Trying to fall asleep and failing is probably one of the most frustrating endeavors for all human beings.
My entire life I’ve struggled with sleep; falling asleep, staying asleep, and wild vivid dreams when I do sleep. If you are anything like me, then you too have had A LOT of sleep remedy solutions thrown your way by friends, family, strangers, and medical professionals. Sometimes those remedies work. Sometimes they do the opposite.
Lately, I’ve been using a remedy that has been used for centuries and is mild enough even for a toddler but strong enough for an adult. It has been referenced in pop culture and is the state flower of California. The Spanish called it “Copa de ora” or “cup of gold;” referencing the Native legend that where it’s petals fell, gold could be found. Well, this beauty is worth it’s weight (and more) in gold to me because since taking it, I have slept better than I have in years. It’s most commonly known as the California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica).
Not only is this little flower strong enough for me (although I am definitely a lightweight), but it is gentle enough for children. In fact, it is commonly and traditionally used as a sleep aid for children. The other night, I went to check on my daughter at 10pm before I went to bed and found her still wide-awake lying in bed. She said she couldn’t sleep because she couldn’t stop thinking about tornadoes (I told her watching tornado videos on YouTube before bed was a bad idea). So, I diluted 10 drops of California Poppy extract into an ounce of apple juice and gave it to her. Within 10 minutes she was asleep. The next morning, she was happy and energetic, saying she had a really good nights sleep with no dreams. I love this little plant so much!
California Poppy, while in the same botanical family (papaveraceae), it is not the same flower as the Opium Poppy (Papaver somniferum). Think of them as cousins. The Opium Poppy is the intense and notorious cousin while the California Poppy is far more mild-mannered and approachable and does not have any narcotic or addictive properties. However, because the two poppies are related, California poppy does exhibit similar properties such as mild analgesic (pain-killing) properties and can help with different types of pain like headaches, muscle aches, pains, and spasms. It can also be used to help with anxiety, depression, hyperactivity, and nervous tension. Poppy is spiritually calming, relaxing, and also helps with nervous bowel conditions in children.
This mild-mannered flower has been used and indicated as a sedative for cases of anxiety, over-excitement, and sleeplessness for children and adults for centuries. It is also a mild antispasmodic, which also aids in inducing sleep.
This delightful herb can be prepared as a tea/ herbal infusion, or as an extract/ tincture. I’ve been using it in its extract form to great success. Its taste is cooling and quite bitter, so it is often paired with sweeter herbs, sweetened with honey, or diluted in fruit juice to make it more palatable. I personally like the bitter taste, but many people used to a sweeter diet, don’t care for it. I find that diluting the tincture in apple juice works great for my kids.
Doses According to David Hoffman in his book “Medical Herbalism:”
Infusion: 1 tsp dried
flower per cup of boiling water infused for 10 minutes and strained. Drink one cup at bedtime to aid sleep.
Tincture/Extract: 15 – 30 drops per day just prior to bedtime.
Children’s doses (2+ years old) should be 1/3 to ½ the adult dose.
California Poppy is MOSTLY safe to use with the exception of the fact that it will increase the effects of sedative prescription medications. So if you are taking prescription sleep medications, don’t take California poppy in addition to them. Pick one or the other. Don’t combine them. I would assume that narcoleptics might not want to take California Poppy either. As with most supplements, do not use or at least consult with a doctor prior to using if you are pregnant or breastfeeding as the sedative properties can affect the unborn or nursing children.
If this handy little flower sounds intriguing to you, I encourage you to do further research to see if it is right for you and your situation. I’ve listed some references at the bottom to get you started.
Resources and Further Reading:
Hoffman, D. (2003). Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press. (Buy it Here)
Moore, Michael. Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West. Museum of New Mexico Press, 2003. (Buy it Here)
Double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled study to evaluate the efficacy and safety of a fixed combination containing two plant extracts (Crataegus oxyacantha and Eschscholtzia californica) and magnesium in mild-to-moderate anxiety disorders.