Numerous herbs, available in capsules, tinctures or teas, have been traditionally used to treat insomnia. Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) seems to top the list for many herbalists. Often used in folk medicine as a sedative, recent scientific studies have substantiated valerian's ability to improve sleep quality and relieve insomnia. Suggested dosage is 300 to 500 mgs one hour before bedtime (minimum of 0.5 percent essential oils).

Another highly recommended herb for sound sleep is passionflower (Passiflora incarnata). Anne McIntyre, author of The Complete Woman's Herbal (Henry Holt), considers passionflower "a wonderfully relaxing remedy and one of the best tranquilizing herbs for chronic insomnia." In a concentrated extract, the suggested dosage for passionflower is 200 to 300 mgs one hour before bedtime.

Other sedative herbs include chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla), kava (Piper methysticum), lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), hops (Humulus lupulus) and scullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora).

Note: Some herbs and drugs may interact with one another in potentially dangerous ways. If you are taking any medications, check with your health care practitioner before using herbal remedies. This information is not meant as medical advice.

— V.U.