I have trouble sleeping and have tried shutting off my electronic devices well before bed, relaxation exercises and even taking magnesium, I don't want to take sleeping tablets but I am not able to sleep a whole night through, mostly waking at 3am - can you help?
Sleep is so important and it can be stressful if you are not sleeping well! Medicinal plants such as Valerian, Lemon Balm, Passionflower and Hops have relaxing, sedative properties without the side effects usually associated with sleeping tablets, such as dependence and morning drowsiness. They are best taken as a medicinal tea before bedtime to help your body to wind down and switch into resting mode. They help with falling asleep and staying asleep. It is beneficial to take them as a daily evening ritual because over time they help to reset your body so it can relax more easily again. These medicinal plants also build nervous resilience, so that you are less affected by stress.
However, it is also important to address the underlying cause - why are you having trouble sleeping? If specific organs are working under par they can interfere with the quality and duration of sleep. For example a specific sign of an under-functioning liver is waking up at night between 12 midnight and 3am.
Because you are always waking up at 3am, I would suggest taking bitter herbs which support liver function during the day. A combination of Globe Artichoke, St Mary's Thistle, Dandelion, Fennel, Calendula and Peppermint, which is combined in the Artemis Liver Detox Tea, would be a great place to start. Try three cups each day before meals until your sleep improves and then drop it down to one cup every day before breakfast for maintenance.
Another common cause of sleeplessness is daytime stress. When you are stressed, especially if the stress is chronic, your body produces cortisol. This hormone influences your natural circadian rhythm, an innate mechanism that tells you when you should rest and when you should be awake. Excess cortisol can accumulate in the body and interrupt sleep at night. St John's Wort, a medicinal plant most known for its antidepressant actions, can help to improve the clearance of excess cortisol. A good way to take this plant medicine is during daytime so that you don't suffer from excess cortisol at night, which will interrupt your sleep pattern.
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I'm pregnant and have a dreadful cough. The doctor says it is a virus so antibiotics won't help but is there something I could be doing, it just won't shift?
Absolutely, there are many medicinal plants which can help relieve a cough. The best ones are those that additionally deal with the underlying viral infection, either by directly attacking the virus (anti-viral herbs) or by boosting your immune system so that you are better equipped to fight the infection.
Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) is one of the best cough relieving herbs. It is listed in international pharmacopoeias for any type of cough and is excellent in viral cough, bronchitis, whooping cough and asthmatic cough. It relieves the cough by relaxing the lungs and also by acting as an expectorant (help to bring up irritating mucus). Furthermore, its essential oils have powerful antiseptic as well as antiviral and antibacterial properties. We are lucky in New Zealand as some of the best medicinal Thyme grows in Central Otago.
Aniseed oil (Pimpinella anisum) is also of benefit as it has a bronchio-spasmolytic and anti-tussive effect, which eases spasms in the chest and when coughing. It is an effective expectorant, which means it thins mucous so it can be coughed up more easily, making it helpful for treating coughs and bronchial irritation. The anti-bacterial properties help to prevent and treat infection.
Marshmallow root (Althaea officinalis) is the most important herb to relieve dry, unproductive coughs and bronchitis due to its inflammation and pain relieving properties. It soothes and protects the mucous membrane tissue of the nose, throat and mouth.
These herbs are combined in the Artemis Chest Relief formula, which is suitable to take during pregnancy.