The valerian root is an ancient remedy known to man since 2 A.D. It was introduced in scriptures and prescriptions of the famous Hippocrates, while Galen was the first medicinal researcher that prescribed the herb for natural ways to deal with anxiety and insomnia.
These notable recommendations by the Greeks and Romans might be the reason why the valerian root remains a favorite in the world of therapeutic herbs.
Do you have trouble sleeping at night? Does your mind refuse to shut down while your body begs for a
You aren’t the only insomniac in the world. In fact, recent surveys have shown that our generation is sleeping twenty percent less than those that lived a century ago. The chaotic, digitally inclined life and the race to be better and above others are one of the few factors that keep us up at night.
Is there a cure for sleep deprivation?
While some people throw their cash at addictive sedatives and sleeping pills, more and more people are leaning towards natural cures. Valerian root is one of the names that crop up in the list of natural remedies to help with sleep-related issues.
It is a common ingredient in many medicinal products:
- The root is used as a dietary supplement
- When dried, the root can be used to prepare soothing teas or tinctures
- Its dried extract is filled into capsules or added in mild-sedatives
As seen above the valerian root is heavily used in sedatives, supplements, teas, and tinctures to cure insomnia and ease the anxiety that keeps you up at night. However, the amount of valerian used in each product may vary according to dosage and applications.
- Helps deal with anxiety and stress
- Helps fight insomnia
- Increases alertness and makes feel relaxed
There are many allopathic medicines available in the market right now that claim to be perfect treatment of anxiety. Some of these medicines do actually work but most of them come with side effects. Some of these medicines are also addictive which is why it is better to look for a healthier option.
A healthier alternative medicine that can perfectly treat your anxiety is the valerian root. It is an herbal medicine that is known to cure insomnia in many people around the world. The best thing about this drug is that it doesn’t have any harmful side effects that you might usually have to deal with in allopathic medicines.
Aside from curing insomnia, valerian root has many other advantages which include anxiety treatment and even relieving muscle tension. A few studies have ruled out valerian root from being a possible cure for anxiety claiming that it is actually a placebo effect that shows its magic. However, according to the positive reviews from the users and due to its ancient history and no side effect property, you should give it a go yourself. Valerian root can be consumed in the form of a capsule or powder infused in food items.
The all-healing valerian root is the part of the perennial flower called valerian. The name valerian is derived from the Latin word valere, meaning to ‘be strong and healthy’. The heliotrope (meaning pinkish-purple tinge) probably got its name due to its therapeutic qualities that help improve our sleep cycle and ease out other health problems.
Also known as set-wall the “Valeriana Officinalis” the most common variety out of 250 others that sprouts in Europe, Asia, and Northern America.
While the herbaceous flower is known to carry a sweet smelling fragrance used in perfume, its root is quite the opposite. The valerian root has an unpleasant earthy odor that would have been hard to digest if we were to eat the roots raw.
The valerian has been a well-identified herb that ways to help you sleep. This is why it has long been an object of interest for the physicians and men of medicine.
Many medical researchers have tried to locate the main components of the valerian root that help cure insomnia and anxiety. Although the medical researchers have been able to identify the elements that join together to form the valerian root, they are still finding it hard to know which of these things possesses the sedative quality that puts the brain and nervous system to sleep.
The two main components found to aid sleep are:
- The valeric acid found in the oil
- A chemical called iridoid
Even though we don’t know what causes the valerian root to work effectively to counter insomnia. We do know that that particular chemical helps the brain to release the GABA which in turn helps us fall asleep.
Apart from the chemical makeup of the valerian root, it has been observed the herb is effective as a sedative only after 2-4 weeks of use. This means that the valerian root is not effective for an instant remedy.
Therefore, you should be patient and not give up on the valerian medicine after using it for a week or two.
As mentioned previously, the valerian root activates the release of GABA in our brains.
GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that inhibits the neurons in our brain from connecting and transmitting signals. In simple words, this neurotransmitter stops our brain from working, putting it into sleep mode.
The compounds in the valerian root either activate the brain to release GABA or have some amount of GABA of their own that enters our bodies when we take in our dosage. It also prevents the GABA in the brain from drying out by subduing the enzyme that fights against the acid.
All this action or rather the lack of neuron action prevents the mind from over thinking too much so that we can easily get to sleep.
The valerian root is usually taken at night to ease our inability to fall asleep. Other than that its calming powers are used to How to cure depression, anxiety, migraines and other health problems like menopause.
Although the root carries a pungent earthy smell, it tastes fine. Due to this, you can intake it in various forms from tea, tinctures to extract and capsules.
The recommended dosage for each type is:
- Tincture: 1-1 ½ tsp in water
- Tea: 1 tsp (2-3 grams of dried valerian root) for one cup of tea
- Liquid extract: 1-1 ½ tsp
- Powdered extract: 250-600 milligrams
- Capsules: as per doctor’s prescription
Additionally, you must not take valerian root for longer than 6-8 weeks. This is because the supplements start to lose their effect after a long duration. On the other hand, you might get addicted to the herb which may intensify its side effects and make your brain too tuned out throughout the day.
Other points to keep in mind:
- The valerian capsules must be swallowed whole, crushing or breaking it might subdue its effects
- The valerian tablet is not recommended for pregnant woman or those who breastfeed
The name ‘Valerian’ is derived from the Latin word of ‘valere’ which means ‘healthy’ and ‘to be strong’. There are a lot of evidence available in the books of medical history that indicate the use of valerian root. The earliest record dates back to the ancient Greece and Rome. The first person to describe the properties of the valerian root was none other than Hippocrates II. The next evidence also comes from Greece by another famous Greek physician named ‘Galen’. Galen was the first physician who prescribed valerian root in order to treat his patients who were suffering from insomnia. Galen also revealed methods of how to relieve anxiety through the use of valerian root. This research laid the basis of the drug use for future generations.
The use of Valerian root can also be traced back to medieval Sweden where it was famously used during the wedding season. Valerian root is famous for its incredible pungent odor which led the ancient Swedes to believe that it is a good idea to put this plant inside the groom’s clothes. This practice was performed in order to keep away jealous elves. Early evidence also reveals that valerian root was also popular among the native Americans who used to chew the plant straight away for medicinal purposes.
Valerian root was also recommended by Nicholas Culpeper, a famous astrological botanist from the 16th century, who believed that this plant was directly influenced by planet Mercury. Other historical evidence confirm that valerian root was commonly used as a stimulant during the mid 19th century in many parts of the world. Many historical sources also confirm the use of the plant to relieve the stress among people in England during World War II.
Valerian roots are considered as a safe and natural way to kick insomnia to the curb. Yet, it still has a few side-effects that many people have complained about.
Therefore, it is important to note that using valerian roots can cause:
- Stomach problems
- Feeling of nausea
- Hives or itching due to an allergic reaction
- Dry mouth
Word to the Wise:
Apart from the common side effects, it has been noted that high dosage of valerian roots can hinder your productivity and alertness.
You need to keep the doses moderate to prevent:
- Drowsiness during the day
- Trouble in thinking and processing information
- Erratic heartbeat
- The feeling of restlessness and uneasiness
Other than this a prolong use of valerian roots that exceeds four to eight weeks might influence an addiction problem. Therefore, to avoid facing withdrawal symptoms, try to ease out of the habit of using valerian by decreasing your daily dosage.
Apart from the dosage, the effectiveness of any medicine or herb may be influenced by external factors. This is mainly applicable to the other drugs that they may be interacting with, as doing so you may be brewing a harmful concoction that elevates the side effects of the valerian root.
Usual drug interactions with valerian cause heavy drowsiness that creates issues in focusing or paying attention to many tasks that require an alert mind for example: driving and studying. They may intensify nausea too.
The worst case scenario due to drug interaction is that they stop the valerian from working due to which instead of a soothing effect the herb starts to build up a feeling on frenzy and unrest in the body. That also affects the heartbeat and causes heart palpitations.
Some of the drugs to avoid taking with the valerian root are:
Or medicines prescribed for:
- Heart conditions
- High blood pressure
- Liver problems
Also avoid using valerian with other sleep inducing herbs like:
- Gotu Kola
- John’s Wort
This is just a comprehensive list of drug interactions you must avoid while using valerian root. This is why you must monitor the effects of the drug if you ever use it with something else. If you notice the side effects prolonging or intensifying after using the second drug, then stop the dosage at once.
The valerian is one of the top-selling therapeutic herbs used to cure sleep and anxiety. This is why it is widely available worldwide.
You can even buy it online!
The beneficial root is found in all forms ranging from herbal teas, capsules, tinctures and different types of extracts. This makes it easier for you to choose your method of intake, you can either take the herb in tea form via tea bags or tinctures or you may prefer to swallow it as a pill.
It doesn’t matter what form of valerian root you take, they are all effective in unwinding you and helping you sleep peacefully.
- Telemetry as a tool to measure sedative effects of a valerian root extract and its single constituents in mice.
- The effects of valerian root on hot flashes in menopausal women.
- Analysis of responses to valerian root extract in the feline pulmonary vascular bed.
- In vitro activity of commercial valerian root extracts against human cytochrome P450 3A4.
- Determination of metal content in valerian root phytopharmaceutical derivatives by atomic spectrometry.
- Psychotropic effects of Japanese valerian root extract.
- Synaptosomal GABA release as influenced by valerian root extract–involvement of the GABA carrier.
- Effects of valerian root oil, borneol, isoborneol, bornyl acetate and isobornyl acetate on the motility of laboratory animals (mice) after inhalation.
- Characterisation of the central nervous depressant activity of a commercially available valerian root extract.
- GABA A receptors as in vivo substrate for the anxiolytic action of valerenic acid, a major constituent of valerian root extracts.
- Unsafe and potentially safe herbal therapies.
- Effects of aqueous, methanolic and chloroform extracts of rhizome and aerial parts of Valeriana officinalis L. on naloxone-induced jumping in morphine-dependent mice.
- Studies on chemical constituents of Valeriana officinalis.
- (-)-3 beta,4 beta-epoxyvalerenic acid from Valeriana officinalis.
- Microscopical study of valepotriates in lipid droplets of various tissues from valerian plants.