Subject: Medicine Making Book, and Treatment for Insomnia
Answered by: Christine Dennis
Question from: Jeff
Posted on: February 21, 2008

I was just wondering if you could recommend a good herbalist reference book which gives good descriptions and optimal preparation methods of most medicinal herbs.

My personal favourite is "The Herbal Medicine-Maker’s Handbook : A Home Manual" by James Green and can be purchased from Richters at:

It is an excellent book that covers tinctures, teas, syrups, salves and MUCH more. I routinely recommend it to my students who are not only learning the basics but also for some advanced medicine making information. I feel it is a must have if you are wanting to make your own medicines. You will not be disappointed!

I don’t think I’m a text book insomniac but I’ve always had trouble establishing a normal sleeping pattern. I’m really interested in adding ashwagandha, valerian root and st johns wort to my diet to help me get better control over my life. I was hoping maybe you could give any advice on how to prepare, how much to take and when to take them for best results. Any reading material you think that might be helpful would also be greatly appreciated.

Traditionally ashwaganda is often recommended in milk. If you are not sensitive to milk products, I recommend that you mix 1 tsp of powdered ashwaganda in a cup of milk and bring to a simmer, turn it off and let steep for 10 minutes. Without straining drink both the powder and milk down. This is best taken before bed and in morning if daytime relaxation is hard to achieve. Ashwaganda is considered an adrenal tonic. This means it is useful for helping to restore the adrenal glands after periods of depletion and stress in one’s life and for inducing relaxation and nourishing the nervous system.

St.John’s wort can be taken as a tea or tincture. It is best to not mix this herb with other prescription medications that are being taken for depression and other mood disorders.

Although valerian is often used for sleep issues, it is not the first one I reach for with my patients especially if one is suffering from adrenal burnout. If you are having difficulty falling asleep herbs such as wood betony or passionflower are excellent as a tincture or tea. If you fall asleep fine then wake up in the middle of the night and are wide awake, then blood sugar regulation is important as is adrenal support. Any of the ginseng family plants are useful here as well including the ashwaganda. Furthermore, a complex carbohydrate snack before bed would also be indicated here. If you experience anxiety either day or night then skullcap or lemon balm would be good choices as a tea or tincture again.

Diet is extremely important. Foods that re high in B vitamins and essential fatty acids are of top priority as is proper blood sugar regulation. Exercise can also be helpful in dealing with blood sugar swings, tension and poor sleep patterns.

For more information on insomnia, please go to:

For information on the effects of blood sugar swings please go to:

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