or breast-feeding; Valerian root should not be combined with sleep-inducing medicines; and Hops should be avoided by anyone suffering from depression. Always check up on any herb you’re thinking of using, if in doubt ask your doctor or health professional – and remember that even the safest herbs should, like most things in life, be taken in moderation.

Herbal Teas that would help you manage your insomnia

Calm tea: A relaxing blend of Chamomile Flower, Peppermint Leaf, Catnip Leaf, Strawberry Leaf, Linden Leaf and Flowers, Passion Flower Herb, Skullcap, Licorice Root and Valerian Root will help you reduce stress. This combination also reduces mucous and muscle cramps.

Digestive Tea: A combination of soothing herbs like Peppermint, Papaya Leaf, Hibiscus, Mint helps digestion and is good for heartburn, indigestion, circulatory problems, and nausea. The blend specially helps for gas, diarrhea and ulcers. Improving your digestive system by taking this tea will help reduce stress and therefore control the insomniac symptom.

Sleepy Tea: A combination of Valerian root and Chamomile flowers is the right combination for relaxing moments before bed. It helps in relieving stress and anxiety, indigestion, and insomnia.

Numerous plants have sedative action. Plants commonly prescribed as aids in promoting sleep include: passionflower (Passiflora incarnata), hops (Humulus lupulus), valerian (Valeriana officinalis), skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora), and chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla).

Herbal Bath

Herbal baths are a pleasant way to use herbs for the alleviation of steeping difficulties. The relaxing and warming effect of the hot water enhances the sedative properties of the herbs. Herbal baths can be used with herbal infusions. Add a liter of strained herbal infusion or decoction (left to brew for 30 minutes) to your bath water or tie a handful of herbs in a muslin bag and hang it from the hot-water tap so that the water runs through it.

The heat of the water releases the fragrance and activates the properties of the herbs, while opening the pores of your skin. The inhaled scent passes through the nervous system to the brain, while the properties absorbed through the skin pass into the bloodstream. The result benefits for both mind and body.

  1. Fill a muslin bag with chamomile, linden flowers, or lavender, and hang it from the faucet so that the hot water runs through it.
  2. Massage with oil and herbal baths before retiring to calm and relax the body. Add lavender, fir needle, yarrow or valerian infusion to bath water.
  3. Pour one liter (two pints) of boiling water over two handfuls of the dried root of valerian and leave it for twenty-five minutes. Strain liquid and add to bath. Take bathe before going to bed.

Sources: Holistic On line, Gaias Garden

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