Herbalists still use COWSLIP leaves as a sedative and pain-killer. The plant has always had this reputation of inducing sleep. Hill said “the flowers have a tendency to procure sleep, and may be given in tea or preserved in form of a conserve”.

If you need rest,

Lettuce and cowslip wine probatum est (Pope wrote).

A root infusion of PRIMROSES, too, has a decided narcotic tendency if taken last thing at night. RED POPPY also has some sedative effect, though not as much as OPIUM POPPY. A syrup made from the flowers of the former is still sometimes used as a sedative to soothe coughs, and not all that time ago mothers on South Uist made a liquid from the flowers to help babies in their teething. An old Welsh sleeping draught recipe reads: Boil poppy heads in ale, and let the patient drink it, and he will sleep. In the Highlands the juice was put in children’s food to make them sleep, and Hill. 1754 recommended syrup of red poppies as a sleep-procurer. But of course, it is the OPIUM POPPY (emblem of Morpheus, the god of sleep, and the symbol of sleep itself) that provides the sedative par excellence, whether it is by opium or some preparation of the seeds. A syrup of poppies was being recommended in the 10th century as a sedative in catarrh or cough, and for insomnia (the Anglo-Saxon version of Apuleius has a recipe “for sleeplessness, take ooze, smear the man with it”. Poppy tea used to be a very popular sedative in the Fen country of England. Even teething children were given the tea, or a few poppy seeds to suck, tied in a piece of linen! THORN-APPLE seeds have been prescribed as a sedative, and of course VALERIAN is used extensively. It is usually taken as a root tea, or used in a bath to be taken before bed time. PEPPERMINT tea is a sedative, and LIME-FLOWER tea is also taken for insomnia, for it is slightly sedative. A hot bath with lime-flowers in it, is another insomnia remedy.

In Chinese medicine, the seeds of the JUJUBE (Zizyphus jubajuba) are used to give sleep, and also to benefit the nervous system.