Wise Concoction: Sweet Dreams Elixir


Try these additions to the usual cup of warmed milk the next time you have trouble getting to sleep.

In Ayurvedic medicine, milk is considered a nourishing and building food, while its calcium and triptophan content calm and relax. Adding ginger or cinnamon followed by a teaspoon of honey counteracts the mucous that can form if one uses cow’s milk.

Besides its calming properties, this milk decoction strengthens the digestive system and is extremely nutritive. Lycii, a sweet-tasting Chinese herb available in most Chinatowns or by mail order, is a kidney and liver tonic, high in vitamins A and C, carotene, and linoleic acid. Dried red dates, another Chinese, herb, are sweet and warming; they soothe the emotions when you are irritable and help you to drift peacefully into sweet dreams.

You’ll need:

1 cup milk, soy milk, or rice milk (organic)

3 dried red dates, soaked in warm water to soften

4 lycii berries

1 teaspoon peeled and grated fresh ginger root or 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon


To make:

Heat the milk. Remove seeds from the dates and grind the dates and the lycii with a mortar and pestle or in a blender or food processor. Combine this mixture with the ginger or cinnamon. Add the ground herbs to the heated milk and simmer gently for 15 minutes. Add honey to taste. Strain and sip slowly.


For the wide-awake-at-3-a.m. version of insomnia, you may not want to take the time to grind the herbs. I have found a simpler version of this elixir just as effective at those times. Simply simmer the whole herbs in milk for 10 minutes, strain, and stumble back to bed, cup in hand. (The herbs can be eaten; just be careful of the pits in the dates.)

Image: Ann Marie

Editor’s note: reprinted with permission from Wise Concoctions: Natural Elixirs and Tonics for Health and Energy.