• Herbal Farmwife

How Many Sheep Are You Counting At Night?

Are You Counting Sheep At Night? Insomnia

Are you having a hard time getting to sleep? Staying asleep? Waking up too early and unable to get back to sleep? Hey, we’ve all pulled “all nighters” for work or even fun. But when you can’t sleep when you want to sleep, you may have insomnia. As your mama probably told you numerous times, sleep is a basic human need that allows your physical and mental body to heal. Without sleep, your quality of life can decline. You may start having brain fog, daytime tiredness, fatigue, low energy, irritability, and performance or productivity issues during the daytime.

Although insomnia seems very common these days, it is very complicated. According to the Mayo Clinic, insomnia is a common sleep disorder that can make it difficult to fall asleep (sleep-onset insomnia), tough to stay asleep (sleep-maintenance insomnia), or waking up too early (late insomnia). You may feel lethargic or tired even when you wake up (non-restorative sleep). The key here is that you have the time and the desire to sleep, but something is not allowing you to sleep.

Although sleep varies from person to person, most adults need anywhere from seven to eight hours a sleep at night. The National Institutes of Health estimates that roughly 30% of the general population complains of sleep disruption with 10% have symptoms impacting their day to day activities. If you are struggling with the quality of your sleep, you are not alone.


Insomnia can be caused by an abundance of issues including:

  1. Aging (Changes in sleep patterns, medication, activity, health, etc.)

  2. Caffeine, nicotine and alcohol

  3. Changes to sleep environment

  4. Eating too much late in the evening

  5. Emotional or mental health disorders

  6. Life event or circumstances

  7. Medical illness

  8. Poor sleep habits

  9. Natural and/or prescription medicine

  10. Sleep-related disorders

  11. Stress

  12. Travel (Jet lag)

  13. Work schedule

Depending on the duration, insomnia may be categorized as either “acute” or “chronic.” Acute insomnia is very short and is caused more from life circumstances (aka a big test, bad news, or stress.) It can last a few days or even weeks. This type of sleep disruption usually passes when the cause changes and tends to resolve itself without any treatment.

Chronic insomnia may last for a month or more. The National Sleep Foundation states chronic insomnia is disrupted sleep that occurs at least three nights per week and lasts at least three months. Chronic insomnia suffers tend to benefit from some form of treatment or help to get back to healthy sleep.

Herbs and Spices Traditionally Used For Insomnia

While there is a multiple number of over the counter sleep aids and prescription medicines available for insomnia, some people like to try sedative-type of herbs to naturally help get them back to sleep. Natural alternative medicines derived from herbs and spices may be an option especially if one’s body does not process synthetic medicine well.

  1. German Chamomile: German Chamomile is best known for its “calming” and “relaxing” abilities. In alternative medicine, German Chamomile is used for its sedating activity for insomnia. Although scientific research on humans is limited on its ability to treat insomnia in humans, one clinical study suggests that taking German Chamomile extract 220-1100 mg daily for eight weeks significantly reduces anxiety causing insomnia. Like Valerian, there is some concern about drug interactions for patients who use German Chamomile. If you have a ragweed or similar allergies, you may have an allergic reaction to German Chamomile. German Chamomile is often used in tea form before bedtime.

  2. Hops: Many Native American tribes used Hops to treat pain and insomnia. Alternative medicine now uses Hops to treat anxiety, insomnia, restlessness, tension, nervousness, and irritability. It is valued for its soothing sedative effects. Multiple research studies show Hops effectiveness on insomnia when taken with other natural medicines like Valerian or Passionflower. But, there is limited research of its effectiveness against insomnia when used alone. Hops can increase hormonal activity and should be used with caution. Hops are available in tea, capsules, and tincture forms.

  3. Kava: Originating from the South Pacific Islands, Kava was used medicinally for relieving nervous tension and elevating mood. Taken in larger quantities, Kava was used as a sedative to induce sleep and was taken as a cure for insomnia. In today’s alternative medicine, it is used to help reduce tension and anxiety especially with menopause and PMS. Although clinical research is unsure where Kava derives its sedative effect, the science community finds no strong evidence that it has direct aid in insomnia. Since Kava has been linked with hepatotoxicity in some, it is considered unsafe to use for long-term. If you have liver problems, use alcohol, or take prescription medicine, please make sure to consult a healthcare practitioner first before using. Kava is available in tea, capsules, and extracts.

  4. Lemon Balm: Used for tension, anxiety, and poor sleep in the Middle Ages and Renaissance eras, Lemon Balm is known for its therapeutic uses. This minty herb is irresistible even to the honey bee. Used alone or with other herbal remedies, clinical studies have shown its effectiveness with insomnia. One clinical research study showed taking a lemon balm extract twice daily for 15 days reduced insomnia by 42% in patients with sleep disorders. Lemon Balm can be used in a variety of methods including tea, capsules, tinctures, extracts, and even lip ointment.

  5. Passionflower: Interestingly, the Spanish conquistadores learned from the Central America’s Aztecs of the ability of Passionflower to treat insomnia. Since then, Passionflower used to be marketed as an over-the-counter sleep aid and now is considered a dietary supplement in the United States. Passionflower is one of the “calming” herbs that provide a soothing effect on the nervous system. Preliminary clinical research suggests that drinking one cup of Passionflower tea an hour before going to bed improves measures of sleep quality. Like other herbal medicine for sleep, it is not recommended to use Passionflower for long-term use. It may interact with certain prescription medicine. Passionflower can be used in infusions, capsules, and tinctures.

  6. Skullcap: In American folk medicine, Skullcap was used as a sedative and nerve tonic. Bridging out from Native American usage, Skullcap’s popularity continued as a favorite herbal remedy for nervous tension, insomnia, and even serious mental illnesses well into the early 1900s. Since then, today’s herbalist tend to use it as a mild relaxant for treating insomnia. Preliminary clinical research shows that healthy people who take a single dose of freeze-dried skullcap extract might feel more relaxed than tense. Skullcap has not been extensively researched for insomnia benefits. Skullcap is traditionally used in capsule, tincture, and tea forms.

  7. Valerian: Valerian is one of the most popular and most studied natural medicines used for insomnia because of its sedative and tranquilizing properties. It is widely used in Europe for its therapeutic uses for nervousness, insomnia, and anxiety. When combining statistical data from multiple research studies, it shows that taking valerian significantly increases the chance of having improved sleep quality by 37% to 80% compared to placebo. Taking valerian also seems to decrease time to sleep onset by 14-17 minutes compared to placebo. It may take several nights to a few weeks may be needed for it to work. Valerian seems to be safe when used short-term for “acute” insomnia. It's usually well tolerated; but caution is issued for long-term use. There is some concern about drug interactions for patients taking valerian so always check with a healthcare practitioner first before trying any new natural medicine.

If you are considering taking any new herbs and spices, it is better to start with taking one herb at a time than to start taking multiple herbs all at the same time. This will give you the ability to see how your body reacts to each herb. Taking only one herb or spice is extremely important especially when considering taking sedative herbs and spices.

With any herbs or spices that you may consider digesting or using for medicinal purposes, please consult a healthcare practitioner FIRST before adding anything new to your health regime. Depending on your current diet, nutritional support, and prescription medicine, you could have interactions or adverse reactions to other herbs and spices along with prescription medicine. In addition, long-term use many not be recommended. It is better to check first with a medical healthcare practitioner first before beginning something new. If you are pregnant or nursing, please DO NOT take herbs and spices for medicinal purposes.

Blessings, Herbal Farmwife

For additional “Do It Yourself” natural remedies using herbs, spices, vitamins, minerals, and healing foods, please visit

#herbalfarmwife #Herbs #Spices #Herbsandspices #Insomnia #sleepdeprived #sleepless #GermanChamomile #Hops #Kava #LemonBalm #Passionflower #Skullcap #Valerian

DISCLAIMER: HERBALFARMWIFE.COM DOES NOT PROVIDE ANY MEDICAL ADVICE. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, you should immediately contact your health care provider. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking professional advice because of something you have read on The Herbal Farmwife is not a licensed medical doctor or other formally licensed healthcare professional, practitioner or provider of any kind. does not render medical advice or treatment, nor does it provide or prescribe any medical diagnosis, treatment, medication, or remedy. Information on or associated social media sites should not be considered to be healthcare advice, medical diagnosis, or treatment. None of the information on should be considered a promise of benefits, a claim of cures, a legal warranty, or a guarantee of results to be achieved. This information is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other healthcare professionals, or any notifications or instructions contained in or on any product label or packaging. You should not use this information for diagnosis or treatment of any health problem or for prescription of any medication or other treatment. You should always speak with your physician or other healthcare professional before taking any medication or nutritional or herbal supplement or adopting any treatment for a health problem. The information provided on and accessible from is not guaranteed to be correct, complete, or up-to-date. The and any associated social media pages are not intended to create a client relationship. Herbs and spices in medicinal doses may cause adverse reactions when used with other herbs and spices or prescription medicines. Always consult a healthcare professional first before trying any herbs, spices, vitamins, or minerals referenced on This information is merely a discussion of “thoughts” among friends. Please note that none of these statements have been evaluated by the USA’s Food and Drug Administration. Please do not take any herbs and spices in medicinal doses if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.




  3. American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Fifth Edition (DSM-5). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing, 2013.

  4. Amsterdam JD, Li Y, Soeller I, et al. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of oral Matricaria recutita (chamomile) extract therapy for generalized anxiety disorder. J Clin Psychopharmacol. 2009;29(4):378-382

  5. Balderer G, Borbély AA. Effect of valerian on human sleep. Psychopharmacology (Berl) 1985;87:406-9.

  6. Barton DL, Atherton PJ, Bauer BA, et al. The use of Valeriana officinalis (Valerian) in improving sleep in patients who are undergoing treatment for cancer: a phase III randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study (NCCTG Trial, N01C5). J Support Oncol 2011;9:24-31.

  7. Baum SS, Hill R, Rommelspacher H. Effect of kava extract and individual kavapyrones on neurotransmitter levels in the nucleus accumbens of rats. Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry 1998;22:1105-20.

  8. Belsomra (suvorexant) [package insert]. Whitehouse Station, NJ: Merck & Co., Inc; 2014.

  9. Bent S, Padula A, Moore D, et al. Valerian for sleep: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Med 2006;119:1005-12.

  10. Bent S, Padula A, Moore D, et al. Valerian for sleep: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Med 2006;119:1005-12.

  11. Bent S, Patterson M, Garvin D. Valerian for sleep: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Alternative Therapies 2001;7:S4.

  12. Bilia AR, Gallori S, Vincieri FF. Kava-kava and anxiety: growing knowledge about the efficacy and safety. Life Sci 2002;70:2581-97.

  13. Boonen G, Pramanik A, Rigler R, Haberlein H. Evidence for specific interactions between kava in and human cortical neurons monitored by fluorescence correlation spectroscopy. Planta Med 2000;66:7-10.

  14. Cairney S, Maruff P, Clough AR, et al. Saccade and cognitive impairment associated with kava intoxication. Hum Psychopharmacol 2003;18:525-33.

  15. Cases J. Leaf extract in the treatment of volunteers suffering from mild-to-moderate anxiety disorders and sleep disturbances. Mediterr J Nutr Metab. 2010;4(3):211-218.

  16. Cerny A, Shmid K. Tolerability and efficacy of valerian/lemon balm in healthy volunteers (a double blind, placebo-controlled, multicentre study). Fitoterapia 1999;70:221-8.

  17. Consultation letter MLX 286: Proposals to prohibit the herbal ingredient Kava-Kava (Piper methysticum) in unlicensed medicines. Medicines Control Agency, United Kingdom, July 19, 2002.

  18. Cornu, C., Remontet, L., Noel-Baron, F., Nicolas, A., Feugier-Favier, N., Roy, P., Claustrat, B., Saadatian-Elahi, M., and Kassai, B. A dietary supplement to improve the quality of sleep: a randomized placebo controlled trial. BMC.Complement Altern Med 2010;10:29.

  19. Cuellar NG, Ratcliffe SJ. Does valerian improve sleepiness and symptom severity in people with restless legs syndrome? Altern Ther Health Med 2009;15:22-8.

  20. Dauvilliers Y, Morin C, Cervena K, et al. Family studies in insomnia. J Psychosomat Res 2005;58(2005):271-78.

  21. Dimpfel W, Suter A. Sleep improving effects of a single dose administration of a valerian/hops fluid extract - a double blind, randomized, placebo-controlled sleep-EEG study in a parallel design using electrohypnograms. Eur J Med Res 2008;13:200-4.

  22. Donath F, Quispe S, Diefenbach K, et al. Critical evaluation of the effect of valerian extract on sleep structure and sleep quality. Pharmacopsychiatry 2000;33:47-53.

  23. Donovan JL, DeVane CL, Chavin KD, et al. Multiple night-time doses of valerian (Valeriana officinalis) had minimal effects on CYP3A4 activity and no effect on CYP2D6 activity in healthy volunteers. Drug Metab Dispos 2004;32:1333-6.

  24. Escher M, Desmeules J, Giostra E, Mentha G. Hepatitis associated with Kava, a herbal remedy for anxiety. BMJ 2001;322:139.

  25. Fernández-San-Martín MI, Masa-Font R, Palacios-Soler L, et al. Effectiveness of Valerian on insomnia: a meta-analysis of randomized placebo-controlled trials. Sleep Med. 2010 Jun;11:505-11.

  26. Garges HP, Varia I, Doraiswamy PM. Cardiac complications and delirium associated with Valerian root withdrawal. [Letter to the Editor]. JAMA 1998;280:1566-7.

  27. Gow PJ, Connelly NJ, Hill RL, et al. Fatal fulminant hepatic failure induced by a natural therapy containing kava. Med J Aust 2003;178:442-3.

  28. Gurley BJ, Gardner SF, Hubbard MA, et al. In vivo effects of goldenseal, kava kava, black cohosh, and valerian on human cytochrome P450 1A2, 2D6, 2E1, and 3A4/5 phenotypes. Clin Pharmacol Ther 2005;77:415-26.

  29. Guthrie SK, Bostwick JR. Anxiety disorders. In: Alldredge BK, Corelli RL, Ernst ME, et al, editors. Koda-Kimble & Young's Applied Therapeutics: the Clinical Use of Drugs. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2013:1863-99.

  30. Houghton PJ. The scientific basis for the reputed activity of Valerian. J Pharm Pharmacol 1999;51:505-12.

  31. Klepser TB, Klepser ME. Unsafe and potentially safe herbal therapies. Am J Health Syst Pharm 1999;56:125-38.

  32. Koetter U, Schrader E, Käufeler R, et al. A randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled, prospective clinical study to demonstrate clinical efficacy of a fixed valerian hops extract combination (Ze 91019) in patients suffering from non-organic sleep disorder. Phytother Res 2007;21:847-51.

  33. Lacher SK, Mayer R, Sichardt K, et al. Interaction of valerian extracts of different polarity with adenosine receptors: identification of isovaltrate as an inverse agonist at A1 receptors. Biochem Pharmacol 2007;73(2):248-58.

  34. Leathwood PD, Chauffard F, Heck E, Munoz-Box R. Aqueous extract of valerian root (Valeriana officinalis L.) improves sleep quality in man. Pharmacol Biochem Behav 1982;17:65-71.

  35. Leathwood PD, Chauffard F. Aqueous extract of valerian reduces latency to fall asleep in man. Planta Med 1985;2:144-8.

  36. Lefebvre T, Foster BC, Drouin CE, et al. In vitro activity of commercial valerian root extracts against human cytochrome P450 3A4. J Pharm Pharmaceut Sci 2004;7:265-73.

  37. Lehrl S. Clinical efficacy of kava extract WS 1490 in sleep disturbances associated with anxiety disorders. Results of a multicenter, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind clinical trial. J Affect Disord 2004;78:101-10.

  38. Lichstein KL, Wilson NM, Johnson CT. Psychological treatment of secondary insomnia. Psychol Aging 2000;15(2):232-40.

  39. Liver Toxicity With Kava. Pharmacist's Letter/Prescriber's Letter. January 2001.

  40. MacGregor FB, Abernethy VE, Dahabra S, et al. Hepatotoxicity of herbal remedies. BMJ 1989;299:1156-7.

  41. Maroo N, Hazra A, Das T. Efficacy and safety of a polyherbal sedative-hypnotic formulation NSF-3 in primary insomnia in comparison to zolpidem: a randomized controlled trial. Indian J Pharmacol 2013;45(1):34-9

  42. McGuffin M, Hobbs C, Upton R, Goldberg A, eds. American Herbal Products Association's Botanical Safety Handbook. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, LLC 1997.

  43. Meseguer E, Taboada R, Sanchez V, et al. Life-threatening parkinsonism induced by kava-kava. Mov Disord 2002;17:195-6.

  44. Morin CM, Koetter U, Bastien C, et al. Valerian-hops combination and diphenhydramine for treating insomnia: a randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial. Sleep 2005;28:1465-71. Jacobs BP, Bent S, Tice JA, et al. An internet-based randomized, placebo-controlled trial of kava and valerian for anxiety and insomnia. Medicine (Baltimore) 2005;84:197-207.

  45. Muller SF, Klement S. A combination of valerian and lemon balm is effective in the treatment of restlessness and dyssomnia in children. Phytomedicine 2006;13:383-7.

  46. Newall CA, Anderson LA, Philpson JD. Herbal Medicine: A Guide for Healthcare Professionals. London, UK: The Pharmaceutical Press, 1996.

  47. Ngan A, Conduit R. A double-blind, placebo-controlled investigation of the effects of Passiflora incarnata (Passionflower) herbal tea on subjective sleep quality. Phytother Res 2011;25:1153-9.

  48. Nickelsen T, Lang A, Bergau L. The effect of 6-, 9- and 11-hour time shifts on circadian rhythms: adaptation of sleep parameters and hormonal patterns following the intake of melatonin or placebo. Adv Pineal Res 1991;5:303-6.

  49. Oxman AD, Flottorp S, Håvelsrud K, et al. A televised, web-based randomised trial of an herbal remedy (valerian) for insomnia. PLoS One 2007 Oct 17;2:e1040.

  50. Pizzorno JE, Murray MT, eds. Textbook of Natural Medicine. 2nd ed. Edinburgh:Churchill Livingstone, 1999.

  51. Rostler S. More studies should target health effects of sleep herbs. Reuters Health, June 15, 2000.

  52. Rozerem (ramelteon) [package insert]. Deerfield, IL: Takeda Pharmaceuticals America, Inc; 2010.

  53. Russmann S, Lauterburg BH, Helbling A. Kava hepatotoxicity [letter]. Ann Intern Med 2001;135:68-9.

  54. Schelosky L, Raffaup C, Jendroska K, Poewe W. Kava and dopamine antagonism. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 1995;58:639-40.

  55. Seitz U, Schule A, Gleitz J. [3H]-monoamine uptake inhibititon properties of kava pyrones. Planta Med 1997;63:548-549..

  56. Stevinson C, Ernst E. Valerian for insomnia: a systematic review of randomized clinical trials. Sleep Med 2000;1:91-9.

  57. Subiza J, Subiza JL, Hinojosa M, et al. Anaphylactic reaction after the ingestion of chamomile tea; a study of cross-reactivity with other composite pollens. J Allergy Clin Immunol 1989;84:353-8.

  58. Taibi DM, Bourguignon C, Gill Taylor A. A feasibility study of valerian extract for sleep disturbance in person with arthritis. Biol Res Nurs 2009;10:409-17.

  59. Vissiennon Z, Sichardt K, Koetter U, et al. Valerian extract Ze 911 inhibits postsynaptic potentials by activation of adenosine A1 receptors in rat cortical neurons. Planta Med 2006;72(7):579-83.

  60. Wincor MZ, Cyr M. Sleep disorders. In: Herfindal ET, Gourley DR (eds). Textbook of Therapeutics: Drug and Disease Management. 6th edition. Baltimore, MD: Williams & Wilkins, 1996.

  61. Wolfson P, Hoffmann DL. An investigation into the efficacy of Scutellaria lateriflora in healthy volunteers. Altern Ther Health Med 2003;9:74-8

  62. Yuan CS, Mehendale S, Xiao Y, et al. The gamma-aminobutyric acidergic effects of valerian and valerenic acid on rat brainstem neuronal activity. Anesth Analg 2004;98:353-8.

  63. Zick SM, Wright BD, Sen A, Arnedt JT. Preliminary examination of the efficacy and safety of a standardized chamomile extract for chronic primary insomnia: a randomized placebo-controlled pilot study. BMC Complement Altern Med 2011;11:78.

#HerbalFarmwife #Herbs #Spices #Insomnia #SleepDeprived #Sleepless #GermanChamomile #Hops #LemonBalm #Kava #PassionFlower #Skullcap #Valerian