Best Herbs for Sleep

With nearly a third of adults in the United States suffering from the symptoms of insomnia, herbal remedies can be a safe and effective alternative to alleviate the symptoms with little to no adverse side effects. 

Let’s explore two of the most effective herbs for treating sleep problems and conditions that commonly affect sleep. There are many herbs that have been used to induce restful sleep in traditional Chinese medicine, with a long track record of success dating back more than two thousand years. 

We’ve highlighted one Chinese herb and one Western herb, both central to many of the Remrise products.

Spine Date Seed (Suan Zao Ren)

Source: Chinese herbalism

Suan zao ren is one of the most common herbs used in traditional Chinese Medicine to reduce insomnia and calm the mind. Spine date seeds, also referred to as jujube seed, come from the ziziphus jujuba plant, a fruit-bearing shrub that grows naturally in southern Asia. 

This botanical is typically consumed as an extract, or as a powder when ground from dry ripe seeds. It can be taken alone or most typically, it is combined with other herbs to create a potent synergistic calming effect. 

The seeds contain over 50 bioactive components including various alkaloids, saponins, and flavonoids. Suan zao ren’s hypnotic properties are primarily a result of its action on the GABA and serotonin systems. It has been found to bind to GABA receptors and activates an enzyme that is involved in GABA synthesis. 

In a 2018 meta-analysis of six studies, suan zao ren resulted in better objective sleep scores compared to placebo as measured by the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index. In the same analysis, two studies found that suan zao ren functioned as an effective adjunct therapy to the anti-anxiety prescription, diazepam. It improved sleep scores compared to just diazepam alone. 

Valerian Root

Source: Western herbalism

Valerian root, or valeriana officinalis, is native to Europe and Asia but also cultivated in the United States, China, and many other countries. It has been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years to promote relaxation and better sleep. It is commonly found brewed in teas, or available as an extracted supplement in liquid or capsule form.

Valerian root owes its sedative properties to the bioactive constituents valerenic acid, isovaleric acid, and several antioxidants. Valerenic acid, in particular, has been found to exert modulating action on GABA receptors in the brain. In a 2015 meta-analysis that examined 16 studies evaluating valerian root’s effect on sleep, demonstrated that six of the studies showed a statistically significant benefit of valerian root on sleep quality and induction.

Conclusion

When it comes to sleep aids, we know there are a variety of options to choose from. At Remise, we take an integrative, holistic approach to addressing poor sleep with rotational sleep formulas that balance the most calming herbs of the East and West. 

Glossary

Tincture: A medicine created by dissolving the medicinal substance in an alcohol solution

Decoction: An extraction method for water-soluble compounds done by boiling the herbal or plant materials.

Sedative: Any substance that induces sedation and calmness and promotes sleep.

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