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Peaceful Dreams Elixer

We all experience insomnia and feelings of anxiety from time-to-time. In some ways, stress is good for you -- it may inspire you to complete a goal or to set one, or to make needed changes to bring more balance into your life. It's important to understand, however, that chronic stress and anxiety can’t be addressed properly with any pill, tonic or elixir, whether made from the earth or in a lab. Yes, plants are our allies in times of need and we should look to them for support. But it’s imperative that you also take steps to eliminate the root cause of your stress (a job, person or relationship, etc.), if possible, or at least minimize its perceived impact. Obviously, you can’t “eliminate” or deny a divorce, a death in the family or other life-altering event and its associated trauma. Similarly, you probably have to go to work each day to make ends meet, even if it's not your dream job. In these cases, practicing self-care, taking time to be mindful, spending time alone in nature and perhaps confiding in trusted counsel, can help to put things into better perspective and, in time, bring balance back to your life.

The herbs in the following formula have been used to induce relaxation and promote sleep for centuries and modern research validates their efficacy. Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora), for example, a member of the mint family that grows in the moist woodlands of northeastern North America, contains several flavonoid compounds (i.e., apigenin, baicalin and wogonin) with demonstrated anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) effects. The calming properties of passionflower and lavender are also well documented. In the latter, the mild sedative effects are produced by aromatic organic compounds called ketones. The sedative, anti-anxiety effects of passionflower are due to various alkaloids, most notably a group known as harmala alkaloids.

In addition to herbal therapies, incorporating other stress-reducing strategies into your daily routine can go a long way to finding your inner calm. A commitment to a "clean" diet free of artificial additives, preservatives, pesticides and GMO ingredients will help you to prepare meals in a mindful way that celebrates nature's bounty. Exercise and fresh air also promote the production and release of endorphins and other "feel good" hormones. Consider taking up Qigong, Ti chi, gentle yoga, and/or mediation. Even a short walk around the block or just sitting outside in a quiet space to sit in silence would be very helpful.


¼ cup chamomile

¼ cup passionflower

¼ cup lemon balm

2 tablespoons catnip

2 tablespoons skullcap

1 tablespoon lavender flowers

½ cup local raw honey

1 cup brandy, gin or vodka


Place the herbs in a pint-sized Mason jar or similar glass container with a lid. Pour the honey over the herbs. Stir the mixture with a wooden stick or butter knife to make sure the herbs are well-coated with honey. Pour the alcohol over the mixture, adding a bit more to completely cover if needed. Set the jar on a counter or shelf for 4 weeks, turning the jar once per day. (Add more alcohol if the herbs absorb too much liquid and are left uncovered.) After 4 weeks, strain and discard herbs. Transfer the reserved liquid into a clean jar with a lid or into amber dropper bottles. To use, take 1-2 tablespoons 30 minutes before retiring to bed. Use within 6 months.

by Karyn Maier

Updated 2/21/24

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