Sleeping herbs. Part II: chamomile, lemon balm, passionflower.

The previous part of this article was dedicated valerian, pointing to the benefits from supplementing this plant in cases of sleep disruptions. The root of valerian is not the only plant which facilitates falling asleep and deepens the sleep itself. There are more herbs which can be useful - in this paper I'd like to focus on the three I consider the most important.

Popular chamomile can aid getting a good night's sleep. Scientific research has shown that it has a mild anxiolytic effect. Both chamomile tea and extracts, taken as a supplement can help unwinding and help create a relaxing environment. The apigenin in the plant have a toning effect on the nervous system, which can be particularly important in case of a high-stress lifestyle.

Passionflower (passiflora incarnata) also has a beneficial effect on the quality of sleep. In the beginning there were many controversies concerning its hypnotic qualities (both in the form of tea and extracts) because there weren't any research conducted on humans. Nevertheless, lately there have been published some results of a clinical study (Ngan, Conduit) in which drinking passionflower tea visibly enhanced the quality of sleep in the participants.

It's no surprise lemon balm (melissa officinalis) will be included in this paper. This herb, taken as a tea or extract has an anxiolytic and hypnotic effect. This effect can be observed after a prolonged time of regular use. The issue, though, is the quality of the herbal 'teas' available on the market and some supplements. There are voices that the desired active ingredients are scarce, and thus - there is no use in supplementation. The best way to go would be growing and drinking your own lemon balm, but there are few people who can afford that luxury nowadays.

While - of course – the three of the aforementioned plants do not conclude a full list of herbal sleep remedies there are studies confirming their medicinal effect and they're fairly safe to use. I have omitted hop in this paper - although it does exhibit a calming effect, it also has a potential to increase the production of estrogen, making it an undesirable supplement for the male readers.

What you need to keep in mind is that herbs are not toys, which can be ingested in unlimited quantities and to no consequences. Using herbal medicines should stem from actual need. Some of the substances from the herbs, while not hazardous on their own, can interact with the chemical compounds from e.g. other medicine, and change its effects. Therefore, if you experience difficulties sleeping you should find the cause and try to eliminate the root of the issue.