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Botanical Sleep and Mood Aids

Anxiety, depression, and other mood malaise can lead to sleep issues, from restless sleep to chronic insomnia. Lack of sleep can cause exhaustion during the day, decreased cognitive function, and loss of emotional reserves leading to a vicious cycle of increased anxiety and depression aggravated by compounding diminished nighttime rest. This HerbClip issue includes two studies (HC 022227-698, HC 022232-698) that sought to reduce depression and anxiety symptoms, while increasing sleep time. One trial demonstrated efficacy, while the other did not.

A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial evaluated the safety and efficacy of duloxetine (an anti-depressant and nerve pain medication) and cordyceps (Cordyceps militaris, Ophiocordycipitaceae) to improve insomnia in patients with depression.1 Conducted in China, from January 2018 to January 2019, the trial included 48 patients ranging in age from 18-65. The patients took one 60 mg duloxetine capsule after breakfast and three tablets of either cordyceps (a total of 3 g) or placebo after dinner each day. Interestingly, while depression and sleep symptoms were reduced in both groups, the placebo group showed a significant decrease in insomnia compared to cordyceps using the Athens Insomnia Scale.

However, a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized, clinical trial assessing the effectiveness of a lemon verbena (Aloysia citrodora, syn. Lippia citriodora, Verbenaceae) extract did demonstrate efficacy in patients with high levels of stress and poor sleep quality. Forty patients were randomly assigned to receive either RelaxPLX® (Monteloeder SL; Elche, Spain), a purified extract of lemon verbena leaves standardized to a minimum of 28% total phenylpropanoids, or placebo (20 in each group). The trial, conducted in Spain, lasted two months with a one-month washout period. After two months, the treatment group reported a reduction in stress, which was confirmed by significantly decreased cortisol levels. After the washout period, treatment participants relayed that their stress levels were lower than before washout. Sleep tracking devices showed that the treatment group experienced deeper stages of sleep.

Lori Glenn
HerbClip™ Managing Editor



1Zhou J, Chen X, Xiao L, Zhou J, Feng L, Wang G. Efficacy and safety of Cordyceps militaris as an adjuvant to duloxetine in the treatment of insomnia in patients with depression: a 6-week double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Front Psychiatry. November 11, 2021;12:754921. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2021.754921.

2Martínez-Rodríguez A, Martínez-Olcina M, Mora J, Navarro P, Caturia N, Jones J. Anxiolytic effect and improved sleep quality in individuals taking Lippia citriodora extract. Nutrients. January 4, 2022;14(1):218. doi: 10.3390/nu14010218.