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Herbal teas replacing sedatives in U.K. prisons

From The Alternative Mental Health News, February 2005

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Prisons in England and Wales have discovered a cheap, safe and popular alternative to sedatives to help prisoners get to sleep: Dr Stuart's Botanical Teas.

The "Tranquillity" and "Valerian Plus" blends have proven so effective at Downview jail, Surrey, that staff have all but stopped dispensing sedatives to women inmates.

News of the teas' benefits has spread by word-of-mouth since they were first introduced at Wandsworth men's jail in South London four years ago.

"They are very, very popular with prisoners," a Prison Service spokeswoman said. They are being introduced into more prisons and are proving a good alternative to sedatives and other prescription drugs which can become addictive."

Prisoners in Wandsworth started the trend towards herbal teas in jail when people suffering from stress and insomnia asked the prison pharmacy to order supplies. The teas are also being supplied to High Down men's jail, in Surrey, and Lewes jail, in Sussex.

Tranquillity is a blend of limeflowers, hawthorn berries, yarrow and fennel, and Valerian Plus is a mix of limeflowers, valerian root, hops, passionflowers and fennel.

A spokesman for Dr Stuart's Teas said: "We were contacted by Wandsworth prison pharmacy department as the teas had been requested by inmates -- especially those inmates coping with stress and sleep problems.

"The herbal tea initiative has been welcomed by prison pharmacy departments, who are keen for prisoners to enjoy the healthy natural herbal remedies rather than becoming hooked on other habit forming drugs, which are also far more costly."

The firm delivers 11 cases of tea or 2,640 tea bags to each jail every month at a cost of 120. The tea is distributed by the prisons' healthcare departments.