Sedatives and Stimulants
For centuries, herbalists have been using plants with sedating effects on the central nervous system to help treat insomnia and, in low doses, to relieve anxiety. At the same time, they've used an assortment of stimulating herbs, which boost mental and physical performance and fight fatigue.
Plants are almost always a better choice than any OTC or prescription drugs that work on the central nervous system — either sedatives or stimulants — because they generally don't carry the same side effects, which include agitation or excessive sedation, diarrhea or constipation, dizziness, hallucinations, and dependency.
Herbal stimulants work on the central nervous system, subtly increasing metabolic processes to increase alertness and energy.
Herbal Sleep Aids
Plant-based sedatives can be tailored to your specific needs — the herbs used to treat insomnia and agitation vary widely in their sedating effect — and in most cases you can mix them with other remedies (or a glass of wine) without worrying about drug interaction. Here are some of the most popular herbal sedatives:
Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)
Kava (Piper methysticum)
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)
Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata)
Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)
Herbs That Stimulate
Stimulant herbs can provide a gentle boost to your mental and physical energy levels. Here are some of the better-known herbal stimulants:
Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng)
Cocoa (Theobroma cacao)
Coffee (Coffea arabica)
Guarana (Paullinia cupana)
Mate (Ilex paraguariensis)
Tea (Camellia sinensis)