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Few things are more fascinating—and mysterious—than our dreams. If you’ve dipped your toes in the dream interpretation realm, you might be wondering how you can have more vivid or lucid dreams (and the resulting peeks into your subconscious) on a nightly basis.
According to Rachelle Robinett, R.H., the founder of herbalism education company Supernatural, certain herbs are here to help. Here’s what she had to say about achieving vivid dreams using herbal allies, plus a ritual to get you started.
The herb-dream connection.
According to Robinett, certain herbs can have a powerful effect on sleep and dreams. “The typical blends for lucid dreaming and dream recall, or vivid dreaming, are generally nootropics and hypnotics or sedatives,” she explains to mbg.
Nootropics are drugs or supplements believed to improve cognitive function, including memory. And hypnotics or sedatives, which Robinett notes are pretty interchangeable, allow you to be relaxed and somewhat sedated.
“Nootropics are stimulating cognitively but not caffeinated,” she adds, “and hypnotics or sedatives create this tension where you’re partly awake and you’re kind of sedated, so you’re able to be in that lucid state for longer or be more aware of your time in that space.”
And this isn’t a 21st-century discovery by any means: Cultures around the world have been incorporating herbs into their dreaming regimens for generations. From Mexico to China to India and even ancient Aztec civilizations, our ancestors have long believed in the power of herbs for dreams.
Robinett says that these 11 herbs are great for getting us into the relaxed, receptive state where dreaming can occur. As always, talk to your doctor before adding any new herbals to your routine, as they can interfere with certain medications:
- Gotu kola: An herb that would be considered a nootropic, found in research to improve cognitive function and promote healthy aging.
- Ginkgo: A plant native to China, ginkgo is another nootropic, Robinett says. It’s thought to improve cognition as well as memory.
- Bacopa: Long used in Ayurveda, bacopa is a nootropic herb that has been found in research to improve cognition and memory and even increase cerebral circulation.
- Rosemary: It’s great in your food and for dreaming, too! Rosemary, according to Robinett, increases cerebral circulation and may improve dream recall.
- Cordyceps: A type of fungus, cordyceps have actually been found in animal studies to increase nonrapid eye movement sleep.
- Lavender: A favorite herb when it comes to calming down, Robinett notes lavender can also help open your mind.
- Valerian: Moving into the sedative and hypnotic herbs, Robinett says valerian is one of the biggest heavy-hitters. Research suggests valerian can help improve sleep quality in some people.
- California poppy: The California poppy has hypnotic and sedative effects, Robinett tells mbg.
- Hops: Believe it or not, hops can actually help you sleep. It’s known for its calming properties, and in one study, researchers found nurses who worked rotating shifts were able to fall asleep faster after consuming it.
- Blue lotus: Robinett notes blue lotus is a favorite for dreaming and achieving a “trippy” state. It’s been used as far back as Ancient Egypt, and it can produce a somewhat “dreamlike” effect.
- Mugwort: “If you had to choose one herb for dreaming, it would be mugwort,” Robinett says, adding that “it’s a must.” It’s believed to help induce vivid and even lucid dreams.
If you’re looking to have some fun and interesting dreams, start by brewing the herb of your choice into a tea. A strong, small cup is better since you don’t want to drink a ton of tea before bed, for obvious reasons! From there, you can put a few drops of an essential oil blend on your wrist, perhaps light some incense, and just relax before bed as you sip your tea. Next stop: your subconscious.