A sedative is a substance that functions to quiet nervous excitement and reduce motor activity, inducing sleep. They are used in the management of neuroses and in the treatment of anxiety and apprehension accompanying various disease states such as hypertension. Sedatives commonly function to induce reversible depression of the central nervous system. They may be referred to as tranquilizers, depressants, anxiolytics, soporifics, sleeping pills, downers, sedative-hypnotics. They include the benzodiazepines such as valium, xanax and dalmane; barbiturates, phenobarbital, and pentobarbital. For natural remedies, valerian is one of the most powerful plant sedatives known; it is called the herbal tranquilizer. It also helps resolve chronic headaches, decreases anxiety and reduces fatigue. Reach for a tincture of skullcap, a favorite pain killer and sleep-inducer, or motherwort, to steady nerves and calm thoughts. Lemon balm, hops and chamomile are just a few of the many sedating herbs available.
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