Scientific researches have proved what is written in our Vedas for ages. Ayurvedic medicinal herbs boost sleep without side effects.
It is not for nothing that herbs find mention in scriptures and plays from across the world. Remember Shakespeare’s Hamlet, in which Ophelia says: “There’s rosemary, that’s for remembering. Please remember, love. And there are pansies, they are for thoughts” In India and other Asian countries, herbs are a part of everyday life. In fact, herbs are the remedy for the most common problem we face these days: sleep disorders.
With increasing cases of sleeplessness, people are turning to medication. Alterations in the quantity, quality as well as the patterns of the sleep, may contribute to various disorders of sleep, besides negatively affecting performance, learning ability and quality of social life. Sleep disturbances are common in many psychiatric illnesses and are also components of the diagnostic criteria for specific disorders. It is a well-established fact that health problems right from anxiety, tension, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes mellitus, liver and digestive problems to depression can lead to sleep disorders while sleep disorders too can lead us up to such diseases.
According to an article titled ‘Chronic Insomnia Increases Risk of Type 2 Diabetes’, published in online medical journal, Endocrine Web, author Kathleen Doheny says, “Insomnia puts the body in a constant state of stress. Stress is a known contributor to the development and progression of obesity and diabetes because it causes the body to not be ever able to go into repair and relaxation mode. It is always in a reaction mode. It must be taken care of.” Therefore, irrespective of presence on an underlying disease or not, sleep disorders need to be prevented and managed effectively. Wherever the underlying cause is known, one should get the disease treated with the help of their health care provider.
As regards prescriptions for sleep disorders, medicines come under the category of psychotropic drugs, which are habit forming and associated with mild to severe harmful side effects. In majority of cases safe Ayurvedic medicinal herbs can be an ideal alternative, extending additional health benefits, especially herbs like brahmi that can help us sleep.
Brahmi/Mandookparni/Gotu kola (Centella asiatica)
It promotes sleep, is anti-stress nervine tonic, improves memory and mental focus and blood circulation. It also heals diabetic neuropathy, varicose veins, hemorrhoids/piles, and is effective in certain digestive system infections. It also improves libido. It is considered a longevity enhancing herb in China.
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)
This unique herb, helps you relax mentally and physically. It energises you and is a powerful anti-stress/ adaptogen, immuno-modulator. Ashwagandha improves vigour and vitality especially male libido, sperm count, sperm mobility and is antiinflammatory too. This herb is useful in reducing oxidative stress that occurs from loss of sleep.
However, women should take it only when so adviced by their health care provider.
Shankhpuspi (Convolvulus pluricaulis)
This herb contains flavonoids, glycosides and alkaloids that help soothe your nervous system. It brings relief to mental fatigue. It acts as a natural tranquilliser for anxiety neurosis and facilitates sleep. It is a common herb that improves memory, reduces stress, balances sleep and does much more. Use alone or in combination with other herbs.
Valerian/Tagar (Valeriana officinalis/wallichi)
It is used for treating brain-related disorders such as insomnia and nervous unrest. It has a sedative effect on the brain and can be used as a tranquiliser. It brings relief to mild anxiety and nervousness. It cleanses undigested toxins from blood joints, nerves, and the colon. It helps in reducing the vata and kapha dosha. it relieves pain and spasms of involuntary muscles. It is effective in inducing sleep. It is used in treatment of epilepsy, schizophrenia and many other health problems. However, its long term use is not recommended, as it may cause a drop in the blood pressure.
Vacha (Acorus Calamus)
It has calming effect on brain and is effective in curing tension and insomnia. It acts as a coolant that relaxes the nerves, thereby inducing sleep. This herb is a nervous system tonic that will ward off stress. However it is not a preferred herb for routine use in management of sleep disorders, as it may bring about a drop in blood pressure and heart rate.
Sarpgandha /Indian snakeroot ( Rauwolfia Serpentina)
It contains more than 50 alkaloids. These alkaloids help in reducing high blood pressure that can cause sleeping issues. It is also used in the treatment of schizophrenia. Owing to its antihypertensive and anti-schizophrenic effect, Sarpgandha is not recommended for long term or routine use in management of sleep disorders in general.
Jatamasi (Nardostachys jatamansi)
It is a natural brain tonic and a memory enhancer. It allows calmness and relaxation to a hyperactive mind. It helps in inducing sound sleep while rejuvenating and nourishing the nervous system. In Ayurveda, it is prescribed against stress, spasm, epilepsy, convulsion and hysteria. In fact, it is one of the excellent herbs to treat epilepsy. Also it is considered a tonic for heart.
Brahmi is available for oral administration either alone or in poly herbal formulae as tablet, capsule, syrup, and even as chocolates. Organic brahmi coarse powder filled in vegan capsules is also a preferred choice. One to two capsules twice a day is recommended after meals. Brahmi is used in beauty products. Ashwagandha can be similarly administered and is found in similar forms as brahmi.