What are Natural Sedatives?

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  • Written By: Susan Grindstaff
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 07 November 2019
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Natural sedatives primarily consist of herbal remedies and techniques that help promote relaxation. Herbal supplements believed to help promote sleep include chamomile, kava, melatonin and valerian. Relaxation therapies commonly used as natural sedatives include massage, yoga, and meditation. In addition, many people find that changes in diet can sometimes help them achieve sleep.

Kava was once considered one of the most popular natural sedatives. In most studies, the herb did seem to have a positive effect, but because it can sometimes cause serious side effects, the remedy has become much less popular. In some users, kava can cause liver damage, sometimes so severe that a liver transplant is necessary.

Valerian is an herb made from the root of the valerian plant. It is available as a supplement from most health food stores and pharmacies. It has been used for centuries as a natural sleep aid, and recent studies found few serious side effects associated with its use. It is considered non-addictive and generally safe for use. Unlike many sedatives, valerian usually does not cause grogginess when waking.


Melatonin is a hormone that is produced by the brain as light begins to diminish, and is believed to be one of the body’s natural sleep triggers. When melatonin is produced in adequate amounts, people usually begin to feel sleepy. Some people who suffer from insomnia may not be producing enough melatonin, and taking it as a supplement may help them become sleepy. Melatonin is available without a prescription.

Chamomile and passionflower are similar type plants, and both are largely considered safe, effective natural sedatives. Both have been the subject of a great deal of medical research that generally supports their use. Chamomile and passionflower are usually consumed as teas, but can also be taken in capsule form. Most users seem to prefer chamomile over passionflower. In addition to being slightly more effective, chamomile also has a light, pleasant flavor.

Relaxation techniques seem to work well as natural sedatives. Yoga is one of the more popular techniques, but usually requires several days of therapy before producing results. Other techniques include massage therapy, aromatherapy, and meditation.

Some cases of insomnia could be the result of serious medical conditions. People who suffer frequent episodes of insomnia should probably consult with their physician. Some medical conditions that often cause sleeplessness include cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.


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