Tuesday, September 29, 2009

HERBS OR SLEEPING PILLS, YOU BE THE JUDGE


Although I could talk about every single tincture I make, I don't want to over saturate your mind with this herbal hoopla. Once you learn about tinctures you pretty much know what you need to know, but I must share a little about lemon balm for those of you who suffer from insomnia.

One confession, I'm not a good sleeper. Never have been, never will be. Sure, I can get a good night sleep now and then but more often than not I don't sleep through the night (not sure if any mothers actually do). If I want to get a good nights rest I usually need some type of sleep aid. I was once medicated, years ago, to sleep through the night, but have chosen to avoid those types of treatments. Instead of being medicated I chose to not sleep. By a total fluke I drank a tea that helped me get a restful nights sleep and initially I didn't realize it was the tea but once I noticed the correlation between drinking the tea and sleeping I started to investigate a little further.

The tea was lemon balm. Depending on the literature you are reading, lemon balm may or may not be affective at promoting sleep. I can attest that it does act as a sedative, as some literature suggests. I learned the affects of lemon balm before I ever read about it.

Lemon balm is wonderful for many things, including: promoting conception, for painful menstruation, hot flashes in menopause, burns, blisters, anxiety, nausea and vomiting and panic attacks (plus much more).

I use it solely to help anxiety and to promote sleep.

Depending on where you get the tea, it may or may not work. My herbal studies have taught me that not all these medicinal plants are created equal, all depends on where they are grown, what species of plant they are, condition of soil, etc... To make sure I have the best lemon balm I grow my own. I know the soil, how well I've cared for the herb, whether or not it is stressed or healthy. I have two beautiful bushes that are thriving well in my backyard.

I thought that the herbal tea was the best thing that ever happened to me but I recently learned that the tincture will do me much better than the tea. Dried herbs tend to lose much of their potency so I've been advised to make a lemon balm tincture, giving myself 5 drops (under the tongue) when I'm anxious or before sleep. I've decided I will do the same before meditation.

So many people have trouble relaxing or sleeping, especially women, so for anyone looking for a natural sedative, lemon balm is great! As with all herbs or medicinal plants, please read up on the dangers associated with the plant and whether or not you have any medical conditions that make the plant inadvisable for you. People with hypothyroidism should avoid lemon balm.

Tincture:
Gather enough lemon balm leaves to fill your jar.
Pack the jar well, leaving a 1/2 inch space form the top of jar.
Fill the jar with 60 proof or higher edible alcohol (I use 80 proof vodka)
It will probably bubble a bit as it settles in the jar so you'll need to add more.
Make sure you cover all the leaves with vodka, leaving none sticking out.
Fill to the top of jar and cover with tight fitting lid.
Label with date & herb name.

Susan Weed suggests 6 weeks for all tinctures. I tend to think she's the gospel on herbal meds so I trust her judgement.

MATTHEW WOOD one of Minnesota's wonderful herbalists, has some good information about lemon balm on his site. Click on his name to read more.

Here is a great video from learningherbs.com/mountain rose herbs on making a tincture. They are using another great sedative plant called valerian.