Valerian, found mainly in Europe is an herb that grows wild in grassland dating back to the 2nd Century.
But newly found its popularity in the 17th Century, used as garden decoration and its root contains the medicine which is most usually used for sleep disorders, particularly the lack of sleep (insomnia).
It grows up to 2 feet tall, having umbrella-shaped heads, straight stem and dark leaves. The Valerian root is pressed as fresh juice for tea or made into powder form for use as medicine in form of capsules and tablets.
It is often used together with hops, lemon balm, or other herbs that also cause sleepiness. Several individuals who are trying to withdraw from using sleeping pills use valerian to assist them sleep after such sleeping pills. It is mostly used to assist with sleep and promote a feeling of calmness. There are scientific evidences that show that valerian works for sleep disorders, even though not all the studies are positive.
Valerian is also used for other health conditions related to psychological stress and anxiety including nervous asthma, excitability, hysterical states, and fear of illness (hypochondria), migraine, headaches, and stomach upset.
Other people use valerian for muscle and joint pain, mild tremors, epilepsy, depression, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Valerian is used for. Some women use valerian for menstrual cramps and symptoms associated with menopause, including anxiety and hot flashes. Sometimes, valerian added to water for bathe aids with sleep disorders and restlessness.
The extracts and oil gotten from valerian during manufacturing are also used as flavoring in foods and beverages.
Use of Valerian
- Sleep Disorders: Until now, clinical research has failed to demonstrate the effectiveness of valerian for insomnia. The results were often contradictory and inconclusive in all. Since 2014 studies show that when taken as a sleep aid on it’s own, can provide some assistance with sleeping.
People who took extracts of valerian reported feeling an improvement in their sleep and decreased fatigue. However, this perception is validated by any objective criteria such as sleep latency, sleep duration or number of awakenings during the night.
The only thing that researchers agree is the safety of the plant and the need for more controlled studies. Indeed, the disparity of procedures (excerpts dosage, duration of treatment) could only explain the variability of the results. Added to this is the heterogeneity of the extracts used. You should know that valerian root contains more than 150 chemical compounds whose proportions vary according to growing conditions, harvesting and the manufacturing processes. Finally, analysis of the results is complicated by the nature of insomnia, a sleep disorder multi-factorial, difficult to assess and whose treatment the placebo effect plays a significant role.
Valerian is rarely used alone. Traditionally it is often associated with other plants with calming properties, such as lemon balm or hops. Experiment with this type of preparation gave positive results.
Recently, a clinical trial with forty people reported a beneficial effect of valerian (800 mg daily for 8 weeks) in victims of restless leg syndrome(RLS). The researchers observed a reduction in symptoms, improved sleep and decreased daytime sleepiness.
- Anxiety and Nervous Restlessness: Studies in animals suggest that valerian may act on certain chemical messengers in the brain to reduce stress and anxiety. Some clinical trials have been conducted with people suffering from stress or generalized anxiety disorder, but results are insufficient and do not allow, for now, to validate these effects on humans.
- Obѕеѕѕіvе Compulsive Dіѕоrdеr (OCD): OCD is a rеlаtіvеlу соmmоn соndіtіоn сhаrасtеrіzеd bу thе need to check thіngѕ rереаtеdlу аnd thе nееd fоr rоutіnе. Whіlе іt does not ѕоund especially ѕеrіоuѕ, it саn hаvе a major іmрасt on quality of lіfе and ѕuffеrеrѕ оftеn seek medical hеlр to іmрrоvе the соndіtіоn.
Wіth hеrbаl rеmеdіеѕ bеіng a mоrе desirable and safer орtіоn fоr trеаtmеnt thаn рhаrmасеutісаl medication, a study was рublіѕhеd іn 2011 whісh еvаluаtеd vаlеrіаn’ѕ еffесtѕ оn OCD. Thе 8 wееk lоng study fоund that vаlеrіаn hаd some еffесt in trеаtіng compulsion аnd оbѕеѕѕіоn and thаt іt was well tolerated bу the раrtісіраntѕ.
- Hyperactivity and Focus іn Chіldrеn: Thеrе ѕееmѕ tо be аn іnсrеаѕіng аmоunt оf сhіldrеn whо are lаbеlеd as hуреrасtіvе аnd incapable оf lеаrnіng оr bеhаvіng аt ѕсhооl. Hyperactive children are unable to ѕіt ѕtіll or to focus fоr lоng еnоugh to tаkе in thеіr daily lessons аnd thіѕ саuѕеѕ a great dеаl of ѕtrеѕѕ fоr thеіr parents. Eаrlу ѕtudіеѕ into thе еffесtѕ оf vаlеrіаn root соmbіnеd wіth lеmоn bаlm hаvе bееn quite роѕіtіvе.
A very rесеnt study рublіѕhеd іn 2014 treated рrіmаrу ѕсhооl аgеd сhіldrеn wіth a combination оf lеmоn balm аnd vаlеrіаn rооt еxtrасt fоr ѕеvеn wееkѕ bаѕеd оn thе рrеvіоuѕ rеѕеаrсh on thе ѕаmе соmbіnаtіоn оf herbs whеn they wеrе tеѕtеd fоr іnѕоmnіа аnd restlessness. 169 children participated in the ѕtudу аnd thе rеѕultѕ whіlе nоt соnсluѕіvе wеrе vеrу promising.
The percentage of сhіldrеn whо were unable tо fосuѕ decreased massively frоm 75% tо оnlу 14% while thоѕе exhibiting hуреrасtіvіtу аlѕо drорреd ѕіgnіfісаntlу frоm оvеr 60% tо juѕt 13%. Thе реrсеntаgе of сhіldrеn dееmеd to bе іmрulѕіvе аlѕо fеll a grеаt dеаl. Moreover раrеntѕ observed іmрrоvеd sleep аnd ѕуmрtоmѕ in their сhіldrеn.
Thеѕе rеѕultѕ are еxсеllеnt and rеѕеаrсhеrѕ соnсludеd bу ѕауіng thаt thе соmbіnаtіоn of hеrbѕ wаѕ a viable trеаtmеnt together with trаdіtіоnаl counseling.
Proper Valerian Dosages
As an Oral Supplement
- Dried root: infuse 2 to 3 g for 5 to 10 minutes in 150 ml of boiling water. Take 30 to 60 minutes before bed.
- Tincture (1:5): Take 4 ml to 6 ml, 30 to 60 minutes before bed.
- Standardized extract (0.8% valeric, 1-1.5% of valtrates): Take 400 mg to 600 mg, 30 to 60 minutes before bed.
Nervous Agitation and Anxiety
- Dried root: infuse 2 to 3 g for 5 to 10 minutes in 150 ml of boiling water. Take up to 5 times daily.
- Dye (1:5): Take 1 ml to 3 ml, up to 5 times daily.
- Standardized extract (0.8% valeric, 1-1.5% of valtrates): take 250 mg to 400 mg, 3 times daily.
Notes: Some sources mention that it sometimes requires a person to use the plant for 2-4 weeks to fully feel the benefits, especially in cases of chronic insomnia.
Contrary to the adverse effects of sleeping pills, taking valerian at bedtime and at recommended doses usually do not leave the user with the feeling of “hangover” the next day.
- Calming bath: Infuse 100 g dried root in 2 liters of boiling water and add hot water to the tub.