For centuries, humans have turned to plants for their medicinal and therapeutic benefits, including their sedative properties to induce relaxation and sleep. Many herbs and flowers contain active compounds that work on the central nervous system to reduce anxiety, calm restlessness, and promote deep, restorative sleep. And which plant is best known for its sedative powers ? Here are 9 best known plants prized for their natural sedative powers.
Sedative Plant: Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla)
One of the most commonly used sedatives, chamomile has been valued since ancient times for its calming qualities. Both the German chamomile and Roman chamomile varieties contain sleep-enhancing flavonoids as well as the terpene bisabolol.
Enjoying a warm cup of chamomile tea before bedtime can help you unwind and prepare for a peaceful night’s sleep. The essential chamomile oil can also be diluted and used in aromatherapy.
Sedative Plant: Lavender
This beautifully fragrant purple flower has long been used to promote relaxation. The scent triggers pleasant memories and feelings that reduce anxiety.
Lavender’s primary sedative compounds include linalool, linalyl acetate, and terpinen-4-ol, which have been scientifically proven to have calming effects on the nervous system. Lavender essential oil or a few drops of tincture help achieve restful sleep.
Sedative Plant: Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata)
Used for centuries in folk medicine, passionflower increases gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) levels in the brain to initiate sleepiness and calm nerves.
The flavonoids and alkaloids in passionflower extracts exhibit anti-anxiety, antidepressant, and sleep-enhancing effects.
Passionflower provides a natural remedy for anxiety and insomnia, people also use it as a tea, tincture, or capsule.
Sedative Plant: Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)
One of the most potent herbal sedatives, valerian root contains valerenic acid and valerenol that impact GABA and serotonin to reduce anxiety and nervous system activity.
Clinical studies validate valerian’s efficacy for insomnia. The unpleasant smell of valerian is remedied by taking it as a supplement rather than tea.
Sedative Plant: Hops (Humulus lupulus)
Best known for brewing beer, hops is also a traditional sleep aid. The bitter resins in hops contain a flavonoid called xanthohumol which has sedating properties.
Hops stimulates the neurotransmitter adenosine to induce drowsiness. The compounds in hops are most effective when consumed, so extracts or capsules are ideal.
Sedative Plant: California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica)
This beautiful golden poppy native to the West Coast contains bioactive alkaloids that provide a gentle sedative effect.
California poppy treats nervous agitation and anxiety that can interfere with sleep. It is generally safe even for children. Tinctures or capsules of California poppy are available commercially.
Sedative Plant: Skullcap (Scutellariae Radix)
Skullcap’s sleep-enhancing and anxiety-reducing capabilities come from a variety of flavonoids including scutellarein, baicalin and baicalein. It works on GABA receptors and restores neurological balance.
Skullcap is available in powder, tincture or capsule form. It is very bitter tasting and best consumed in supplement form.
Sedative Plant: Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)
A member of the mint family, lemon balm contains rosmarinic acid and other polyphenols that limit anxiety and elevate mood.
Traditionally people use it for its soothing, sleep-promoting properties, lemon balm can as a tea or extract. It is very safe even at high dosages.
Sedative Plant: Magnolia Bark
In traditional Chinese medicine, magnolia bark relieves anxiety and nervous system imbalance.
Magnolol, honokiol and other bioactive compounds found in magnolia bark act as natural sedatives by increasing GABA activity. Magnolia is available as oral supplements or topical essential oil blends.
By turning to these 9 natural botanicals prized through the ages for their gentle sedative properties, many people are able to achieve relaxed sleep without pharmaceuticals. But it’s important to note that while these plants have been celebrated for their sedative properties, it’s always advisable to consult with a healthcare professional before introducing any new remedies into your routine, especially if you have underlying health conditions or are taking medications.