A systematic review of valerian research found it to have a statistically significant effect on improving sleep quality and a trend favoring a decrease in the time needed to fall asleep without a hangover effect (next-day drowsiness or grogginess).Several studies have shown that components of valerian inhibit the breakdown of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain decreasing central nervous system activity and inducing sedation in mice (1). Chamomile has also been shown to have sedative properties, increasing the quality of sleep, decreasing the amount of time needed to fall asleep, decrease in the number of nighttime awakenings, and decrease in fatigue (2, 3). Studies have shown jujube seeds to significantly increase total sleep time(4). Schisandra extracts have exhibited sedative and hypnotic activities in mice and rats, including significantly inhibiting motor activity, prolonging sleeping time and reducing sleep latency (5). A component of gastrodia has been shown to significantly decrease motor activity and increase sleep times in mice (6).
From a Traditional Chinese Medicine view:
Xie Cao (Valerian Root, Valeriana officinalis)is warm and enters the LIV and HT channels; induces tranquilization, stops bleeding and alleviates pain.
Huang Chu Ju (Chamomile Flower, Matricaria recutita)enters the LU, HT and ST channels; moves Qi, tonifies the Liver, stops pain, strengthens stomach, releases Exterior, clears Heat, stops cough, moves Blood and calms Shen.
Suan Zao Ren (Sour Jujube Seed, Zizyphus spinosae)is neutral and enters the GB, HT, LIV, and SP channels; nourishes Heart Yin, tonifies Liver Blood, calms the spirit, astringes sweat and generates fluids.
Da Zao (Jujube, Chinese Date, Ziziphus jujube)is warm and enters the SP and ST channels; tonifies the Spleen and Stomach, augments Qi, and nourishes Blood and calms the Spirit.
Tian Ma (Gastrodia Rhizome, Gastrodia elata)is neutral and enters the LIV channel; extinguishes Wind, calms the Liver, stops spasms and tremors, subdues rising Liver Yang, alleviates pain and disperses Wind-Damp Bi.
Wu Wei Zi (Schisandra Fruit, Fructus schisandrae)is warm, enters the HT, KI and LU channels and all five Zang organs; tonifies Qi, astringes Lung Qi leakage and stops coughing, tonifies Kidney and bind Essence, astringes sweat and generates fluids, quiets the Spirit, and calms and contains Heart Qi.
- Bent, S., Padula, A., Moore, D., Patterson, M., Mehling, W. 2006. Valerian for sleep: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Med. Dec 119(12):1005-12. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amjmed.2006.02.026.
- Abdullahzadeh, M., Matourypour, P., Naji, S.A. 2017. Investigation effect of oral chamomilla on sleep quality in elderly people in Isfahan: A randomized control trial. J Educ Health Promot.5(6):53. https://doi.org/10.4103/jehp.jehp_109_15.
- Zick, S.M., Wright, B.D., Sen, A., Arnedt, J.T. 2011. Preliminary examination of the efficacy and safety of a standardized chamomile extract for chronic primary insomnia: a randomized placebo-controlled pilot study. BMC Complement Altern Med.Sep 22(11):78. https://doi.org/10.1186/1472-6882-11-78.
- Cao, J.X., Zhang, Q.Y., Cui ,S.Y., Cui, X.Y., Zhang, J., Zhang, Y.H., Bai, Y.J., Zhao, Y.Y. 2010. Hypnotic effect of jujubosides from Semen Ziziphi Spinosae.JEthnopharmacol.Jul 6;130(1):163-6. https://doi.org/.1016/j.jep.2010.03.023.
- Huang, F., Xiong, Y., Xu, L., Ma, S., Dou, C. 2007. Sedative and hypnotic activities of the ethanol fraction from Fructus Schisandrae in mice and rats. J Ethnopharmacol. Apr 4;110(3):471-5. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jep.2006.10.008.
- Zhang, Y., Li, M., Kang, R.X., Shi, J.G., Liu, G.T., Zhang, J.J. 2012. NHBA isolated from Gastrodia elata exerts sedative and hypnotic effects in sodium pentobarbital-treated mice. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. Oct;102(4):593. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pbb.2012.06.002.