Alternatively Speaking: Taking it easy

Alternative medicine expert Natalie Marx answers your questions: Can you recommend any herbs for curing insomnia?

July 16, 2012 12:23

Insomnia. (photo credit: Thinkstock)


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Q. Dear Natalie, can you recommend any herbs for curing insomnia?

There are indeed many psychoactive herbs for insomnia and the benefits of taking these is that they are not habit forming, have no narcotic effects and can be taken over a long time. I recommend trying these herbs before bedtime as teas or you can add several drops into the bath for a relaxing sleep.

Perhaps the most common herbal tea to be used across the world for insomnia is Chamomile. The most effective way to consume chamomile is as a tea. Pour hot water over 2 to 4 grams of dried chamomile leaves to create one cup of tea. Let steep for about 10 minutes before removing leaves ready for drinking. The tea also aids in digestion and works as a muscle relaxer, which also promotes rest.

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A common combination of herbs I often prescribe includes Valerian root, lemon balm and passion flower mixed together to create a wonderful herbal tea that encourages sleep. Lime blossom is another relaxing herb that reduces tension and helps support the nervous system. Use lime blossom essential oil mixed with jojoba oil and put a few drops in your bath before bedtime.

Finally, try using the herb lavender to treat insomnia. You can mix the lavender to the chamomile tea in the evening for a restful sleep. Another option is to put a few drops of lavender essential oil on the underside of your pillow to promote sleep.

Do not rub the lavender essential oil directly on your skin or take it internally.

Q. Dear Natalie, I have an important presentation to give to a large audience and I suffer terribly from stage fright. I get so nervous, sweaty, suffer from severe diarrhea and my short shallow breathes result in a poor delivery. Can you recommend anything herbal to help me relax and also give me the confidence I need?

A. I am not promising a walk in the park but with some natural remedies I might just be able to take the edge off your nerves.

The evening before your presentation: To be at your best you need a good night’s sleep before your presentation. Taking a warm bath with aromatherapy oils will help to prepare the mind and body for deep relaxation. I suggest adding a few drops of Neroli and Bergamot essential oil. If you don’t have a bath, create a soothing room by lowering the lights and using an oil burner burn the essential oils instead. Next make a big pot of lemon balm tea mixed with rose petal – this will lift your mood and relieve any symptoms of stress and insomnia.

Before you go to bed I suggest you try a very simple breathing exercise. A simple technique for dealing with the sharp, shallow breaths we get when nervous is to begin by breathing in slowly and steadily to the count of seven, and then breathe out slowly and steadily to the count of eleven. Continue with this rhythm of in-breaths and out-breaths until your breathing becomes more relaxed and you will notice the tension begin to subside.

The day of the presentation: Begin your day with porridge for breakfast. It’s a great choice as oats are a natural tonic for the nerves and help relieve anxiety and stress. If you are feeling like your anxiety is out of control, buy a little bottle of the Bach Flower Remedy Rock Rose - this will help you focus on the positive and find your inner resolve.

Larch Bach Flower Remedy will give you the confidence to shine. Simply drop a few drops under your tongue whenever you need them.

During the presentation: Press on the pressure point in the middle of your hand to relax the mind and this will ease anxiety. Press gently and breathe. This technique is subtle enough to be able to use throughout the presentation. Finally, both valerian and chamomile tea can also help and be drunk the day of the presentation to ease the symptoms of stress and anxiety, as well as ease the nerves. Wishing you the best of luck.

Q. Is it true that by eating or drinking soy products, a woman can affect her menstruation?

A. Soy products contain estrogen-like compounds that the body processes similar to its own estrogen, however they can affect each woman differently. Some find it helps the condition of their menstruation, while others find the opposite to be true.

For those who experience hormonally-sensitive menstrual cycle disorders, such as poly-cystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) or estrogen dominance, it is recommended to be cautious about your soy intake since soy can suppress hormones associated with ovulation. A study made by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition researched women who consumed 60g of soy protein and experienced decreases in follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and lutenizing hormone (LH). The changes affected the ovulation by suppressing egg production and maturation.

However, it is important to note that the amount of soy in question is not a commonly consumed amount - the equivalent to consuming 36 oz. of soy milk per day for a month. The benefits of women consuming soy is that for some it may help with the cramping pain that sometimes accompanies menstruation (dysmenorrhea). According to the University of Maryland Medical Centre, some women who experience dysmenorrhea find relief when they eat less red meat and more soy products.

Natalie runs a clinic both in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem offering a wide range of natural treatment, including a women’s clinic every Wednesday. Healing is achieved using homeopathy, reflexology, massage, flower remedies and nutritional wisdom.

To make an appointment please email

Ask Natalie: If you have a health query and would like an alternative answer then email Natalie with your question at

This column is brought to you as general information only and unless stated otherwise is not medical advice nor is it based on medical experiments. This column is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. For more information about specific problems, please contact a doctor.

Someone Once Said: ‘The part can never be well unless the whole is well.’
- Plato

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