Treat Anxiety with Californian Poppy, Hops and Passion Flower

These three herbs have been found to be effective at relieving the symptoms of anxiety and insomia.

Californian poppy

Californian poppy is also known as Eschscholtzia californica. Californian poppy is rapidly becoming more popular as a treatment for anxiety and to help relieve insomnia.

The Californian poppy plant was discovered by a Russian physician called Dr Eschscholtz. The Californian poppy is in the same family as the opium poppy, but is not in the same genus. The alkaloid chemicals which are present in the Californian poppy are much less powerful than the opiates such as morphine and codeine which are found in the opium poppy. The alkaloid chemicals present in the Californian poppy are not addictive.

There have been a few small clinical and pharmacological studies carried out on the Californian poppy which have confirmed that the plant is useful as a sleep aid and to treat anxiety. It has also been found to be useful for relieving nervous tension and muscle tics.

Californian poppy is usually sold as a tincture (a liquid extract) and this can taste fairly bitter so it is often taken mixed with a juice. The normal dosage of Californian poppy is 30 drops of the tincture. However the strengths of liquid extracts does vary and it is important to read the label and follow the manufacturers directions which are on the bottle.

The tea made from Californian poppy is much milder. One spoonful of the whole dried herb can be used to make a cup of tea 2 to 3 times a day.

Specialists in herbal medicine report that Californian poppy and chamomile are mild enough and safe for use in children when taken as directed on the label for the appropriate age group.


The hops plant is also known as Humulus lupulus. The hops plant is a perennial vine that grows widely in England, Germany and North and South America. The hops plant produces conelike, scaly fruits which are known as strobiles. These strobiles possess glandular hairs which contain the medicinal chemicals that can treat anxiety.

Hops have been used as a preservative and flavouring in the brewing of beer in Europe since the eleventh century. People picking the hops who ingested them, became tired quickly and it was realised that the hops contained a sedative. A sedative compound, dimethylvinylcarbinol, was discovered in hops in modern times. This compound was found to have anxiolytic and sedative properties.

Hops lose their medicinal value rapidly when stored, so they need to be used fresh for their sedative properties. Hops are unstable when exposed to light and air. One research study discovered that hops lost about 90% of their potency after being stored for nine months.

Hops that are placed in "dream pillows" need to be fresh and need to be changed regularly if they are to maintain their sedative effect. Hops contain 0.35% essential oil, which contains the anxiolytic and sedative chemicals. Hops is available as an extract, standardized to 5.2% of the alpha bitter or 2% of the essential oil.

In Germany the Commission E has approved the use of hops flower as a treatment for anxiety, restlessness and sleep problems. Hops are not approved for and do not appear to help depression. Hops can aid sleep. If hops are combined with valerian they are especially effective for treating insomnia.

Medical studies have shown that a combination of hops and valerian taken at bedtime can aid sleep and that people still awake alert and fresh the following day.

Passion flower 

Passion flower is also known as Passiflora incarnata. Despite its name passion flower is not an aphrodisiac nor is it a stimulant.

Passion flower is native to North America and is a popular herb which is used for nervous restlessness and to treat anxiety. It derives its name from the appearance of the flower and the name is a reference to the Passion of Christ.

In Europe passion flower is often combined with valerian root and is used to treat anxiety, insomnia and irritability. It has been found that the calming effect of passion flower helps a person to relax and to fall asleep.

Medical research has shown that there was no sedative effect the following morning when passion flower is taken at bedtime to aid sleep. Passion flower is available in a standardised extract containing 3.5 to 4% isovitexin. Isovitexin is a flavonoid which is present in many herbs. The major flavonoids which have been isolated from passiflora incarnata are: orientin, isoorientin, vitexin, isovitexin, and schaftoside.

Dose of Passion flower to treat insomnia

Herbal specialists recommend that 200 to 300 mg of passion flower extract can be taken one hour before bed time to help treat insomnia.

Read much more about anxiety on this site here: main anxiety section on site