Herbal Teas for Sleep, Insomnia, and Easing Anxiety

Herbal Teas for Sleep, Insomnia, and Easing Anxiety

As a follow-up to my post 5 Remedies that will Change the Way You Sleep, here’s a list of my favorite bedtime teas. You won’t find the classics like Chamomile and Lavender on here because, let’s be honest, I’d be wasting everyone’s time. So, here is my short list of some not-so-obvious bedtime tonics.

BUT FIRST, let’s talk about tea blends.

Tea Blends

If you’re into tea blends, you’re not alone. I like them too. The problem is, not all blends are created equal and it isn’t always immediately obvious.

In the case of bedtime tea blends, the first thing to look out for is how much of the main ingredient they include – or whichever ingredient you’re most depending on to knock you out. Some tea blends include such a scanty amount of certain herbs that I wonder why they even bother at all.

Let’s consider Valerian root.

Valerian is excellent in an evening tea. I’m not going to talk a whole lot about Valerian specifically though, because I feel like the interwebs has sufficiently covered its sleep benefits. However, if Valerian root is news to you, then definitely read more about it here, and go get you some Valerian tea bags.

Anyway. Tea blends.

Let’s consider the amount of Valerian in a couple of popular nighttime blends.

Yogi Bedtime tea has 20 mg of Valerian root. I’m not hating on Yogi – I actually love Yogi Soothing Caramel Bedtime – but like, c’mon, 20 mg of Valerian? That’s no Valerian. Yogi teas have a great flavor and a relaxing herb blend, but I could never depend on a Yogi Bedtime teabag to induce any sort of sleep benefits on its own.

Still, adding a Yogi teabag to your cup is a great way to disguise the flavor of a pure Valerian teabag that packs more of a punch but tastes like your unkempt back lawn.

Anyway, to give you an idea of just how little 20 mg of Valerian is, take a look at the Nighty Night Valerian Tea by Traditional Medicinals.

So, 450mg of Valerian. Kind of a MASSIVE jump. Looking for an even bigger kick of Valerian? Then, you’re going to have to go pure.

In my opinion, pure is the best method if you’re prioritizing the effects of a single ingredient like Valerian. As you can see, a single teabag of Buddha Valerian Root Tea has 1.5 grams of Valerian. See uuuuu. The only downside of pure teabags is they taste like Scheiße by Lady Gaga, so this is where tea blends like Yogi come in and work their magic to hide the taste of leaves.

Loose Leaf Tea Blends

Besides making sure that your teabags aren’t trying to fake it til they make it, I just want to mention loose leaf tea. I get that it’s a hassle and you end up having to clean out the little strainer for a whole 25 seconds – ugh, the worst. But, if you’re into it, stick to loose leaf blends.

One of my favorite brands is Tea Tonix.

They have blends for all types of moods and purposes, but in our case Be Sleepy is most fitting. Plus, it includes 3 of the 4 herbs I recommend in this post. Cha-ching.

Herbal Teas

CBD Infusion

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If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it ten gazillion times. CBD is the answer to your sleep problems. And guess what? You can drink it as a tea!

Where to buy

Green Road’s CBD Chamomile Tea contains 7mg CBD along with other relaxing ingredients and aromas like chamomile, vanilla, and peppermint. So, if you’re looking for a little something to help unwind, this is a great bet. You can also get it as regular and decaf coffee.

If you’re looking for something more in the range of a poison apple or magic spinning wheel, then The Brother’s Apothecary Hemp-Derived CBD Infusion Tea might be for you. These teas pack 60+ mgs of CBD in their teabags, which come in a variety of flavors such as Chai and Kava root (oh, we’ll get to Kava root).

Vervain (verbena officinalis) or Blue Vervain (verbena hastata)

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If you’ve ever watched Vampire Diaries, then you’ve probably heard of Vervain. For the rest of the world, Vervain is a purple plant with numerous benefits that include improved mood, aiding digestion and headaches, reducing PMS and menopause symptoms, poisoning a vampire, and insomnia.

Few clinical trials have been done to test Vervain’s health benefits, so this is one of those, hey this worked for me and a bunch of other people on the internet, maybe it’ll work for you kinda things. I mean, it’s not poisonous to humans, so at the very least, it’ll do nothing but leave a bitter taste in your mouth and protect you from being compelled by a vampire.

**Unless, you’re pregnant or breastfeeding (or a vamp…you get it). According to WebMD, there isn’t enough evidence to determine what sort of effects Vervain could have on preggos – so, that’s your call.

Where to buy

For your tea-party-slumber-party, go with Common Vervain or Blue Vervain. They have similar benefits, including the sleep-inducing function. But for some reason, neither are as easy to find in the United States as they were for me in the UK. If you do a Google search for Vervain here, you’re mostly redirected to Lemon Verbena, which is not the same thing as Vervain.

Lemon Verbena and Vervain are two entirely different plants, semi-related only by being in the same family of Verbenaceae plants, along with some 250+ other verbena plants. I don’t fully understand the whole genus, family, species plant world myself, which is fine because it’s not super relevant here other than to say that Common Vervain (verbena officianalis) and Blue Vervain (verbena hastata) are not equivalent to Lemon Verbena (aloysia citrodora).

Lemon Verbena, get the fffffff out.

So, where can you get the real stuff in the US? You can get Blue Vervain loose leaf herb from Mountain Rose Herbs. You can also get it in the Tea Tonix Be Happy blend, and the Be Sleepy blend mentioned above.

But honestly, if it’s too much drama finding Vervain teabags or loose leaf here in the US (and it kinda is), you could just say fuck it, and get it in capsule form here or tincture form here. If you really want tea, you could always squirt some tincture into a mug of hot water, and pretend it’s tea just like Lemon Verbena pretends it’s Vervain.

Catnip

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Thought it was just for cats?

Nope – catnip has a number of benefits for humans, although it doesn’t get us high as a kite like our feline friends. Benefits of drinking catnip include easing anxiety, indigestion, and – yep – insomnia.

Where to buy

Celebration Herbals Catnip Leaf & Blossom teabags are a good bet. There isn’t specific listing of the amount of catnip per teabag, but dividing the net weight (30g) by the number of teabags (24) gives you 1.25 grams of catnip per bag – which is a nifty number of grams. You can also find catnip in the Tea Tonix Be Sleepy blend.

Kava Kava Root

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Kava kava is a plant native to the Pacific Islands, where it is drank both ceremoniously and recreationally like alcohol. According to the National Institute of Health, it has similar effects to alcohol, such as euphoria and relaxation, but brings them about without impairing cognitive and sensory awareness.

Among it’s many possible benefits, research has shown Kava can reduce symptoms of anxiety and be used to treat stress-induced insomnia.

Be aware that Kava does have a list of potential side effects, including liver toxicity when taken as a dietary supplement, namely in cases of frequent use at high doses (aka overuse) or when mixed with alcohol and/or other medications that can affect the liver. As of 2002, 25 cases of liver toxicity associated with Kava intake had been reported across Germany, Switzerland, the UK, Canada, and France. Since then, there appears to be between 50-100 cases reported.

For context: in 2014, the number of deaths from alcohol-induced liver disease was 19,388 in the United States alone. But, as always, do your own research, check for drug interactions with any current medications, talk to your doctor, drink in moderation, and never forget that I’m just a girl on the internet with a Google Scholar tab and not a healthcare professional.

Where to buy

If you want Kava in a big dose (maybe you suffer from severe anxiety and insomnia), go for the Buddha Kava Kava Root Tea. It has 1.3 grams of Kava per teabag. As a general sleep aid, I personally like to go for a Kava-inclusive tea blend, such as Be Sleepy loose leaf (see above) or the Yogi Kava Stress Relief Tea, which contains a much milder dose of 78 mg.

Conclusion

I hope this can help you find the sleeping beauty slumber you’ve been searching for.

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There is no sunrise so beautiful that it is worth waking me up to see it.

Mindy Kaling, Is Everyone Hanging Out With Me?

ADHD is Not a Learning Disability

ADHD is Not a Learning Disability

5 min read

ADHD is a mental illness.

You may not agree, and I could hardly blame you. It’s not like you ever see attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) classed alongside major depression (MDD), post-traumatic stress (PTSD), generalized anxiety (GAD), bipolar, borderline personality (BPD), or schizophrenia. You know, the real mental illnesses.

Maybe you think that’s because it’s not a mental illness; it’s a learning disability. It’s not, though. Not according to the Learning Disabilities Association of America or the National Institute of Mental Health or the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (p. 21). You can read more about ADHD not being a learning disability here or here or here or here.

I’m not saying mental illness and learning disabilities can’t be related or equally present; I’m just saying they aren’t the same thing. If you want to know more about learning disabilities, you can do so here.

***Full disclosure checkpoint***

I’m not a mental health professional. SuRpRiSe. I’m just a regular old person presenting an argument based on personal research and experience with adult ADHD (or adult ADD). You have the prerogative to deny my claims and dismiss this post. But before you do, I hope you’ll check out some of the sources I’ve linked because you don’t have the prerogative to dismiss science.

What is mental illness?

According to the American Psychiatric Association, the term mental illness “refers collectively to all diagnosable mental disorders – health conditions, involving

  • Significant changes in thinking, emotion and/or behavior
  • Distress and/or problems functioning in social, work or family activities.” [1]

The Mayo Clinic describes adult-ADHD as a “mental health disorder that includes a combination of persistent problems such as difficulty paying attention, hyperactivity and impulsive behavior…[and] can lead to unstable relationships, poor work or school performance, low self-esteem, and other problems.” [2]

Adult-ADHD is a mental illness.

Trigger warning: I acknowledge that labels and classifications – especially, those pertaining to mental health or mental-not-so-healthy – are useful to some and not so useful to others. If you’ve been diagnosed with ADHD and the idea of it being considered a mental illness is triggering to you, don’t read past this paragraph. I’m not trying to upset you or convince you to think about your condition in a certain way. Obviously, how you do or don’t define yourself and your experience is between you and your doctor, and nothing to do with me.

For those of you still with me, hey.

Adult-ADHD is a mental illness.

So, why is there so much grey area? Why is adult-ADHD so commonly thought of as a learning disability? Why is it so rarely included in groupings of mental illness? Why is it being denied public recognition as one of the big crazies?

Why.

I don’t actually know. No one seems to know what to do with adult-ADHD.

Is it a jam, a jelly, a marmalade, or a spread???

Maybe adult-ADHD just floats in its own sphere of existence, neither mental illness nor learning disability, but simply “other health impairment.” A mental enigma.

WRONG.

Adult-ADHD is a mental illness, but for all intents and purposes, isn’t recognized as one. This is a problem because if we don’t acknowledge adult-ADHD to its full extent, then we risk dismissing and downplaying the challenges of those who live with it. You might think ADHD already gets the attention it deserves. Everyone’s heard of it. All the kids have it. All the college kids want it (well, the meds for it). Everyone has trouble focusing sometimes. We’re all a little ADHD, right?

WRONG.

This is exactly why adult-ADHD needs to be acknowledged for the mental illness it is. It’s not just a noisy kid or a scatter-brained adult. It’s a mental illness.

Adult-ADHD comes with learning challenges, but it also comes with emotional and behavioral issues, and in many cases, a nifty cohort of comorbidity. If neglected, these issues can escalate and lead to negative consequences, inability to effectively function in daily life, and exacerbate other health conditions.

Adult-ADHD requires the same amount of care and understanding as any other mental illness. It does not deserve to be treated like bipolar’s third step-cousin once removed. You know, sort of in the family, but not actually related, so you can feel okay about bumping it down to table 6.

No, no, no, no. ADHD is a mental illness as much as major depression, anxiety disorder, and bipolar.

Now, I can’t speak for anyone else, but I can speak about my personal experience with adult-ADHD. And it feels a hella lot like something that causes significant changes in thinking, emotion, and/or behavior that can lead to distress and/or problems functioning in social, work or family activities.

So, what does adult-ADHD feel like?

It feels like being in a tiny room while a thousand bouncy balls shoot all around you at the speed of bullets. You’re expected to catch them all and organize them by color in ten minutes. Everyone else can do it, so why can’t you?

ADHD is sitting in a classroom while the professor explains that birds fly and fish swim, and some animals fly and swim. Should be fine, except, PLOT TWIST, the professor is speaking in tongues and writing on the board in obsolete Anglo-Saxon hieroglyphs.

ADHD is needing to return an email that requires three sentences at most, what should be a mundane, thoughtless task, but the thought of it creates such overwhelming anxiety that you put it off for days, inducing guilt and further anxiety. In many cases, the email is important, and neglecting it creates further negative consequences such as late payments or missed opportunities, and you end up hating yourself.

ADHD is being late to every appointment because your general absent-mindedness has you so paranoid about forgetting something that you’re too paralyzed to leave the house.

ADHD is having to choose between looking someone in the eye or processing what they’re saying.

ADHD is being unable to get out of bed, make breakfast, or get dressed because you forgot to refill your medication, and now your brain is deficient and improperly utilizing the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine.

ADHD is sitting down at your computer to get an hour’s worth of work done, then remembering you need to wash your hands. You may as well grab those dirty socks and toss them in the laundry on your way back.

And take those coffee mugs to the dishwasher.

Wash your hands again.

Replace the toilet paper.

Add soap to the shopping list.

Grab a drink from the fridge.

Add apples to the shopping list.

All the while, you’re desperate to sit at your desk and start your work, but you can’t because the motor inside you is driving you everywhere but where you need to go. And you’re not in control of the wheel.

Sometimes this is the bit that people struggle to understand about mental illness, the bit they can’t see. That sometimes we’re not in control of the wheel, and there’s nothing we can do about it.

How about we agree right now to stop treating adult-ADHD like the virgin daiquiri of mental illness? It’s packed full of tequila-rum and hangovers like the rest of them. So, let’s start acknowledging it for what it is.

ADHD is just a mental illness standing in front of the world, asking it to love her.

**Note: Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is another one that I think deserves some greater respect and understanding. It’s not just light switches, faucets, and meticulously organized desks.

Homemade Essential Oil Moisturizer that Benefits Every Skin Type

Homemade Essential Oil Moisturizer that Benefits Every Skin Type

You knew this was coming. You can’t read posts about skincare and not have essential oils shoved in your face. Not in this day and age. And while my life’s work is to avoid being basic in every way, the truth is…I’m basic. I have a pair of grey Uggs that aren’t even real Uggs. They’re some random knock-off brand that look and feel shitty. My point is, I ride the essential oil train with the rest of them. Know why?

  1. I’m basic
  2. Essential oils are fucking fantastic.

That’s right.

Essential oils are fantastic.

Come on. They smell good, feel good, address certain ailments, improve your skin, and some even taste good. You can wear them as a perfume, mix them into your lotion, or add a few drops to your humidifier or vaporizer to freshen up your home instead of burning overpriced and potentially harmful candles.

Plus, essential oils offer a whole host of wellness gifts. Aromatherapy has been shown to support healthy moods, minimize stress, and help relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression (but, like, don’t get carried away – you should definitely call up your doctor if you’re thinking of tossing out your antidepressants because you bought some lavender oil at Whole Foods).

All I’m really trying to say is that essential oils are fantastic, okay.

But you didn’t come here for a comprehensive overview of all the ways essential oils RULE. You came here for fabulous skin, and you’re going to get it.

Essential Oil Moisturizer Combo

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Okay, so this is a special gathering of the essential oil skin society because everyone is welcome. Dry skin, oily skin, normal skin – doesn’t matter. Whether you’re looking to improve elasticity, reduce wrinkles, clear acne, smooth blemishes, or just give your skin a sweet blast of hydration, you’re in for a treat. This recipe has something for everyone.

Because essential oils are fucking fantastic.

Tea Tree + Rosehip + Rose Geranium = Bliss

Tea Tree

Tea tree oil is antibacterial, antimicrobial, antiviral, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory – so, basically the AR-15 of essential oils. It’s great for acne and irritation, and better for eczema than zinc oxide. And guess what? It works for dry skin and oily skin. I tend to be an oily-skinned grease monster. If you have oily skin like me, then you may have thought it best to steer clear of putting oil on top of oil on top of oil. But actually, tea tree oil reduces oiliness and pore size. It really is an elixir straight from the clouds of Mt. Olympus (no source for that, but I know what I know). Tea tree oil should never be applied directly to the skin, so unless you want to end up like Viserys Targaryen, you’re going to need a carrier oil.

Rosehip

Rosehip oil is the color of sun drops and the most beautiful flower dew mountain of carrier oils. It actually comes from the fruit of a rosebush (who knew rose bushes produced edible fruit? Not me). My face goes through some sort of Benjamin Button transition after I apply it because I swear I’m momentarily made of baby skin. Rosehip is packed with hydrating fatty acids and antioxidants, with Vitamin A and anti-inflammatory properties. In 2015, a clinical study published in Clinical Interventions in Aging reported that 8 weeks of treatment with rosehip oil “showed statistically significant improvements”[2] in wrinkles, crows-feet, skin moisture, and elasticity. And, like, it does. Trust me. I mean, if the science wasn’t enough to convince you.

Rose Geranium

Rose geranium oil is extracted from rose-scented geranium plants. Studies have shown it to have anti-inflammatory properties, which can reduce eye puffiness and signs of aging. It also has anti-fungal properties. And it gives off a great fragrance meaning you can wear this sweet three-oil moisturizer as a perfume too.

But honestly, the rose geranium is disposable. I just like it. I think it adds to the recipe, but you can toss it if you only want to pay for two oils. Tea tree + Rosehip = done deal.

What to buy

I use Zongle Therapeutics Tea Tree and Rose Geranium oils. Previously, I used their Rosehip Oil too and would totally recommend it. Recently, I switched to Teddie Organics Rosehip Oil because I’m a child of the Millenial revolution, and when I ran out of my most recent bottle, I wanted the new bottle to arrive with Prime delivery speed. I wanted it now, okay. So, after scrutinizing what Amazon had to offer, I settled on Teddie and never looked back.

Of course, there are tons of quality essential oil brands out there. There’s also a lot of garbage. In my experience, USDA approved organic brands tend to be reliable, so I would start there. Both the Zongle tea tree and rose geranium were extracted using steam distillation, which is fine, but if you’re looking for something as close as possible to the chemical composition of the plant from which it was extracted, look for essential oils that use CO2 extraction. Cold-press extraction is great for fruits, particularly citrus peels. Both the Teddie and Zongle rosehips are cold-pressed. You can find out more about extraction methods here.

A final perk of using essential oils as a moisturizer is that they last so long. I bought my rose geranium six months ago, and I’ve only used about half – and that’s in the small 15 ml bottle. You buy a 4 oz bottle of tea tree oil, and that’s it. You’re done. Set for life.

Method

Drop the oil straight into your palm and swirl in around with your finger. Don’t get fancy with a Petri dish. It’s not worth it.

Morning

6-7 drops rosehip

3 drops tea tree

2 drops rose geranium

Rub into face.

Note: if you’re putting on makeup straight after, good. It makes it look so much better. However, since the oils are so fresh, you could look a little shiny, so it might be worth investing in a softening, anti-shine primer. My favorite is Revlon Photoready Perfecting Primer.

Evening

5-6 drops rosehip, 3-4 drops tea tree, rub into face.

5-6 drops rosehip, 2-3 drops rose geranium, rub into face.

Keep rubbing until your skin feels as smooth as a Benjamin Button.

Note: you may need to alter the number of drops depending on what brands you use and what suits your face.

Conclusion

That’s it. That’s all I wanted to tell you. Combine tea tree, rosehip, and rose geranium, and you’ve got yourself a great moisturizer. Probably could have told you that in 50 words or less. But where’s the fun in that?

Anyway, I hope you’ll try this out so we can share the benefits of having Aphrodite-Apollo sunstar face skin. Otherwise known as the curious case of Benjamin Button.

References

[1] Phetcharat, L et al. “The effectiveness of a standardized rose hip powder, containing seeds and shells of Rosa canina, on cell longevity, skin wrinkles, moisture, and elasticity.” Clinical interventions in aging vol. 10 1849-56. 19 Nov. 2015, doi:10.2147/CIA.S90092