Michael Tierra L.Ac., O.M.D.
Ayurveda offers some unusual and profound treatments for insomnia. Essentially the strategy is to calm Vata (nerve humour) and cool Pitta (fire humour).
Herbs that are cooling to excessive Pitta (inflammatory imbalance), such as Brahmi (Gotu kola or Hydrocotyl asiatica) and Amla (Emblica officinalis) are used. For Vata (nerve imbalance) one uses spicy and warming herbs that have a special effect on the nervous system. The major herb in this category is calamus root (vacha). This seems contradictory but in fact these herbs affect the system differently so that they do not interfere but rather compliment each other.
The combination of these can be taken three times daily a teaspoon of the powder each time with boiled warm milk or water. Oil can be made of these by decocting them first in water. After a period when most of the water is evaporated, add sesame oil and decant the remaining water away.
This is a powerful oil to massage on the head to calm the mind. This oil is used in the beautiful and highly therapeutic "shirodhara" technique which is part of Panchakarma. It consists of systemically dripping warm oil on the forehead for a period of 20 to 30 minutes. This treatment is very effective for mental imbalance and all mental problems. Just rubbing the oil on the head each day a half hour or so before washing the hair will also be very effective.