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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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April 09, 2013

6 Tea Ingredients That Can Help You Unwind, Relax and Chill Out

By Mark Sisson
145 Comments

TeaA popular product class is the “sleepy time” tea. These are the teas which purport to help you unwind from a rough day, relax in the midst of exterior (or interior) chaos, and chill out in a state of relatively peaceful bliss. Many of us live in a state of constant stress punctuated by bouts of acute but transient ease of mind, when it should be the other way around (constant ease of mind punctuated by bouts of acute but transient stress), and these teas and their ingredients claim to help you correct the imbalance. But supplement manufacturers say a lot of things, not all of them true.

What works? What actually helps you ease troubled thoughts? What’s actually worth your money and the time it takes to brew a cup of hot water?

For those who balk at the idea of supplementing an otherwise solid Primal eating plan, don’t be so hasty in your dismissal. Modern life presents novel stressor after novel stressor after novel stressor. Not all of us spend blissed out lives at the beach, or on a remote mountaintop communing with nature, or floating through life on a cloud of bodhisattva farts. Life is hard and often unpleasant, and we don’t get a lot of downtime these days. Smart use of select herbs and roots with anxiolytic, calming, soothing, relaxing properties can go a long way toward restoring the Primal balance between active engagement with the hectic world and passive downtime. The way I see it is if we’re trying to emulate the physiological, psychological, and spiritual state of human being established as “normal” by natural selection, we may have to take a few extra steps to get there. Humans don’t do very well under chronic stress, so mitigating supraphysiological stress by supraphysiological means (whether through meditation or chamomile or taking a plane to Hawaii) makes sense and is unabashedly Primal.

Ultimately, it’s about feeling better and improving our health, no matter the means. I go with what works, regardless of some kind of ideology, using our human evolutionary heritage as a starting point and utilizing the best of 21st century technology to get real results with the least amount of pain, suffering and sacrifice as possible.

Now, let’s take a look at some of these so-called stress relief tea ingredients:

Kava Kava

What is it?

Kava is a crop grown in the South Pacific. Traditionally, its roots were chewed fresh (with the resultant liquid often spit into communal bowls), pounded to release the moisture, or sun-dried, ground, and steeped in water to make an intoxicating, relaxing mild sedative. Nowadays, the active kavalactones are also extracted and pressed into capsules.

History?

Most Pacific cultures used kava, including those of Hawaii, Polynesia, Tonga, Fiji, and Papua New Guinea (to name a few).

What is it purported to do?

It’s supposed to reduce anxiety, induce calmness, cause sedation without mental impairment, and generally chill a person out.

Does the research back that up?

Yes. A Cochrane review concluded that kava extract is effective against anxiety, while another review found that kava has no significant negative effects on cognition.

Is it safe?

There appears to be some concern toward hepatotoxicity. The tendency of some supplement makers to use the leaves and sticks (which contain toxins) to increase yield may lead to hepatotoxicity, but the root itself appears reasonably safe. Preparation may also matter; traditionally, kava is prepared with water, whereas modern processing often uses alcohol. Water-based kava preparations extract different proportions of active compounds than alcohol-based kava preparations. For instance, water extracts glutathione (a powerful antioxidant that our bodies manufacture) from kava, whereas alcohol does not, and this could have ramifications for toxicity. Like many other psychoactive compounds, though, kava root should not be consumed with alcohol, prescription drugs, or any other substance which stresses the liver. Kava Kava root itself is non habit forming, and does not appear to impair driving ability.

Where to find it?

Amazon.com has several options available (here, here, or here if you prefer extracts), but there are also designated online vendors. Make sure you stick with actual root (dried, ground, whole, or fresh) or supplements that only use the root and not the leaves.

L-Theanine

What is it?

An amino acid found in tea leaves, especially green tea.

History?

It’s technically been around for thousands of years, or as long as people have been harvesting and brewing tea (and even longer, unless you answer in the negative to “If green tea grows in the forest and nobody brews it, does it still impart a healthy dose of L-theanine?”), but it wasn’t until 1949 that L-theanine was isolated and identified by Japanese scientists who proceeded to stick it into a variety of different products.

What is it purported to do?

L-theanine is promoted as a stress-relieving compound that binds to GABA receptors and induces changes in brain waves indicative of relaxation.

Does the research back that up?

Yes, it appears to lower the negative effects of stress, reduce anxiety, and improve relaxation, as a quick look at the literature shows:

Is it safe?

The LD50 of L-theanine is incredibly high and impossible to reach via tea and nearly impossible to reach via supplement (you’d have to take dozens of bottles or drink hundreds of gallons).

Where to find it?

It’s richest in green tea, with matcha appearing to have the highest L-theanine content. Taking L-theanine via capsule is roughly the same as taking it via tea. It’s also present in Primal Calm.

Chamomile

What is it?

A flowering plant similar to the daisy that can be infused in hot water to produce a relaxing, calming tea.

History?

The use of chamomile as a medicinal herb dates back at least to the ancient Egyptians. In medieval Europe, chamomile was a “strewing herb” (herbs which were strewn about the floor of living spaces), a beer-making ingredient, and one of the Nine Sacred Herbs used by Anglo-Saxon god Woden (or Odin in Norse mythology) to “smote the serpent.” In other words, it was pretty dang significant to people throughout history.

What is it purported to do?

Act as a mild sedative and anti-anxiety agent.

Does the research back that up?

Yes, several studies show efficacy:

Is it safe?

It’s pretty safe, with a couple exceptions: pregnant women, for whom chamomile can induce uterine contractions (PDF), potentially leading to early labor; and people with ragweed allergies, for whom chamomile can exhibit cross-reactivity symptoms.

Where to find it?

Chamomile tea, being one of the more common varieties, is easy to find. This is a legit brand, or you could grow your own. Chamomile provides attractive (and useful) ground cover for your garden.

Valerian Root

What is it?

It’s a root, obviously, most often served up as dried powder in capsules, a tea, or a tincture. The plant itself has lovely flowers and leaves that resemble ferns, but it’s the root and rhizome we’re interested in.

History?

Ayurvedic, Chinese, and classical Hellenic medical systems employed valerian as an anti-insomnia and anti-anxiety medicine. More recently, it was prescribed to Edward Norton’s insomniac character in Fight Club (“chew some valerian root”). I can’t remember if it was in the book, too.

What is it purported to do?

It’s said to be a mild but effective sedative, anxiolytic, and sleep aid, akin to the benzodiazepine class of drugs without the side effects.

Does the research back that up?

Kinda. There are a few studies, but the results are mixed:

  • Among patients with generalized anxiety disorder, valerian extract has an anxiolytic effect on the “psychic symptoms of anxiety.”
  • Valerian may be effective against obsessive compulsive disorder.
  • Among insomniacs, valerian extract improves the “sleep efficiency,” reducing morning grogginess and improving sleep architecture. Another study, using lower amounts of valerian, did not get the same results.
  • A 2006 meta-analysis was unable to decide whether or not it was effective against anxiety, however. Another review concluded that valerian “might improve sleep quality without producing side effects,” while a more recent one (of just RCTs) found it likely to improve subjective insomnia symptoms.

Overall, the weight of the anecdotal evidence, my own experience with it, and the fact that some, but not all, clinical trials find efficacy, leads me to the tentative conclusion that valerian can be useful against anxiety and maybe insomnia.

Is it safe?

Valerian is safe, well-tolerated, and seems to have fewer side effects than pharmaceutical sedatives and anti-anxiety meds. Pregnant women should avoid it due to a lack of safety studies.

Where to find it?

Any health food store should carry the capsules and the tea, and perhaps even the whole or ground root. Online is always an option, of course. I recommend buying the root direct.

Rhodiola Rosea

What is it?

Also known as rose root or arctic root, rhodiola rosea hails from Siberia originally and pretty much everywhere else that’s cold – the Arctic, the Rockies, Northern Europe, the mountains of central Asia – and possesses a root with interesting characteristics.

History?

Ancient Greeks, Viking raiders, Central Asian horsemen, Chinese emperors – they all prized rhodiola rosea as an anti-fatigue, anti-stress medicinal herb.

What is it purported to do?

Act as a powerful adaptogen, a compound which improves your ability to adapt to physiological stressors without compromising your body’s normal ability to function once removed.

Does the research back that up?

Definitely. Although most of the research comes from Scandinavia and Russia, there are a good number of trials available on Pubmed:

Overall, rhodiola rosea improves your ability to handle stress. If you’re lagging, it’ll bring things up. If you’re freaking out, it’ll bring you closer to baseline.

Is it safe?

It seems to be extremely safe.

Where to find it?

Primal Calm has it, as do plenty of other products. You can even buy it in bulk.

Magnolia Bark

What is it?

Magnolia bark is the lay name for magnolia officinalis, a deciduous tree whose bark is prized in traditional Chinese medicine.

History?

People have been using the bark for its medicinal qualities as far back as 100 AD.

What is it purported to do?

It gets billed as a sedative with strong anti-anxiety and anti-stress effects.

Does the research back that up?

For the most part, yes:

Is it safe?

While there are no long-term safety studies, trials indicate an extreme paucity of negative side effects. As always, exercise caution if you’re pregnant.

Where to find it?

I use it in Primal Calm. Chinese herb stores will have it (if you’ve got a Chinatown in your city, you can probably find it there).

Some teas blend some or all of these (and other) ingredients, so not only are you getting the dozens of bioactive compounds found in this herb, root, or rhizome, you’re getting the hundreds of bioactive compounds found in these other herbs, roots, and rhizomes. Plus, one ingredient might potentiate, inhibit, or otherwise modify the action of another ingredient, so it’s difficult to predict exactly what you’ll be getting out of a blend. Take valerian and lemon balm, which combine to become an effective anti-anxiety blend against acute stress.

With the possible exception of kava kava, though, I wouldn’t worry too much about any interactions – and even with kava, it seems reasonably safe as long as you’re smart and moderate about it while avoiding alcohol and other compounds with a liver load.

That’s it for this week, folks. Next week, I’ll explore some other helpful ingredients in tea. Thanks for reading!

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145 Comments on "6 Tea Ingredients That Can Help You Unwind, Relax and Chill Out"

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Wenchypoo
Wenchypoo
3 years 5 months ago

I use L-theanine supplements on my husband (a natural-born Type A personality,complete with excess cortisol), and my cat (also a Type A with excess cortisol issues)–both run on the “fight” side of fight-or-flight. Both spouse and cat are much calmer and easier to deal with in the mornings.

jinushaun
jinushaun
3 years 5 months ago

There’s no question about what kava does. It puts you to sleep like marijuana does while numbing your face/mouth. Travel books warn young single ladies about drinking too much of it while traveling alone in the south Pacific.

Trish
Trish
3 years 5 months ago

I agree, in Australia the Aboriginals in some communities use kava to excess , it has A LOT of negative effects (a main one being liver problems), possibly due to the fact it is used to excess and with alcohol. That is one herb I’ll be steering well clear of.

Harry Mossman
3 years 5 months ago

Our earliest ancestors may not have been able to make tea, but I’m sure they did chew stuff like this. I definitely will try some of these.

Harry Mossman
3 years 5 months ago

Actually, I have tried chamomile and valerian in the past and didn’t like the taste or effect.

Potato
Potato
3 years 5 months ago

Chamomile is good blended with other herbs, valerian smells like sweat socks and tastes the same 🙂

Jen
Jen
3 years 5 months ago

As an herbalist, I use some of these regularly. Long tradition shows that kava, chamomile and valerian have relaxing effects in various cultures. Be careful with valerian as it can have the opposite affect in some people. It’s the only nervine that has a “warming” effect. If you already have a hot constitution, valerian can aggrevate that and really keep your mind going non-stop.

I also like lemon balm, lavender, rose, skullcap and california poppy for relaxation. All are very safe.

basilcronus
basilcronus
3 years 5 months ago

If a Bodhisattva farts in the woods, does a tree hear it?

jen
jen
3 years 5 months ago

LMAO. Just finished a weekend retreat and this comment was perfect.

Mary
Mary
3 years 5 months ago

I would like to drink more tea (I love oolong especially), but I’ve been told that people with underactive thyroid conditions should not drink true tea because it is goitrogenic. I have done a bit of research, but am still confused about whether the benefits outweigh the risks. If anyone has any info, I would love to hear it.

Erin
3 years 5 months ago
From what I understand, it’s the catechins in green tea that are goitrogenic, but you’d still have to drink high amounts to get the goitrogenic effect, so go ahead and have that oolong. Oolong and other black teas aren’t going to have the high amounts that green and white tea have. On another note: most hypothyroidism in the US is of the autoimmune variety, and the majority of it is in the form of TH1 cell-mediated immune dominance. Tea is a potent TH2 humoral immunity stimulant that can balanced out the immune system for TH1 dominant autoimmune conditions, so for… Read more »
Trish
Trish
3 years 5 months ago

Thank you Erin that is interesting. I have an autoimmune condition that will eventually kill me and I am always wary of boosting my immune function, are all auto immune conditions TH1 dominant (and therfore will green tea help me)?

Sherry
Sherry
3 years 5 months ago
I reversed my autoimmune thyroid problems with a Primal diet. This was before I even knew there was such a diet. I avoided all grains and dairy because I didn’t like how I felt after eating them. I ate whole foods. I exercised and now I no longer have the autoimmune factor. I still need my natural thyroid meds (no synthetics for me, thank you). But I’m working with virgin coconut oil to potentially reduce or eliminate these meds all together. Don’t give in to traditional medicines thoughts about terminal illness. Many people have survived and thrived through dietary changes.… Read more »
Steve
Steve
3 years 5 months ago

Can these products be inhaled?

charlotte
charlotte
3 years 5 months ago

erowid.org

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
3 years 5 months ago

We used to have a kava bar where I grew up in South Florida- that stuff was great. It really does numb your mouth and lips after you drink it. I’ve recently been interested in getting back into it, but I’ve been too concerned about the hepatotoxicity… not because I think it’ll actually poison me, but because my acupuncturist tells me that my liver is out of whack and I don’t want to stress it out even further!

Dizzy
Dizzy
3 years 5 months ago

Just FYI- check with your acupuncturist- the Liver (Livah as my British prof says, not to confuse it with biomedical liver) is more of an energetic concept. It’s NOT the same thing as the liver in Western medicine. If your acupuncturist told you your “liver” was “out of whack” it’s quite possible that your body is experiencing various effects from stress and/or emotions. But then hopefully your acupuncturist gave you some herbs already to help with that. FWIW.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
3 years 5 months ago

Thanks, Dizzy; I’m well aware of that fact (have been self-educating about oriental medicine for several years now, and in the process of filling out applications to acu schools), I was just simplifying my comment :-p

Steven
Steven
3 years 5 months ago

I have tried kava kava, valerian root and chamomile but none of these seem to have much effect on me.

Joe
Joe
3 years 5 months ago

Mark’s suggestions on diet and exercise have yielded wonderful results for me.
(Thank you Mark).
One remaining issue for me is that when I can’t sleep, I take 25mg Diphenhydramine.
Any thoughts on a healthier option?

Hilary
Hilary
3 years 5 months ago

I use melatonin and an eye mask. I start with 3 mg and sometimes take 6 mg.

Animanarchy
Animanarchy
3 years 5 months ago

I don’t think diphenedhydramine is worth taking. I’ve exeeded the recommended dose and it resulted in me having to stay awake in uncomfortable, sluggish deleriurium.

Animanarchy
Animanarchy
3 years 5 months ago

It’s a zombiedrug.

Heidi
3 years 5 months ago

I’ve found that taking a 500 mg magnesium supplement with dinner really, really helps me both get to sleep and stay asleep.
Melatonin also works, but you need to take it regularly for it to have an effect (i.e. the first few times you take it, you probably won’t feel a difference). I save melatonin for times when I know I’ll be very stressed and busy.

Dawn
Dawn
3 years 5 months ago
Be careful with melatonin, if not used correctly it can create a long term boomerang effect, and the vast majority of users use it incorrectly. Only in rare circumstances should it be taken in the evening, and even then only once or twice. In order to be helpful in adjusting sleep cycles, it should be taken in the morning, carefully timed based on preferred sleep schedule. A Board Certified Sleep Medicine doc is most likely to have accurate info on this. According to the AASM, the vast majority of medical and alternative medical professionals in this country are prescribing it… Read more »
TerriAnn
TerriAnn
3 years 5 months ago

isnt 500 mg a little high? ive read not to take over 350 mg

Jeff
Jeff
3 years 5 months ago

buy paul mckennas book
“I can make you sleep”.
Better than any medication.
Changed my life !!!!!!!
DO THE EXERCISES and reap the results

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[…] Daily Apple / Posted on: April 09, 2013 Mark’s Daily Apple – A popular product class is the “sleepy time” tea. These are the teas which […]

RenegadeRN
RenegadeRN
3 years 5 months ago

This was so not the article I anticipated! Lol.
I drink a cup of black tea every single morning like others reach for the coffee cup! I thought Mark would be discussing teas that actually taste good, such as green, black, white, matcha, etc.
I consider the herbals he mentions medicines, not an enjoyable cup of tea. Valerian smells like dirty feet or smelly socks! Blech.

Rebecca
Rebecca
3 years 5 months ago

I love tea!! I have not tried the above teas/roots, aside from green tea, but I may have to look into this since I tend to take a long time to relax from my day. Some of these before bed might work well. 🙂 Thanks for posting Mark.

Mark
Mark
3 years 5 months ago

Right now I drink Celestial Seasonings Tension Tamer. Can anyone recommend some teas that have any or all of these? Thanks. 🙂

Hilary
Hilary
3 years 5 months ago

My favorite tea is Yogi Calming tea with licorice root, *chamomile*, gotu kola, hibiscus, fennel, lemongrass, cardamom, orange peel, rose hips, and lavendar.

Another good tea is Tazo Rest which contains rose petals, honeybush, orange peel, lemon verbena, lemon balm, lemon peel, licorice root, *valerian root*, ginger, and lavendar.

Jared
2 years 2 months ago

Will these teas work in the morning, relax and calm you but NOT make you feel really tired?

Pam
Pam
3 years 5 months ago

Traditional Medicinals, my favorite brand, has three different relaxation formulas, as well as Chamomile, and a Chamomile/Lavender blend which is delicious.
http://www.traditionalmedicinals.com/products/relaxation-teas

Jst
Jst
3 years 5 months ago

What about cannabis? Not just seeds, but the plant itself is supposed to be edible. Also, there is growing evidence that many early cultures used psychedelic plants to enhance their consciousness and creativity and so on… Yeah, article about that would be great on this site. Great.

JohnC
JohnC
3 years 5 months ago

🙂 That to me has always been the giant elephant in the room that no one talks about here. To be honest if they did it would probably be very disappointing because there is so much mis-information out there about it I doubt you’d ever see anything worthwhile. Even in this thread one guys said it makes you sleepy, well it *can* make you sleepy if it’s a sleepy strain, it can also make you wide eyed and powerfully energetic if it’s another kind of strain.

Jst
Jst
3 years 5 months ago

Exactly! A giant elephant in the room. 🙂 And yeah, different strains for different “pains”…. Hehe..

jessica
jessica
3 years 5 months ago

I agree there is a lot of misinformation, but you have to admit there is also a lot of misuse of the herb that has caused such a stigma. which is too bad, I think in its more natural form, and breed for the proper qualities, it can be a very healing plant, especially when taken in extracted form.

I am fully on board the entheogenic train to higher consciousness though, with my utmost respect for the medicines and research for the benefit of others in mind of course :)!

Animanarchy
3 years 5 months ago
Generally illegal psychoactives that have some purely pleasurable effects may not be a good topic for Mark to discuss. He’s very influential in the field of health. I think if he wrote about the potential benefits of eating hash brownies, drinking cannabis tea, using a vaporizer, eating shrooms etc. some readers inexperienced in, ignorant of, or wary of that field might be appalled by his apparent acceptance of drugs. Others might just not like altering their state of mind and look at the information as a suggestion to do something stupid, or even worse, people who do like altering their… Read more »
Animanarchy
3 years 5 months ago

Here’s some links to check out regarding hemp herbs and friendly fungaliments.
http://www.collective-evolution.com/2013/01/03/cannabis-is-key-to-good-health-when-we-eat-it-vs-smoking-it/
http://www.collective-evolution.com/2013/04/08/marijuana-controls-seizure-activity/
http://www.collective-evolution.com/2013/04/06/the-healing-power-of-psychedelic-mushrooms/
I haven’t even read the last two articles fully. I’m pressed for time. Psilocybin-containing mushrooms have given me some of my best experiences though.

Animanarchy
Animanarchy
3 years 5 months ago

I should add.. some bad thinking, acting, feeling, and experiencing have come from drugs too.

TerriAnn
TerriAnn
3 years 5 months ago

i think an article about the benefits /side effects of marijauana would be great reading

Nocona
Nocona
3 years 5 months ago

I’ll stick with my coffee. I think tea tastes like dirty dishwater. The Kava Kava sounds interesting.

Cloudy
Cloudy
3 years 5 months ago

Kava powder is often ‘steeped’ in cold water ( actually wrapped in a cloth and hand washed/wrinced out into the water in a large bowl). The resulting drink tastes like you’ve taken a mud puddle, stirred it with a stick and fill a small bowl with this dirty water ( in fact dirty mud water wouldn’t be as distasteful as kava) – having said that over time you can get used to it and maybe even enjoy it 🙂

Lips go mildly numb but it takes quite a few bowls to get a mild relaxing effect when accustomed to it.

Jo
Jo
3 years 5 months ago

I actually do some design/web work for a tea company, (one of the perks is getting an unlimited supply of tea!) and this caught my eye as their approach is very much focussed on ‘rebalancing’ yourself with tea, making the most of the natural nutrients it provides.

It is a bit of a plug, but if anyone does fancy trying some new teas, http://attictea.com is the site. Genuinely lovely people too 🙂

Dennis
Dennis
3 years 5 months ago

Not for nothing, but none of those are teas. They are actually tisanes. Teas are thing that come from Teas leaves.
Lavender is a great calmer as well.

Hilary
Hilary
3 years 5 months ago

Excellent point, Dennis!

Debby
Debby
3 years 5 months ago

Teavanna has some excellent flavors of oolongs, green and white teas

Thomas
Thomas
3 years 5 months ago

My favorite tea company and tea experts are Tea Gallerie a San Diego company…… they have enhanced my desire for excellent tea…. I no longer drink coffee because of all the choices they have Maria and John the owners are VERY tea knowledgeable
Their Cherry Rose Tea is a relaxing blend.

Cliff
Cliff
3 years 5 months ago

I drink green tea everyday, and am now curious about combining it with rhodiola rosea. Are there any side effects I should worry about if/when combining these two herbs, and can RR be found in tea or capsule form. Also, how much RR should I consume in one day? Thanks!

JackieVB
JackieVB
3 years 5 months ago

I had been told by a Hormone Specialist to avoid Chamomile because it could cause a heart attack in Peri and Post menopausal women. I’m typing this during my lunch at work so don’t have time to research but maybe someone else has heard of this?

JohnC
JohnC
3 years 5 months ago

Sounds exactly backwards to me.

katja
3 years 5 months ago
This is pretty good stuff! Thanks, Mark, for including primal medicine in your blog 🙂 I’m a professional herbalist, and my partner and I run a clinic and a school in Boston. The Cochrane studies are useful for what they are, but they don’t staff professional herbalists, and so the information that they’re working with isn’t always complete. also they’re not always using herbal preparations – often they’re using isolated compounds in capsules, etc… So here are some extra thoughts: Herbs don’t work across the board like pharmaceuticals do. They work best when you match them up with the right… Read more »
Groking Around
Groking Around
3 years 5 months ago

Thanks for sharing, that was great!

bonnie
bonnie
3 years 5 months ago
thank you for this great summary, katja! I tried Kava Kava in capsule form on two separate occasions. Both times I had the most vivid, terrifying nightmares of my life. Needless to say, I threw it away, so I don’t know if it might have included leaves and stems. Not willing to give it another try. If I am one who keeps the lid on tight, I certainly don’t want to take it off like that again! Marijuanna also keeps me awake, and gives me strange ideas. I don’t get the allure of that one. I get great results with… Read more »
jen
jen
3 years 5 months ago

thank you SO much!

ADB71
ADB71
2 years 11 months ago
Thank you for the information. I agree, very helpful synopsis. I have spent close to 300 smackers on different combos for mental focus/anxiety/ and mild depression. Some of these do the reverse on me or not much at all. So far, Chamomile tea is effective for sleepiness, not for focus. I am trying to find a combination of Chamomile, L-Theanine, 5htp and a little Rhodiola. I know the Rhodiola can be activating, so I will cut back on my caffeine even more during the day. Im tired of trying things, and not having much luck. I can’t fall asleep, my… Read more »
Luke
3 years 5 months ago

While I know it’s just my personal experience I will say valerian root had done wonders for me with sleep!

ValerieH
ValerieH
3 years 5 months ago
I have had the same experience with Valerian root capsules. It helps me relax, fall asleep and stay asleep. I used to use it a lot. I like camomile tea but I don’t drink it all that much. It is a useful essential oil. In 2004, I started using brainwave meditation audios which put my brain in delta brainwave patterns. It helps me relax quite a bit and I have not relied on valerian. A lot of my frequent headaches went away as well. I used to carry aspirin my purse. Last week my husband asked me for some and… Read more »
Tom B-D
Tom B-D
3 years 5 months ago

A few years back I sought Traditional Chinese Medicine for tennis elbow, and the practitioner (accurately) diagnosed my high stress level and prescribed a Chinese herb mix translated as “Free and Easy Wanderer.” Between that, the acupuncture treatments, taking up daily t’ai chi, and switching from coffee to green tea, there was a huge calming effect (my employees were the first to notice, ha). I always wondered which of those four was the biggest influence…

ryn
3 years 5 months ago
as an herbalist, this list seems odd to me, because there are stimulants (green tea, rhodiola) listed next to sedatives (kava, chamomile, etc). a couple notes: chamomile is not going to negatively impact a pregnancy; this implication is frankly ridiculous. chamomile is a very mild herb and its effects are relaxant in nature. the reason these cautions around use of herbs in pregnancy turn up is because many herbs, via many different actions, can aid in bringing on a stalled period. this action is referred to as emmenagogue. in some herbs this is due to a stimulation of blood flow,… Read more »
halsey
halsey
3 years 5 months ago

What about magnesium – it has relaxed me so much, helps me sleep and calms anxiety. Just recently started a supplment (about two weeks now) and my life has changed.

Paleo Bon Rurgundy
3 years 5 months ago

Self experimenting, I found out that magnesium softens stool. Careful how much and WHEN you take it.

Nocona
Nocona
3 years 5 months ago

We don’t want to fall out of our chair…

Animanarchy
Animanarchy
3 years 5 months ago

Maybe that’s why my chocolate meals produce a muddy slop pile.

Greg
Greg
3 years 5 months ago

What type of magnesium do you take ? I find magnesium makes my dreams vivid so it feels like I haven’t slept. Even after decreasing the dose it hasn’t helped.

Nocona
Nocona
3 years 5 months ago

I mix my magnesium: half Natural Calm with half Pure Essence Labs Magnesium Plus.

Alyssa
Alyssa
3 years 5 months ago

That’s funny, because Valyrian steel is known to actually cause anxiety and insomnia.

Paleo Bon Rurgundy
3 years 5 months ago

ha!

Piper A R
Piper A R
3 years 5 months ago

Not to the one wielding it, but certainly to the one it’s pointed at.

Jack
3 years 5 months ago

I usually prefer coffee (with melted dark chocolate, grass-fed butter and Agave nectar), but I’ll give these a shot!

Nocona
Nocona
3 years 5 months ago

Sounds pretty good Jack, but watch out for the agave nectar, it is very bad for you!

mel
mel
3 years 5 months ago

good lord that sounds awesome! i’m gonna have some kava tonight and chase it with a decaf-chocolate-butter drink. 🙂

kathykathy
3 years 5 months ago

Can’t live without my Rhodiola. I don’t seem to feel stimulated as mentioned by Katja. I take a dose in am and pm before bed. I tend to be depressive and this is my go to supplement for that, as well as my regular weight training which I feel makes a huge difference in my recovery.

Amber
Amber
3 years 5 months ago
+1 about Valerian tasting like smelly feet! 😛 I had to hold my nose when I took those herbal capsules! I bought Yogi brand Kava Kava tea and was very surprised it worked. Tastes awesome with a little stevia and heavy cream, like dessert! I also drink tension tamer and it is calming. And I drink green matcha tea. I mix them up, so I don’t drink any one every single day, but I should probably try, since things around here have been a bit tense. Although if I drank them all, I would have to work in the “facilities”,… Read more »
Melissa
Melissa
3 years 5 months ago

What about Passionflower? The Natural Medicines Database speaks well of it for anxiety, without the possible safety issues associated with kava kava. (Can you tell I’m a worrier?)

Grokesque
Grokesque
3 years 5 months ago

I think the best thing about any tea (my preference is Rooibos Vanilla) is taking the time to taste it – switch everything else off, sit quietly and enjoy it. If you take tea on the run, nothing is going to work too effectively!

Paris
Paris
3 years 5 months ago

Thanks for this article! I’ve been under a lot stress lately and that is probably affecting my weight loss efforts too. Personally I’ve been drinking Melissa tea or Lemon Balm as some people call it. It is said to have calming effects and I’m not sure how much it works, maybe it has a placebo effect but I drink it to get more relaxed before sleep. It has a very nice smell too.

Kim
Kim
3 years 5 months ago

Rhodiola has the complete opposite effect on me. It makes me sleepy and groggy. Perhaps it somehow reacts to the claritin and asthma medication I take or perhaps I’m just “one in a million.”

George
George
3 years 5 months ago

A small dosage will act as a tonifier, a larger dosage can have a sedative effect. I started with a 300 milligrams daily capsule, affected me as you described, starting cycling (one month on one month off) 100 milligram capsule once daily and it works great for me.

Alice
Alice
3 years 5 months ago

I really enjoy the Yogi Bedtime tea. A cup in the evening as I’m winding down is comforting and definitely helps me sleep.

Tim
Tim
3 years 5 months ago

Tulsi Tea (Holy Basil) is very effective. But please be careful if you decide to try it. It’s powerful stuff!

Sam
Sam
2 years 30 days ago

Agree with this. Worked brilliantly as I was very stressed at work for the first few cups but after that it gave me mood swings that I have not been able to get rid of and have thrown the rest out. Any ideas about how to get my old stability back?!

mehitabel
mehitabel
3 years 5 months ago
Tea does have one mystery ingredient. Manufacturers don’t tell you how much fluoride is in your tea, or your green tea extract capsules. http://poisonfluoride.com/pfpc/html/green_tea___.html “Tea is very high in fluoride content. Fluoride in tea is much higher than the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) set for fluoride in drinking water. Tea leaves accumulate more fluoride (from pollution of soil and air) than any other edible plant (1,2,3). Fluoride content in tea has risen dramatically over the last 20 years, as has tea consumption (4). ……… Many available green tea/cancer studies last only a few months, and do not take into account… Read more »
Ed
Ed
3 years 5 months ago

I get kava root from my local hippy co-op in bulk…chew it, like how it numbs me…good stuff…I take chamomile, valerian root and mate…my friend calls it an “herbal speedball”…make it super strong….drink it all the time…my aunt advised me to mix skullcap w/ valerian…makes a nice sedative too!!!

Ben Makinen
3 years 5 months ago

Sex works well with me for relaxation; I drink water afterwards and feel great. Primal enough? 😉

Charlayna
3 years 5 months ago

Am I the only one who’s ridiculously happy that Mark Sisson reads Chuck Palahniuk?

PS I was in the book!

Charlayna
3 years 5 months ago

It (valerian root) was in the book, I was not…

George
George
3 years 5 months ago

l-theanine, Rhodiola Rosea, magnolia bark are all important parts of my supplementation regimen (I cycle the RR on one month, off one month). I used to take anti-depressants to control panic attacks (they were NOT environmentally / socially triggered) but for several years have been off it thank heavens by using these supplements. Good call by Mark to put these three in his product.

Atomic Bombshell
3 years 5 months ago

Thank you for sharing these, especially L-Theanine. I was struggling with postpartum anxiety (yeah, that’s a thing) for so long but refused to ingest the antidepressant (?!) the doctor wanted to prescribe, and this amazing amino acid has been exactly what I needed. A real lifesaver for me. Although I’m sure more potent chemicals are necessary for some people, I too highly advocate trying more natural substances first.

M.
M.
3 years 5 months ago

“I was struggling with postpartum anxiety (yeah, that’s a thing)…”

I was hit hard with PPA after the birth of my son, and like your comment implies, was constantly met with strange looks and responses like “You mean post-partum DEPRESSION?” any time I would tell people about it. It is most definitely a thing, and could use a lot more awareness and understanding.

trackback

[…] A popular product class is the “sleepy time” tea. These are the teas which purport to help you unwind from a rough day, relax in the midst of exterior (or interior) chaos, and chill out in a state of relatively peaceful bliss. Many of us live in a state of constant stress punctuated by bouts […]… Mark’s Daily Apple […]

Rebecca
Rebecca
3 years 5 months ago

I would love some feedback from anyone who has taken Mark’s Primal Calm. Interested in hearing what type of results (if any) were experienced with regards to helping with stress, focus and cortisol issues. =) I went ahead and ordered some but am curious to hear from others who have used it as I wait for it to arrive. Thanks! =)

Felicia
3 years 5 months ago
After 50 years of study I’ve become an expert in my own anxiety and depression and over the last winter finally managed to kick the worst of it to the curb. Yay, me! Anyway, I’ve used a number of techniques and supplements over the years and here are my favorites: Emotional Freeing Technique and Tapas Acupressure Technique: free to learn from the net but best used with professional guidance. My current therapist uses these two techniques and EMDR. We have been extraordinarily successful over the last five months and I am thrilled with how I feel these days. I have… Read more »
Beth
Beth
3 years 5 months ago

I have tried many teas and pretty much go with an organic chamomile now, but what works absolutely the best for me is a HOT Epsom salt bath (the magnesium relaxes muscles). If using marijuana for sleep, you have to know your smoke but be careful, it changes the brain chemistry and you may become dependent on it for sleep. What also has helped me over the years (particularly if I wake around 2:00 AM and can’t get back to sleep) is to drink 3 oz. of Tahitian Noni.

Sally
3 years 5 months ago

Hi,

Having travelled to Fiji on a couple of occasions I have participated in the Kava ritual many times and if you can handle the taste (kind of like muddy water) then it definitely has calming effects. Tread carefully though as too much will make you numb and hazy. Thanks for the post!

betterways
betterways
3 years 5 months ago
I wonder if we can make tea from the bark of the common Southern Magnolia Grandiflora like the one growing in my yard. I’m searching. So far I’ve found a site that included in the botanical details that no part of the plant is poisonous. Another site says that the plants are edible and lists medicinal uses of the bark. http://www.iron-clay.com/herbal_remedies/magnolia.html “iaphoretic; Hypotensive; Salve; Stimulant; Tonic. The bark is diaphoretic, stimulant, tonic. It is used in the treatment of malaria and rheumatism. A decoction has been used as a wash and a bath for prickly heat itching. The decoction has… Read more »
Chest Coach
Chest Coach
3 years 5 months ago

When I was younger, my mother would always give me Chamomile tea when I was sick so that I would sleep better and recover faster. By far it is one of the most relaxing herbal (not counting drugs in this mix haha!) spices I have ever used.

Drinking chamomile during the cold season is even better!

Pierre
Pierre
3 years 5 months ago

Isn’t some of the ingredients bodybuilders use hehe 🙂

charlotte
charlotte
3 years 5 months ago

using herbs and plants in various ways (medicinal and recreational) is definitely primal…i mean, if you’re going to *cook* your food, you might as well admit that our human ancestors probably figured out a few “good plants” before they figured out fire.

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