• Renu Joshi, Ph. D.

Correcting Sleep and Anxiety Disorders: The Green Way!

Updated: Apr 6, 2018


Sleeping disorder or insomnia has been a common and growing problem in recent time and is considered increasing in proportion to technological, social and professional inspirations increase. Such disorders while can be reduced with medicinal help like anxiolytics and sedatives, they are found to be effective in the first few days of treatment. They cause multiple adverse effects and are generally addictive. With time, their effectiveness decreases and increasing the dose becomes necessary to attain the same effect. The longer you take these drugs, the harder it becomes to break a habit due to the serious withdrawal symptoms.

Green Options

There are multiple plants those can be helpful in delivering the same results and are easily tolerated without causing side effects. Some of such well known anxiolytic plants are valerian (Valeriana officinalis), kava (Piper methysticum), passion flower (Passiflora genus) and lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), or sometimes even St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum) is also thought to be beneficial. Among these, Kava kava - originally from Oceania is considered the king of natural tranquilizers. St. John’s Wort is considered more for depression generated insomnia situations.

Lemon balm is a plant related to mint. From as early as the Middle Ages, it had been used to alleviate anxiety and stress, to bring sedation and also to improve appetite and digestion. Valerian root is sometimes considered a milder version of kava. Studies show that while it gives a calming effect, but not as strong as kava. For mild nervousness, passion flower may be considered, but if it's moderate to severe, you will likely need a more strong remedy. Passion flower, which literally means flower of suffering, alleviates mental and muscular tension and is beneficial for insomnia caused by anxiety. Researches have discovered that it contains compounds called flavonoids those are accountable for the calming effect of passion flower.

Dosages and Combinations:

The recommended dose is one to two capsules with 200 mg of dry extract. You could make tea by adding two to five grams of dried passion flower into half a pint of boiling water. Passion flower is available as a tincture and should be taken as indicated on the bottle. The European pharmacologists recommend passion flower with at least 0.8 percent flavonoids.

One study showed that 600 mg of lemon balm extract elevates mood, brings a feeling of calmness and increases concentration. Several researches have confirmed that the balm works best coupled with some other herbal remedies, specifically with valerian, passion flower and chamomile. Therefore, in one study, 81 percent of the patients slept better after taking a combination of lemon balm and valerian compared with patients who were given a placebo. Additional studies that dealt with nervousness determined the calming effects of a mixture of lemon balm along with other herbs increases. The recommended dose for insomnia and nervousness is 300 to 500 mg of dry extract two or 3 times a day, or 60 drops of tincture daily.


While there are sufficient plant based tranquilizers and have been practiced for many years, the best remedy is to assess the underlying causes of insomnia and anxiety and correct them by bringing lifestyle changes. In this effort, while plant based medicines can support and are not addictive,  they still control only the sleep and anxiety part of it and for other lifestyle generated effects like obesity, digestive or physical problems, appropriate treatment or lifestyle corrections should be sought.

Renu Joshi, Ph. D.
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