Natural Medicine

Plants that treat anxiety and sleep disorders

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Herbs, which are stressful, sedative, and calming, can be helpful against anxiety and sleep disorders, and can replace tranquilizers and sleeping pills.

Treating your head without medication is serious, and even proposed by a psychiatrist specializing in sleep, Dr. Patrick Lemoine, who has dedicated a book to it.

"In case of stress, depression and associated sleep disturbances, plants are useful first line. They should not abruptly interrupt a current treatment, but they allow reducing the (over) consumption of sleeping pills, which generates a polypharmacy problem. Some molecules in addition, they destroy the architecture of sleep and cause habituation ", adds Dr. Chevallier.

Of course, there are limits, the action of the plants is not immediate and it usually takes two to four weeks to feel the benefits.

Against anxiety, hawthorn and eschscholtzia.

"Hawthorn is the flagship plant for anxious and stressed states that are accompanied by palpitations and difficulty falling asleep," says Dr. Chevallier. Its relaxing activity is due at least in part to the anthocyanins and phenolic acids it contains. Interesting when the anxieties are nocturnal and the musings spin in the head and prevent sleep.

"To further attack sleep disorders, you can add eschscholtzia, a plant that makes it easier to fall asleep."

How to use these plants?

In capsule form, to buy in pharmacies. Take one 300 mg hawthorn capsule in the evening while symptoms last.

An over-the-counter drug, Sympathyl, combines hawthorn and eschscholtzia, in the right doses, combined with magnesium. A 2014 double-blind study of almost 260 patients with mild to moderate anxiety (80% women) showed that it reduced anxiety disorders better than placebo.


If palpitations persist, it is best to speak with your doctor.

Against depression, valerian instead of St. John's wort

Valerian is used for nervous tension that is accompanied by a moderate depressive note and trouble falling asleep. For Dr. Lemoine, the effectiveness of this plant in sleep disorders is quite good. Its mode of action is known: valerenic acid acts on receptors located on the surface of neurons.

How to use valerian?

Valerian capsules, each with a dose of 300 mg, are preferred to buy in pharmacies. Take one at night, for the duration of the problems, not to exceed four to six weeks.


Its possible adverse effects, nausea, dizziness.

St. John's Wort, an effective but not ideal antidepressant

St. John's wort is helpful for mild to moderate depression. But this plant has many drawbacks. It is contraindicated in bipolar disorder and interferes with many drugs (antidepressants, migraine drugs, pills).

"St. John's wort is useful as a substitute for conventional antidepressants," says Dr. Chevallier. But you have to wait three weeks before taking it, while the body eliminates the remains of other medications."

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