Myrtle (Myrtus communis) is a plant used as a traditional medicine. In certain countries such as Ethiopia extracts of the plant are used for the purpose of treating insomnia. Incidence of insomnia ranges from 10 to 20 % depending on the country, and in many cases such insomnia is related to the development of mood disorders including anxiety or depression. Mainstream treatment for insomnia includes the use of pharmacological agents such as benzodiazepines because they possess a sedative and hypnotic effect. However, such drugs are associated with a risk of overdose and death. The sedative and hypnotic effects of myrtle have been investigated as an alternative to these drugs. One study showed that administration of the essential oil produced a significant depressant effect on the central nervous system of mice, and significantly elongated sleep duration. Myrtle may therefore be a natural alternative that may provide the benefits of pharmacological drugs, but without the internet side effects associated with them.
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