We had a situation last night with my 9-year-old daughter, who can be a sensitive soul, became overtired and anxious. It was just approaching 8.30pm and we were about to cuddle down in bed, when Alex returned home. Keen to spend time with him, we both went back downstairs.
Alex was tired but wired after a full-on day at work. Our daughter began questioning him about his day. But then started to stress over getting ill and not being able to see her friends. She was winding herself into a tizzy and was unable see sense. Which is unsurprising really, because it is a challenging time.
Children often lack the skills to calm themselves down…
especially at bedtime. Even though Alex was doing a phenomenal job of easing her worries (I’ll post on how describes the coronavirus to our children here soon), nothing was getting through. So, I decided to make us all a big pot of herbal tea.
In our day-to-day life, my husband and children have seen me use herbs for all sorts of ailments. A Chamomile and Lavender soaked flannel on a headache, a Thyme medicinal gargle for a scratchy throat, a Calendula wash on a grazed knee or an eye sty, even a Lemon balm herbal spray made up as mosquito repellent. So, it’s unsurprising that they get the occasional cup of herbal tea to help them chill out.
Herbs calm and relax
One of the most valuable actions found in many herbs is their ability to calm and relax. A soothing cup of herbal tea before bedtime, can literally wash the worries away. Before long, our daughter was calm and ready to sleep.
As a qualified Herbalist I know the numerous medicinal benefits of Western herbs. However, many people often feel reluctant, confused and hesitant to take herbs or to give them to their child.
This fear is founded from the lack of modern-day research on the safety of herbs. It saddens me because herbal medicines are the oldest form of healing known, and their medicinal properties are well documented. In fact, many modern-day drugs are modelled on the actions of herbs.
Here’s a review of the literature on the medicinal herbs in the tea I made. With the recipe below.
Researchers have discovered that the constituent apigenin in chamomile tea works on the brain in a similar way to that of a group of anxiety-reducing drugs including Valium, but without the harmful side effects. In fact a Japanese study demonstrated that chamomile extract helped rats fall asleep just as quickly as rats that got a dose of benzodiazepine (a tranquilizing medication). Furthermore, another study demonstrated that chamomile has anti-anxiety properties and the FDA considers chamomile tea to be safe with usually no side effects. It is perfect for children that suffer from bedtime worries an inability to unwind on their own.
Lemon balm & Valerian
Several studies have shown Lemon balm, Valerian and Lemon balm/Valerian combinations to improve sleep patterns and reduce stress, anxiety and hyperactivity in children. In one study a Lemon balm/Valerian combination was found to be as effective as the prescription drug Halcion (a benzodiazepine). Whilst in another study by Maryland Medical Centre of minor sleep problems, 81% of those who took an herbal combination of Valerian and Lemon balm reported sleeping much better than those who took placebo. Lemon balm is approved for “nervous sleeping disorders” by Commission E of the German Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices, however there a lack of data on Valerian in the long term, so to be cautious and use it only for a limited time.
Sleep tea recipe:
1 tsp Chamomile flowers
1 tsp Lemon Balm
½ tsp Valerian root (optional)
Obtaining the herbs: The best way to get hold of herbs is in loose dried form through an online herbal supplier such as Baldwins. These herbs may be of better medicinal value that those in bags in supermarkets. For example, if you are using teabags of chamomile you need 2-3 bags per cup for a medicinal dose.
Brewing the tea: The trick to this tea’s efficacy is to make sure you are brewing it properly. Place the above herbs in a tea pot, put a lid on to keep the oils from escaping; this way you get the medicinal effects of the tea. Steep for 5-10 minutes, strain and allow to cool before drinking. You can sweeten it with honey if desired (for over 1-year olds). Use chamomile cautiously if you or your child are allergic to ragweed (the plants are related). For adults you can double the proportions of herbs. Drink 30 mins to 1 hour before bed.
Caution: Valerian should only be used for up to 4 consecutive weeks. Chamomile and Lemon balm may be used continually.
Have you a natural remedy you use to help relax? Have your children been more anxious this week with lock down? How are you coping?
P.S. the photo is an old one of my daughter (then age 4) drinking herbal tea