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Sometimes, after a long bustling day, all I want to do is lie in my favourite recliner chair, sip a cuppa warm soothing tea, and close my eyes to slow jazz music. No phones, no emails, no running back and forth doing errands – just me and my tea to dissipate the knotted tension in my head or body.

I’ve only started incorporating tea into my daily routine about a year ago, usually just before bedtime, or as a replacement for coffee at work, and I wonder why I didn’t discover the magic in tea earlier. There’s just something about its calming fragrance that has a relaxing effect on your body. If you’re in desperate need of a really good sleep, or if you’re just interested to know how to unwind and relax at the end of the day, here are 8 herbs to do the trick (and it doesn’t always have to used in tea!).

Lavender

Everyone knows lavenders are beautiful, they smell amazing, and they’re great for relaxation for the soul. Insomnia, agitation, restlessness – lavenders are the perfect remedy to them all. This fragrant herb has the ability to slow down your body’s nervous activity (literally forcing you to relax – something we busy city dwellers need in our lives now and then), promoting better quality of sleep and relaxation. It’s commonly found in essential oils and used in massages or baths. However, lavender can definitely be drunk as teas as well. A lovely-smelling floral tea that is organic and herbal before bedtime for a well-rested night – who could ask for more?

Chamomile

Arguably the first tea that comes to mind when you think of relaxation, Chamomile lives up to its reputation as a wonderfully calming herb for both adults and children alike. For the little ones, add a tinge of honey to chamomile tea and tuck them in for a good night’s rest. Like lavenders, chamomile oil can be added to bath water, or used in aromatherapy, as well to soothe those exhausted and overworked nerves of yours. The relaxing effects of chamomile can be attributed to this compound, by the name of apigenin, which binds to the brain’s neurotransmitter to induce relaxation. This sweet and fragrant night time drink is definitely a must-try for everyone, whether you’re struggling with sleep or not.

Nilufer Tea's Lemon & Chamomile tea contains pesticide-free chamomile and lemon pieces that helps you to sleep better and deeper. It will calm your soul and put your mind into a greater state of ease.

Peppermint

When it comes to relaxation herbs, peppermint is pretty much unheard of. In fact, it’s probably better known to stimulate and perk you up, or used in your toothpaste for a refreshing morning wake-me-up when you brush your teeth. While it doesn’t directly induce snoozing, peppermint preps your body up such that it might improve your sleep quality at night. Not only does it open up your airways for better airflow and oxygenation at night in your sleep, this refreshing herb relaxes your intestines and muscles, to minimize overactivity and tension in your body that prevents you from dozing off. If you’re one of those who absolutely loves feeling clean and fresh before bed, peppermint would be your perfect night time drink to help you sleep better.

Passionflower

If you’re the kind of sleeper who has their snooze interrupted every 2 to 3 hours, passionflower is the remedy to your restless nights and sleeping problems. Free from side effects and known for being a great sedative, passionflower is also perfect and safe for children to consume in large doses frequently. One hour before your bedtime, try it with some tea or take 30 to 60 drops of passionflower tincture, and you’re on your way to your most calming and peaceful rest in a long while. This little powerhouse of a herb is also said to quell anxiety and reduce blood pressure. If you’re not much of a risk-taker when it comes to food and remedies, you should consider this safe-to-consume herb to help resolve your sleeping woes.

Disclaimer: If you’re currently taking a Monoamine Oxidase inhibitor or other antidepressants, you’re strongly encouraged not to take this herb.

Lemon Balm

Generally used as a mood lifter as well as to soothe your nerves, Lemon Balm improves the quality of your sleep by helping to improve your mental health through relaxation. It can be used both in aromatherapy as well as in drinking teas. However, be careful of overdosing – above 1800 mg a dose and it might backfire, increasing your anxiety levels. You should be working towards a mild and calming tea: for every 240ml, add about 8 tablespoons of fresh balm or 2 tablespoons of dried balm. To top it off, add a lil’ bit of honey, steep for 5 minutes, and strain. It’s best taken half an hour before your bedtime!

Harnessing the power of herbs and flowers can feel a little like magic. My grandma used to have a little herb garden and not only did she cook with the plants she grew herself, but whenever I went to her with complaints about a wound, an aching stomach or being unable to sleep, she’ll nod her head sagely, go out into the garden and pluck a something that will make me feel better. Drinking whatever she gave me felt like a healing potion that only she could make. She used to tell me the juice of this plant could help with wounds or that the leaves of another were good at keeping the common flu at bay. Obviously living in the city has greatly diminished my hopes for my own extensive herb garden and I can barely recognise one plant from the other. However, having a basic knowledge of which plants help with which ailments can greatly improve your lifestyle and strengthen your body. You do not have to be a grandma with years of experience to harness the power of nature. Here are some herbs to get you started:

1. Chamomile

Let’s start off with an easy one, shall we? Everyone and their grandmas know about the benefit of chamomile on sleep and it’s not a myth. Traditionally, chamomile has been used to help with insomnia because it is mildly sedative. This may be due to the certain flavonoids that affect the brain. Although not many clinical trials have been done, there was one study that showed the inhalation of chamomile oil vapours reduced the production of a stress-induced hormone. The benefits of chamomile have been recorded for thousands of years and it is one of the oldest and most widely used herbs. It is no surprise why – it doesn’t just induce sleep, it is also anti-inflammatory, helps with the common cold and digestion by soothing the stomach, calms irritated skin and stimulates the immune system.

2. Rose

Rose is one of those plants which you assume is only around for its beauty or for its popularity during Valentines Day, but the truth is this plant has its own myriad of benefits. They have been in use since the ancient Greeks and Romans who used them to perfume their baths. Roses offer beauty enhancing benefits, and its essential oil is highly antibacterial and therefore, great in managing acne and acne prone skin.  Its calming properties can reduce swollen spots or redness. Since roses are natural astringents, they help to tighten pores and tone skin. Plus, unlike alcohol toners, roses have a moisturising effect on your skin and does not dry it out.

3. Lavender

Image cred: redfox on Unsplash

Lavender is another one of those herbs that’s popularly used to help with relaxation. The natural compounds in their leaves and flowers can be ground and applied directly to your temples or brewed in tea to relieve the mind of anxiety and balance your mood. Lavender tea has also been used for thousands of years to induce sleep and it is helpful for insomnia. Not only that, it has strong anti-inflammatory components which can help reduce swellings and calm irritated skin.

4. Coriander

Coriander is a herb as well as a spice commonly found in many households that make curries or masalas. This humble plant native to the Mediterranean is packed full of health benefits. It has eleven compounds of essential oils, six types of acids, minerals and vitamins. All of these various components have their individual benefits. Coriander lowers skin inflammation, and it has disinfectant, detoxifying, antiseptic, antifungal and antioxidant properties which are ideal for clearing up the skin and fortifying the body. It also helps improve cholesterol levels and lowers blood sugar and is sometimes used to help with diabetes.

5. Lemon

Everyone knows that lemons are a good source of Vitamin C, but what exactly does that mean? Vitamin C does more than just prevent common colds, it also may reduce your risk of cardiovascular diseases, stroke and high blood pressure. Better yet, research has also proven how useful Vitamin C in lemons is in improving the quality of our skin, and even in reducing wrinkles. Lemons also have a variety of other benefits such as aiding digestion, speeding up weight loss and preventing kidney stones.

Of course this is but the tip of the iceberg when it comes to using plants for your benefits. A little research will yield a plethora of uses for the herbs and flowers that are readily available to you. If you are still a little confused on how you should use herbs and flowers, an easy way in is through teas. There are a many available in the market containing a huge variety of herbs. Why not try Nilufer’s caffeine free Lemon and Chamomile tea or Rose? They are made from organic ingredients that have been grown without any use of pesticides. Shop here today!

Written by: Annmaria Patteri

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