In search of a restful night’s sleep, some people have turned to medication in the form of sleeping pills, antidepressants, sedatives or tranquilizers. However, sleeping pills cause side effects such as dependence and diminished motor skills whereas the usage of antidepressants, sedatives or tranquilizers could result in liver damage, addiction, memory loss, breathing problems, sexual dysfunction, weight gain and other health risks.
The more suitable and recommended alternative, is plant foods or herbs that offers a wholesome solution which helps people sleep better and addresses the root causes of difficulty in sleeping. We list 4 common plant food often associated with improved quality of sleep of its users.
Huang-Qin’s sleep-enhancing benefits are due to its natural melatonin(a hormone the body produces naturally to send sleep signals) content. Researchers from Tsinghua University in Beijing obeserved that Huang-Qin’s seed, flowers and leaves contain melatonin .
Researchers found that Huang-Qin has amazingly high concentration of melatonin, believed to be up to 7,110ng/g (‘ng/g’ denotes nanogram/gram) as compared to St. John’s Wort (1,750 ng/g), Feverfew (2,450 ng/g) and other herbs.
Commonly used and beneficial in many ways, Huang-Qin is ideal for aiding restful sleep and reducing anxiety, which can cause insomnia.
Lavender is a herb that relieves stress, aids sleep and benefits the immune system. It contains compounds that have soothing effects. In fact, Lavender tea has been officially recognised in Germany to promote sleep.
Interestingly, Lavender and Lavender Oil is being used in nursing homes to help residents there to sleep more soundly. Lavender aids sleep by promoting good blood ciculation, which is important since heart rates are lower during sleep.
Scientists found that an oral lavender oil capsule preparation achieved similar anxiety-reducing results as benzodiazepines (a group of drugs usually prescribed for anxiety) without drug-induced sedation or the potential for drug abuse.
Thus Lavender is indeed helpful for anxiety-induced insomnia where it relieves pain and inhibits hormonal reactions that cause inflammation and pain, so it may help to lessen insomnia due headaches.
Chrysanthemum, mainly grown in China, is quite common and well known in that it is brewed to make tea. It is also often used as a traditional remedy for treating boils, carbuncles, fever and conjunctivitis.
For a better sleep, this flower, with a bitter sweet taste, is consumed to relieve stress by providing a calming effect. Chrysanthemum’s many phytochemicals include carotenoids, luteolin-7-beta-D-glucoside and active components in the form of flavonoids such as apigenin and luteolin.
Apigenin reduces anxiety by binding to benzodiazepine receptors, the very same cell receptors to which pharmaceutical sedatives and anti-anxiety drugs bind.
The passsion fruit is an exotic fruit originating in the American tropics and is often consumed as a refreshing beverage. A study published in the Journal for Medicinal Food suggested that passion fruit tranquilizes without disrupting memory processed, unlike the drug diazepam, which may result in memory loss.
Passion fruit is able to induce sleep thanks to its alkaloids and flavonoids. Alkaloids in passion fruits include harmane, harmalol, harmine, harmaline and passiflorine while chrysin is a flavonoid that contributes to passion fruits’s sedative quality. Passion fruit also contains serotonin, which scientists suggest may promote quality sleep.
It has been found that a shortage of serotonin in the body may cause conditions such as insomnia and depression.