In this article I list non-herbs (animal products and minerals) from the traditional Chinese pharmacopoeia that can help alleviate sleep and dream problems, such as insomnia, excessive dreaming, nightmares and bad dreams, and so on.

They are listed below along with their indications (specific conditions for which the remedy is used) and contraindications (conditions in which the remedy should not be used).

If you’re interested in purchasing a personalized remedy for any sleep or dream-related problem, get in touch. I also provide free consultations. 

The below non-herbs are powerful medicines. Do not take them without consulting with your physician first, especially if you suffer from any disease or are taking medications. Note that substances which are sedatives should not be taken while driving, etc. or together with other sedatives.

Learn about herbs used in traditional Chinese medicine for insomnia or dream problems.

Bie Jia (Carapax Trionycis)

Zoological name: Trionyx sinensis.

English name: Turtle shell (dorsal side of tortoise shell).

Indications: Insomnia.

Contraindications: Pregnancy, Spleen-deficiency with loose stools or diarrhea, and for patients who have not completely recovered from an exterior disorder.

Chan Tui (Periostracum Cicadae)

Zoological names:

  • Cryptotympana atrata
  • Cryptotympana pustulata

English name: Cicada moulting.

Indications: As a CNS suppressant, it may prolong sleeping time induced by barbiturates and counter excitation induced by caffeine.

Contraindications: Pregnancy. Qi and yin deficiency. May induce drowsiness and sedation; exercise caution in driving or operating heavy machinery.
Chinese non-herbs for Sleep Problems

Ci Shi (Magnetitum)

English name: Magnetite.

Indications: Insomnia, anxiety.

Contraindications: Excessive or prolonged intake.

Dai Zhe Shi (Haematitum)

English name: Hematite.

Indications: Insomnia.

Contraindications: Pregnancy and cold conditions. Do not use a large dose or for a prolonged period of time.

Gui Ban (Plastrum Testudinis)

Zoological name: Chinemys reevesii.

English name: Tortoise plastron (ventral side of tortoise shell).

Indications: Insomnia, anxiety.

Contraindications: Pregnancy, diarrhea, deficiency-related cold, or damp-cold.

Hu Po (Succinum)

English name: Amber.

Indications: Insomnia.

Contraindications: Yin-deficient heat and/or frequent urination. As a CNS suppressant, it may prolong sleeping time induced by barbiturates. Use may be associated with drowsiness and sedation. Therefore, exercise caution if driving or operating heavy machinery.

Ling Yang Jiao (Cornu Saigae Tataricae)

Zoological name: Saiga tatarica.

English name: Antelope horn.

Indications: Insomnia, nightmares.

Contraindications: Spleen deficiency. As a sedative, it may increase drug-induced sleeping time.

Long Chi (Dens Draconis)

English name: Fossilized animal teeth.

Indications: Anxiety, insomnia, dream-disturbed sleep.

Long Gu (Os Draconis)

English name: Fossilized animal bones.

Indications: Insomnia, easily becoming frightened or awakened by dreams, anxiety.

Contraindications: Nocturnal emissions caused by fire. Damp-heat or externally-contracted disorders.

Lu Rong (Cornu Cervi Pantotrichum)

Zoological names:

  • Cervus nippon
  • Cervus elaphus

English name: Deer horn (antler).

Indications: Improves sleep.

Contraindications: Yin-deficient heat, phlegm-heat in the Lung, Stomach fire and excess, or stagnant conditions caused by heat. Bleeding because of yin-deficient fire.

Mu Li (Concha Ostreae)

Zoological names:

  • Ostrea gigas
  • Ostrea talienwhanensis
  • Ostrea rivularis

English name: Oyster shell.

Indications: Insomnia.

Contraindications: Damp-heat or excess conditions.

Shi Gao (Gypsum Fibrosum)

English name: Gypsum.

Indications: Insomnia.

Contraindications: Qi deficiency, yin deficiency, Spleen yang deficiency, deficient cold of the Stomach, or fever due to yin deficiency. Not suitable for long-term use and should be stopped as soon as the desired effect is achieved.

Shi Jue Ming (Concha Haliotidis)

Zoological names:

  • Haliotis diversicolor
  • Haliotis gigantea discus
  • Haliotis discus hannai
  • Haliotis ovina
  • Haliotis ruler
  • Haliotis asinina
  • Haliotis laevigata

English name: Abalone shell.

Indications: Insomnia.

Contraindications: Deficiency and cold of the Spleen and Stomach, or those with poor appetite and loose stools.

Xi Jiao (Cornu Rhinoceri)

Zoological names:

  • Rhinoceros unicornis
  • Rhinoceros sondaicus
  • Rhinoceros sumatrensis
  • Rhinoceros bicornis
  • Rhinoceros simus

English name: Rhinoceros horn.

Indications: Insomnia.

Contraindications: Coldness and water accumulation in the Heart channel. May prolong sleeping time induced by barbiturates.

Zhen Zhu (Margarita)

Zoological names:

  • Cristaria plicata
  • Hyriopsis cumingii
  • Pteria martensii
  • Anodonta woodiana

English name: Pearl.

Indications: Insomnia.

Zhen Zhu Mu (Concha Margaritaferae)

Zoological names:

  • Cristaria plicata.
  • Hyriopsis cumingii.
  • Pteria martensii.

English name: Mother of pearl.

Indications: Frequent dreams, insomnia.

Contraindications: Coldness and water accumulation in the Heart channel.

Zhu Sha (Cinnabaris)

English name: Cinnabar.

Indications: Insomnia, dream-disturbed sleep.

Contraindications: Do not use at a large dosage or for a long period of time. Use with extreme caution for those with compromised liver and kidney functions. Do not process Zhu Sha with heat.

Source

Chen, J. K. and Chen, T. T., Chinese Medical Herbology and Pharmacology. Art of Medicine Press, Inc. City of Industry, CA, USA.