If you’ve ever experienced sleepless nights…you understand the extreme frustration that insomnia creates.
The plague of sleeplessness has crossed time and cultures — and throughout it all, there have been several all-natural remedies created based on herbs known to help induce a restorative sleep.
So in classic fashion, with my knowledge of the adaptogenic and sedative class of herbs, I undertook the challenge of creating herbal sleep-aids that would rival any of the prescription strength sleep-aids available.
In my experience, there have been three extremely powerful natural remedies that have transformed the way I — and my family – sleep. And those have been:
- Herbal Bedtime Tea
- Valerian and Hops Tincture
- Herbal Pain Relief and Sleep Capsules
With the growing number of people in the United States without health insurance — coupled with the rising cost of prescription medicine — all to often those who suffer from insomnia are forced to pay extremely high costs for sleep-aids.
Moreover, the harmful side effects and addictive potential of prescription sleep-aids presents a whole other set of issues.
How Sedative Herbs Work
According to Philip Fritchey, in his book Practical Herbalism: Ordinary Plants with Extraordinary Powers, the class of “sedative herbs” falls under the herbal action of Nervines.
And he has this to say of Nervines:
“Nervines are herbs that support the health of the nervous system.
They are used to relieve pain and regulate the nerve response.”
He also mentions that “the nervous system is the primary communication pathway in the body. [And that] virtually every disorder has some root in this system. Stress, anxiety, fatigue, poor nutrition, and disordered lifestyles take a toll on the integrity of the system.”
Likewise, we also know that the adaptogenic class of herbs helps by increasing resistance and resilience to stress and they enable the body to avoid reaching functional collapse. Read more about adaptogenic herbs for stress relief here…
When combined, sedative and adaptogenic herbs work together to:
- help you fall asleep faster.
- improve the overall quality of your sleep.
- provide a safer and more affordable alternative to risky prescription pills.
- relieve stress, reduce anxiety, calm the mind, and eliminate toxins that may be disrupting your body’s natural sleep cycle.
- help you wake up feeling refreshed and energized instead of tired and groggy.
A Recipe for All Natural Pain and Sleeping Pills
–The Capsule Machine (optional)
-”00″ gelatin or vegetable capsules
*Purchase organically-grown or wild-crafted herbs whenever possible. Starwest Botanicals has a beautiful selection of Bulk Herbs and Natural Products for Healthy, Natural Living.
-2 parts valerian root, powdered
-2 parts skullcap, powdered
-1 part lemon balm, powdered
-1 part oatstraw, powdered
-1 part passion flower, powdered
-1/2 part rhodiola root, powdered
-1/4 part hop flowers, powdered
*Parts are to be measured by volume not weight.
1. In a non-reactive bowl, mix all of the herbal powders together until well combined.
2. With the use of The Capsule Machine, fill as many capsules as you think your family will use within a 6-12 month period. Note: Don’t have a Capsule Machine? It’s okay…simply scoop the powder into each piece of the capsule and pack it tight prior to recapping the ends.
3. Store the capsules in a small glass mason jar and place the lid on tight. Keep in a cool, dark, dry place. These capsules should stay fresh for 6-12 months.
Click here to read more about making your own homemade herbal capsules…
To use for acute pain: Take 1-2 caps every 2 hrs., but no more than 8 caps daily.
To use for chronic pain: Take 2-3 caps 2-3 times daily, but no more than 6 caps daily.
To use for sleep: Take 2-4 caps 30 minutes prior to bedtime. (I discovered that 3 capsules sent me to sleep pretty quickly.)
Where Can I Get This Stuff?
–Starwest Botanicals…they have everything you’ll need by way of Bulk Herbs and Natural Products for Healthy, Natural Living! It’s your one-stop-shop!
–The Bulk Herb Store also carries many of these ingredients if you’d like to price check.
Sustain, Create and Flow says
Thanks for sharing this recipe. I think I will try to make some of these for my husband. He could really use them!
Sustain, Create and Flow says
I was also wondering… Are the herbs measure by volume and not weight because each herb has a different weight? Even when powdered?
That is exactly what I was wondering, along with the ‘how do you powder them.
Brenda Brodmerkle says
By volume because each powders differently and weights differently. You can powder them in a little coffee grinder. Or buy them powdered. Most health food stores should have both.
Sustain, Create and Flow says
I’m new at the great world of herbs. I always enjoy reading your blog. I’ve not tried any of them until you posted the one on sleeping. I do have trouble there. In trying to buy from Mountain Rose Herbs. I can’t seem to find some of the herbs in powder form. Do you make the herbs into powder yourself? Thank you for your blog and your time in answering this mail….Molly
Trish F says
Mountain Rose Herbs does sell their herbs in powdered form. Just check the description and it will let you know if it is powdered or cut (sm pieces). I wouldn’t recommend trying to powder them yourself the end result is inconsistant. (I know, I’ve tried)
Sara R. says
I adore this idea. My husband suffers from constant back pain (courtesy of modern medicine, as a matter of fact…) and he doesn’t like taking toxic chemical medications. This is something I will be implementing. I am curious, since the caps are intended to help with sleep as well as pain, do the make you drowsy during the day? I have taken Valerian and didn’t have any issues with it, but I was concerned because my husband is an electrician and needs to be alert.
Thank you for what you do!!!
Sherry Krinate says
I can’t speak for the nice lady who rungs this blog but I am an herbalist and valerian is a muscle relaxant that is often to help with sleep. It might make him drowsy so I’d not use it before going to work until you know how it affects him. The hops will also induce a sleepy state.
Valerian can also be addictive in everything I have studied. Too much can cause excitability and have the reverse effects desired. Don’t over do the dosage and don’t use for long periods of time without breaks in between. It works better when you don’t over do it. (As with anything!) The Lemon Balm also helps the stomach for digestive problems and Valerian is noted for gas stress. Both do relax the muscle tissue in the digestive area. (Note – the Valerian smells like BAD socks)!
Shannon R says
Cary E. says
My question is if a person takes these for pain throughout the day, aren’t they going to want to sleep all day? I have been enjoying your emails and on Facebook. So many wonderful ideas……Cary
Sherry Krin says
I would think it depends on the person and how often they take these. In my own case it would indeed knock me out but others may react differently. I’m not a major fan of herbs in capsules as I was trained in the English Tradition and well, as my teacher always said of capsules “We are not cows and do not chew our cud”. She was a fanatic about using a tisane (tea) but anyone who has tried to drink a valerian tisane will tell you, “It smells like old, dirty socks and tastes worse” so in this case, I’m for the capsules. Hops is another one I am not fond of in a tisane.
E. Stone says
I agree with you. I actually tried one the other night and it did knock me out, HOWEVER, ……
I woke up with a horrid, raging migraine that only intensified as the day wore on. Also, my stomach was very upset. I do believe it was caused by ingesting the herbs in capsules. This is NOT a derogatory slam against Andrea or her shop. I love her products and she is very knowledgable in her products. This could have just affected me poorly. I think I will make these into a tincture or tea perhaps?
You might be sensitive to one or more of the ingredients. Flax seed and flax seed oil are popular in many health foods but I can’t tolerate it AT ALL. It comes back up almost as fast as it goes down. I even had a naturepath test me and confirm that it’s not good for me. The only thing that tested worse was tobacco. So, healthy and natural ingredients aren’t necessarily all safe for everyone. I’d recommend trying each of the ingredients separately to determine whether you’re sensitive to one before giving up entirely on the combination.
Allison Hawkes says
Valerian is in the same family as chamomile and ragweed, so it could have been an allergic reaction to it or one of the other herbal plants. I tried an otc product that had valerian in it and had a major asthma attack that was quite scary.
So, word of warning, natural isn’t always safe for everyone.
Ok, Taking the same med for pain and the same to help you sleep.?
I know there is are warnings for OTC meds that say may cause drowsiness but this is bs.
I am all for this but do take the same med for both in the same dose. come on..
I would expect a different type for pain and a different type to help me sleep.
Linda P-C says
Would keeping the capsules in the refrigerator be recommended?
Shannon R says
No. light, heat and moisture are to be kept away from herbs to keep them fresh. It’s too humid in the fridge. keep in amber (or dark taped or painted) jars in the back of the pantry.
Leigh Butler says
I am 14 weeks pregnant. I suffer from lupus, RA, fibromyalga, and several other ailments. I am not able to take any pain meds for the chronic pain I suffer daily with these seperately and combined. My questions is are these herbs safe to take while pregnant? I know valerian is a no no because it is a strong relaxant, but what about the rest? Thank you for time.
You hurt…..I am sorry. But do not take anything…anything but a warm (not hot) bath and pray that nine months go by quickly. Blessings to you.
From someone who did it….26 years ago.
You might try massage. There is a different technique for fibro but if you can find anyone who can do it, it is a lifesaver!! When my fibro kicks in, the massage helps more than anything! It’s a very small stretch about 1″ all over the area. Hurts a little when it’s being done, but got rid of the pain in me for about 5 days! Wonderful!!
Gayle Spears says
Leigh, if you eliminate the nightshades from your diet that should bring a lot of relief… also vitamin C and plenty of pure water.
Aaahhhh, where is the pin it button??
Jamie Bee says
Thanks for posting this! Good to know. Pinning it now.
Is there a way to make it just for pain with no sleep aide??
I’d like to make a suggestion for a very fast & easy sleepy time tea.. It works 100% of the time on everyone and is safe enough to give to your children..
Simmer 1 tablespoons in 1 cup of water for aprox 15 minutes and let sit another 5 or 10. Strain, and add honey, lemon, or sugar to make it a little more palatable since Rosemary is one of the bitter herbs. Personally, I just add about a teaspoon of honey, maple syrup or sugar.
Jill's Home Remedies says
This is great! Pinning!
Thanks for the idea! My mom has been have sleep issues and looking for a solution so I will have to share this with her!
Kathleen Gumaer Richter says
You never mentioned where to get that plastic capsule device that you show in the photo and the beginning of this article.
Shannon R says
leavesandroots.com has them-$19
Heather M. says
I just came across this link and am curious about one thing. Does this help to regulate sleep cycles? I suffer from mild narcolepsy, which causes excessive daytime sleepiness. After much reading, I have come to believe that my nighttime sleep cycles are completely off balance, thus causing the problems during the day. Traditional meds. don’t work well for me, nor do I like the side effects. I have also tried taking a prescription med. to help with my sleep cycles; it worked , but again, the side effects were terrible. I am eager to find a solution.
Brenda Elliott says
Heather, have you tried melatonin to regulate your sleep pattern? I began taking it when I started working nights (years ago) and it doesn’t make you drowsy, so just take it about 30 min before you lie down to sleep. 5 mg is a good dose. Read up on it and see what you think.
Best of luck!
I too have Narcolepsy, what a pain! My sleep at night is horrible. It’s like a lot of mini naps, so of course, I’m exhausted when I wake up. I don’t take anything for sleep because I don’t like the side effects. I take prescription meds for daytime, but I don’t take it daily because of the side effects. I would love to have something for sleep. It would be wonderful to wake up refreshed and rested. I may have to try this.
This is great information! Will be trying this recipe for pain relief. We have been using Pau D’Arco tea.
I have Lupus & Fibromyalgia & I’m trying to cut down from the 22 pills I take daily. Do you know if any of these herbs are contra-indicated for me? Thanks, I love your site 🙂
Carene J. Williams. says
Hi, To all of the people suffering from very bad pain due mainly to Arthritis. Over the Easter Weekend, on my Facebook Page, there was an article , about HONEY AND CINNAMON. I have been injured twice now, in the last thirty years and, have been suffering from almost unendurable, constant, agonizing pain, due to these accidents, and I have even been contemplating ending my life, because of all these problems. Getting cut off my medical didn`t help at all, and not being able to get the pain killers etc. that I have been on. Anyway, almost at the end of my rope, I read the article about HONEY AND CINNAMON. It stated that taking two Tablespoons of honey in a cup of HOT water, with 1 tspn. of Cinnamon, ON AN EMPTY STOMACH, first thing in the morning has hepled 200 people in a survey of people suffering from Arthritis, within two weeks, with hardly ANY PAIN. I started it right away, taking just one Tlbspn. HONEY and one tspn. CINNAMON, every morning, before anything else, and I just cannot believe how it has helped me. Yesterday, when I woke up, I was able to have a magnificient STRETCH, something I haven`t been able to do for many years.and I can`t say, that yet, I am without pain, but it is helping so much. If you Google, Honey and Cinnamon, you will find lots of articles on this. Good Luck. aussienore
E. Stone says
My 18year old came home two weeks ago with a very bad cold. I gave him cinnamon and honey and by the end of the next day it was miraculously gone! There is definitely something to be said about honey and cinnamon! Plus it tastes good to boot! 🙂
I cured my crippling arthritis (caused by an injury to my back) in 1977. I cut out animal fats, preservatives (MSG, etc.) and dairy from my diet. I haven’t had arthritis since. My body was too acidic (animal fats, preservatives and dairy are highly acidic). When I became mostly alkaline a short time later, my body healed itself. Try it, what do you have to lose?
Laurie Ross says
The Herbal Healer Academy at http://www.herbalhealer.com is another source for all kinds of herbs and natural products. Check them out when you get the chance. They are a reputable company selling quality products. I buy their herbs for making 4-herb tea (essiac tea), which is an immune system booster and natural cure for cancer (go to the website and read the testimonials). I I do not have cancer, but use the tea for general health maintenance….have not been sick in years.
Laurie Ross says
@Pam…get the book “55 most commom medicinal herbs…the complete natural medicine guide” by Heather Boon BScPhm, PhD. and Michael Smith BPharm, MRPharmS, ND. It will tell you all about the herbs you are interested in as well as any contra-indications with prescription meds. For example: willow bark is a natural pain reliever, like aspirin, and also thins the blood like aspirin, so you wouldn’t want to use it if you are on prescription bloodthinners. Very good information, I refer to mine all the time.
Has anyone had issues with these keeping you awake? The first 2 times I tried it, I slept well. I tried again the following week and was awake by 3am tossing and turning. My husband had the same result. Anyone know which herb may have perked us up? Maybe I could remove that one next time.
My question is this…I have heard that you can not mix/take herbs with pharmaceutical prescriptions; can i take these plus my other medication? I also take depression meds(effexor), blood pressure, restless leg syndrome,and cholesterol meds. I have heard Dr.’s say yes you can and some say no you cant. Just wondering what your opinion was.
Please keep in mind that Valerian does NOT always work as a sedative in some people. Sometimes it affects people in the opposite way. I don’t take it anymore because it keeps me awake. Please check that out and let others know. All the other ingredients you suggest are wonderful.
I made these pills and they do keep me wide awake. I am going to try a batch without the valerian. Thanks.
I can’t take pills. Is there a tincture recipe?
Kathryn Arnold says
Every item I’ve tried containing valerian just tore my stomach up. Is this unusual?
I think this site is doing an injustice to some of it’s viewers. You don’t have any kind of statement that I could see to tell people that not everyone can mix certain herbs with their own meds. Before making any of these herbal meds people taking Coumadin for their heart problems or people on blood pressure pills need to check with their doctor before using these home made meds. They may be cheaper, but they may kill you.
Shannon R says
I love the idea of a capsule. I don’t “do” small cups of tea and who wants to get up and pee all night when i’m trying to sleep?
I have a question about the rhodiola. i understand that it’s a tiny amount compared to the rest of the ingredients but I’ve always used it for fatigue and energy (among other things-hubba hubba). I never would have thought to put this beautiful adaptogen in a sleep formula. can you discuss your feelings on this?
great information and appreciate the insightful comments
Anna-marie Duetsch says
LUV this site but wish you could post the interactions with prescriptions for those of us trying to “get clean” 🙂
I recently bought these for my son to use to try to get off the meds the VA has him on. I have also been picking up the herbs I don’t currently have growing or in my personal stash to make them. For myself, I fell asleep with only 2 capsules; it took him the 4 capsule dosage and he slept more soundly than he ever did with his prescription meds.
Oh Jeanne! That’s so awesome to hear! Thank you so much for commenting and being testament to the true power of these plants!
How well would this work without the hops? My girlfriend is allergic to hops but has bad insomnia and back pain…
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I am looking for an all natural way to treat and control Gout. My husband has been suffering for years, and is needing a change. I am done with the liver killing meds he is taking. Thanks for all your help.
Thank you so much for posting this recipe. I’m going to try it but am going to add 1 part Turmeric root powder. Turmeric has so many healing benefits, and pain reduction is one of them. I want to share a story with you, that is my personal experience. You know, we’re all raised to run to the Dr, get a prescription for this or that, run to a store and buy over the counter meds for other things, that we’ve forgotten how safe and how much more healthy using herbals is. Case in point is a personal experience that I share with anyone who is even vaguely interested in herbal medicine. I’m a retired RN, but truly believe in using herbs over commercial medications. I have fibro and have had a heck of a time dealing with the effects of it. I went to a Dr. who put me on Cymbalta for the depression end of fibro and it is also supposed to decrease the pain via controlling the serotonin in the brain. It works, but it’s never something that I’d ever take again. I wanted to get off Cymbalta because it makes one gain weight, and fast, plus, the headaches you get if it’s not taken on time… ugh! After a week of weaning off the med under a Dr’s supervision, 1 capsule every other day, I wound up in the ER with my blood pressure at 198/98, pulse way over 120, my skin was literally red and hot, my migraine was through the roof, itched, felt jittery inside and out, nauseated, muscle spasms… The ER doc had to give me several different Iv meds to bring all this under control. It was just the Cymbalta withdrawal, nothing else. After being off it now, for over a month, using herbs to control the fibro, honestly, I’ve not felt this good in years! Herbs may not be for everyone, but it’s what the Creator gave us to use long before big Pharma was ever developed. They worked just fine then and still do now.
my 12 year old is on two medications for adhd and a mood stabilizer. He tales concerta and Abilify. He could “use a higher dosage” but then he gets tics. His wonderful father managed to lose his rx to his abilify last weekend and we have now gone a little over a week without. The Abilify doesn’t just stabilize his moods it also helps him to sleep. Without it, it takes him to or three hours to finally fall asleep. I will say that I have seen some changes, good and bad, without the Abilify. Since we aren’t going to be able to have another rx for a while I wouldn’t mind trying a few different herbal things for him. I know melatonin worked like a charm for him but I read that if you take that for too long your body can become dependent. I also think his difficulties with sleeping come from high level anxiety that the Abilify helps control also. Would the above be safe to mix with his concerta? And I guess the big question is, is this safe for a 12 year old at all? Any and all input would be very appreciated! Thanks