Calming Herbs

canstockphoto13690044 Hops


This one is for my friend Crystal at Passiflora Aromatics.  Thanks for the suggestion.

There are a number of herbs that have excellent sedative effects. Some of them are 

  • Lemon Balm
  • Valerian
  • Skullcap
  • Hops
  • Lavender

 Since Lemon Balm is my favourite I have written an entire blog on this.  See the posting at my blog here.  Let’s look at some of the others. 


Yes these are the same hops used in making Beer!  Through the ages hops have been used to induce relaxation, improve sleep, calm anxiety and even treat some cancers.  The chemicals contained in the leaves of the hops are what gives them their sedative effect.

Hop pillows have been popular throughout the centuries as an easy way to deal with insomnia.  Simply fill a small cloth bag with hops, close it securely and place it in your pillow case with your pillow.  This can be effective but some people dislike the smell of hops and if you have any allergies I would recommend other ways to use hops.

Hops can be brewed as tea.  Simply crush the hops.  Use one teaspoonful in a cup of water and let steep for 10 minutes.  While this is beneficial I recommend either adding honey or combining the hops with another herb to improve the flavour.  Hops extract is sold in most herbal pharmacies.

There are few noted side effects for Hops and it is considered safe in normal doses.  However, given it’s sedative nature I would not recommend driving or any dangerous activity until you discover how you react to hops. 


Valerian is a superb sedative herb.  It smells however, like an old sock.  The odour of valerian is unmistakable although some animals love it!

Valerian is effective in sleep disorders where there is anxiety and difficulty falling asleep.  It has been useful when people want to stop taking Sleeping Pills.  I would recommend that if you are going to use it to wean yourself from sleeping pills, that you consult your Dr, a qualified Naturopath or Clinical Herbalist.  The best way to take Valerian is through supplement or extract.

Valerian is thought to be safe for most people although it is not recommended for women who are pregnant or breast feeding.  Some people find they have a mild hangover from taking Valerian and it can even cause insomnia and restlessness in some people.  As with all herbs you need to discover how it affects you.

Valerian interacts with drugs that change in the liver, anaesthesia (discontinue use at least 2 weeks prior to surgery) and alcohol.  It is not recommended to drive or operate machinery when taking valerian. 


Scullcap is an excellent sedative herb.  It is used as a natural tranquilizer, to ease anxiety and to induce sleep.  It is also useful for muscle spasms and twitching.  For a more thorough description check out herbslist.  Skullcap is one of the herbs that you need to know the latin name for in order to make sure you are getting the right thing.  Look for Scuttelaria lateriflora.

There isn’t a lot of cautions or interaction information about Skullcap.  I will however share the fact that when I have taken skullcap in even small amounts in the past it has caused a severe headache and therefore I personally do not recommend it, however it has helped people over the centuries.  I strongly recommend that if you are going to use skullcap that you do so with the advice of a qualified Dr, Naturopath or Clinical Herbalist. 


Judging by the number of hummingbirds and bumble bees around my lavender plants, there is something very positive about it.  Lavender is the quick and easy go to herb for relaxation.  The scent of lavender alone can be relaxing and combined with rose petals is a great way to stay calm during a working day.

Lavender can be used as an essential oil as long as it is diluted with a carrier oil, the flowers can be used in a calming potpouri, it can be used in sleep pillows in the same way as hops, it can be used in sachets to promote relaxation and keep moths away.  My favourite use for lavender is in a tea.  Make sure you get food grade lavender.  You can simply steep a teaspoon of lavender flowers in a cup of water or you can mix the lavender with other herbs.  For a relaxing and refreshing tea hot or cold combine lemon balm and lavender in equal parts. Steep 1 teaspoon in a cup of water for 5 minutes covered.  It also makes an amazing iced tea.  Combine lemon balm and lavender in equal parts.  Steep enough for a full pot of tea (4-5 tablespoons) let cool and pour into a pitcher.  Enjoy over ice.  A great way to carry your relaxing tea is in a water bottle.  You can happily sip away all day.

The only cautions for lavender seem to be that it may have an interaction with anaesthesia and if you apply it directly to skin it can cause burning.  It is also not recommended for pre-pubescent boys because of it’s estrogenic effects. 


I can’t dedicate a blog to Passiflora Aromatics without covering off this excellent calming herb.  Passionflower is useful for 

  • anxiety
  • insomnia
  • digestive disorders 
  • narcotic drug withdrawal (if used with the advice of a Dr, Naturopath or Clinical Herbalist.)

Passionflower does have some side effects such as dizziness, lack of coordination altered consciousness and inflamed blood vessels.  It is not recommended for pregnant or breast feeding women.  It also interacts with anaesthesia so should be discontinued at least two weeks prior to surgery. 

Sorry about the length of this post folks but there is a lot of information to cover!