Sleepmix Tea is a special caffeine-free blend of six Western herbs that relaxes the nervous system, aids in digestion, prevents insomnia, and reduces feelings of stress. The formula is three parts chamomile and one part each of peppermint, yarrow, hops, skullcap, and catnip. The formula was created by Michael Smith, MD, D.Ac., the same psychiatrist and acupuncturist who created the five-point ear acupuncture protocol used worldwide for acudetox and recovery.
Handing each client a cup of warm Sleepmix Tea allows everyone in the treatment room to begin to relax and calm down from anxiety even those who choose not to receive acupuncture, regardless of their drug of choice. It is a cleverly inexpensive and tasty way to effect change for anyone suffering from stress or difficulty falling asleep and is particularly effective for alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
For example, according to the NADA Training Resource Manual, “Inpatient alcohol detoxification units typically combine acudetox and herbal Sleepmix tea with a tapering benzodiazepine protocol. Patients report few symptoms and better sleep. Their vital signs stabilize and they need less benzodiazepines. One residential program in Connecticut noted a 90% reduction in Valium demand when the herbal tea alone was added to their protocol.” (NADA Training Resource Manual p. 65) And according to Claudia Voyles, L.Ac., coauthor of the Monograph Traditional Chinese Medicine, “A large public detoxification program, Hooper Center in Portland, Oregon, discovered accidentally that the seizure rate went up when the program ran out of Sleep Mix tea and dropped again when the tea was returned.”
Sleepmix Tea ingredients are considered food compounds. According to Dr. Smith they can be used on a continual basis and are safe for pregnant women and children.
How Sleepmix Tea Came to Be
Clinical Essay by Ryan Bemis, DOM, RT
NADA co-founder and psychiatrist Michael O. Smith recently told program administrators at a workshop that soup and friendship were “the best technology” for acudetox patients. In China, recipes of herbal remedies are most commonly referred to as “tang,” pinyin for “soup.” Herbal Sleepmix Detox Tea is the “soup” Smith created for NADA programs to be cooked and shared by clients and staff alike.
Smith recalls Sleepmix’s development in the ’70’s while searching for a good sleep aid for his clients. “Some people said valerian. Some people said chaparral. No one said Sleepmix.” He reports he tried all three and to his surprise, clients preferred the “just off the store shelf” Sleepmix blend. “Valerian is famous for being a sleep aid," Smith explained, "but valerian is a heart tonic marketed for middle-aged women. It isn’t what my patients needed. They needed to clear heat.”
In TCM, cold and bitter herbs are typically used to clear heat. Smith contends that an herb like scutellaria baicalensis, or Huang Qin, a very strong cold and bitter herb used to clear heat in Chinese medicine, would make his clients sicker. He included western scutellaria known as skullcap in his formula. Both varieties are cold and bitter and open up the liver as well as clear heat. However, western scutellaria has a slightly sweet flavor, which may enable a harmonizing function.
Smith describes his formula as “easy to digest, easy to handle,” calling to mind that “our clients can’t handle very much.” He credits chamomile as his formula’s main herb. Primarily a digestive herb, chamomile has a unique capacity to either cool the body down or warm it up, to adapt to what the body needs. Chamomile tastes sweet, which is the flavor of the Chinese element earth. In TCM, sweet herbs can moderate the intensity of other herbs. Chamomile, along with hops, catnip, skullcap, and peppermint, has calming functions.
In Sleepmix, peppermint, yarrow, and catnip have acrid flavors, which may account for their capacity to increase circulation and release heat by promoting sweating. Smith explains, “A big part of the herbal business is to make you sweat a little bit. And this is just a gentle version of that.” He notes that yarrow “makes the liver flow better.” Peppermint, like TCM’s field mint Bo He, also soothes the liver.
Smith characterizes his formula as some chamomile and some mints (peppermint, catnip, and skullcap are all types of mint). He contends, “None of these herbs are famous and all of them you can give to children,” yet are sufficient to detox an alcoholic. NADA programs need not venture beyond Sleepmix’s safety and simplicity for energetic explanations of why the recipe works for acudetox patients. However, the slow healing, light tonic properties of yarrow and skullcap can treat deficiency and excess as well as internal and external conditions, depending on what the individual needs.
This resonates with NADA parlance that “it’s an inside job,” therefore ideal for complex and cunning pathologies. Such are the cases in NADA programs. While Zang-Fu diagnosis is not always appropriate or helpful, especially at transitional phases of recovery, Sleepmix detox tea is, and at a low cost ($72 for 1000 tea bags from licensed supplier Nutracontrol).
Nutracontrol’s Indications for Sleepmix include:
Treating sleep disorders
People in high-stress environments
Hyperactive children and adults
Chronic anxiety relief
Chronic pain relief
Daily stress and anxiety relief
General aid in detox
Yarrow is the only herb in Sleepmix detox tea that has been used in China. Though not included in many Chinese formulas, yarrow, known in pinyin as Yang Shi Cao, was said to clear heat and clean toxins from the blood and from the liver. The stalks were used to consult the I Ching, or Book of Changes, an ancient Chinese text consulted by seekers of wisdom and self-knowledge. Millennia later, on the other side of the planet, Saint Albert the Great used yarrow for fear and self-negation, two nagging recovery issues.
Yarrow is a known wound healing remedy in cultures around the world from the Chinese to the Cherokee. Also called Military Herb and Soldier Wound Wort, it grows along pathways and was readily available to traveling troops and tribes alike. In fact, the botanical name, Achillea, comes from the Greek hero Achilles who applied yarrow to the wounds of his soldiers during the Trojan War. Interestingly, Yarrow is astringent, which may account for its wound binding capacity.
Holmes, P, The Energetics of Western Herbs. Vol. I and II, Revised Second Edition. ISBN 0-9623477-4-4. Snow Lotus Inc. 1994.
Ross, J, Combining Western Herbs and Chinese Medicine. ISBN 0-9728193-0-4. Greenfields 2003.
Herbal Sleepmix Tea is available from :
Old Chelsea Station
New York, NY 10011