Schisandra: The Key to ZZs
This adaptogen can help you reclaim a good night's sleep.
For a little over a year, I battled major sleep issues. I would fall asleep easily, but around 1:30 or 2 a.m. I would bolt awake, tossing and turning for hours before falling back asleep. This disruptive sleep wreaked havoc on my emotions, my weight, and my life. Desperate for relief, I found an acupuncturist who was known for her herbal concoctions. After a few months of treatment, along with nightly intake of the tincture, I finally was able to break the cycle and sleep through the night again.
This experience has given me so much compassion for those who don’t sleep well, and it has renewed my faith in the ability of herbal medicine to get to the root of what is causing issues, and support our body in healing. Part of what is so special about a particular group of medicinal herbs called adaptogens is their ability to support essential health and resilience. Herbalist Agatha Noveille explores this group in her book The Complete Guide to Adaptogens.
Noveille describes adaptogens as “plants with revitalizing or restorative properties” and acknowledges that they have been used in Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine for centuries. As a general description, adaptogens are nontoxic, able to “increase resistance to multiple stressors” and “normalize physiological responses despite prior stress-related changes in the body.” She suggests that since adaptogens are most effective when take consistently, it’s best to use one type for a couple of months and then reassess where you are with your health and your health goals.
Schisandra, is often referred to as “five flavor” fruit, because when you keep a dried berry in your mouth, you can find all five flavors represented in different parts of the fruit. It is generally known for its calming properties, though Noveille describes “besides being calming and helping to relieve anxiety, it also enhances reflexes and concentration.” Additionally, schisandra is “used traditionally for dream-disturbed sleep.” In her recipe for Midnight Milk, Noveille pairs schisandra with ashwagandha, which is known to help with anxiety, insomnia and fatigue.
Midnight Milk Powder
¼ cup powdered ashwagandha
¼ cup powdered schisandra berries
1 cup powdered rose petals
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Blend together all the ingredients and store in an airtight container in the pantry until you are ready to use.
1 cup milk or plant milk
¼-1 teaspoon Midnight milk Powder
Honey, to taste
- In a small saucepan, heat 1 cup of milk until warm. Be careful not to scald or cook the milk.
- Pour the milk into a mug, and stir in ¼-1 teaspoon of Midnight Milk Powder (as desired).
- Sweeten with a little honey, and drink in the evening or as part of a bedtime snack.
Recipe excerpt from The Complete Guide to Adaptogens: From Ashwaganda to Rhodiola, Medicinal Herbs that Transform and Heal by Agatha Noveille (Adams Media)