Valerian is an herb originating from Europe and some parts of Asia. The root of valerian has long been used as a sedative.
This herb can grow more than six feet in height and its odor is potent. It has been used since ancient Roman and Greek times.
People have been using it to relieve insomnia, reduce stress and anxiety, and several other health issues. However, there are not enough scientific data to support most of this anecdotal evidence.
With this in mind, any use of valerian for health should be done in consultation with your physician.
Potential Benefits & Uses of Valerian for Better Health
Many praise valerian root as a safer and more natural alternative to anxiety meds like Xanax, Valium, and Ativan which influence the GABA receptors.
Some data, though weak, support such claims. Namely, the valerenic acid seems to enhance the receptors by boosting the transmission, but without the sedative effects that are common with drugs like Valium.
This may be helpful in treating anxiety and mood disorders.
What’s more, a review from 2015 done by the Harvard Medical School found that of 12 traditional herbs for relief from anxiety, valerian was the most favorable one for bipolar.
This is one of the most popular uses of the valerian root. Although it’s popular among people, the evidence that it actually encourages or betters sleep or sleep quality is scarce.
In fact, one review of studies done in 2015 published in the Sleep Medicine Reviews found that valerian root had no influence on sleep in 1602 participants suffering from insomnia.
- Hot flashes
Hot flashes that are common for menopausal women may be relieved with valerian root. The action isn’t known as valerian doesn’t have a direct impact on the hormone levels. Moreover, in a 2013 study done in Iran, 68 women with menopause took valerian capsules three times per day for eight weeks.
They reported that the frequency of the flashes and the severity declined unlike in the placebo group. There were no side effects reported.
How to Dose & Prep Valerian?
There’s no set amount of valerian root or its extracts. Most of the tablets and capsules are made in doses that range from 300 to 600 milligrams and are deemed safe within this scope.
Valerian root tea is also consumed. You combine 2 to 3 grams of dried valerian root to a cup of hot water and steep it for 10 minutes and then strain and consume it.
The tinctures and extracts of valerian may differ in concentration; however, as a general rule, you should never take more than the dosage recommended.
Are There Any Potential Side Effects of Consuming Valerian?
Most of the studies done indicate that valerian root is safe and tolerated well for short-term use. The side effects, if there are any, are mild and some of them are dizziness, headache, upset belly, itchiness, vivid dreams, dry mouth, and drowsiness during the day.
Though rare, liver damage has been known to happen, especially as a response to an overuse of valerian supplements or wild dried root. It’s not known if the cause was valerian root or the contaminants in the product.
This is why it’s always best to consult your health provider if you plan on using valerian root for healing.
What’s more, valerian may lead to excessive sleepiness if it’s combined with sedatives, antidepressants, alcohol, OTC sleeping pills, or remedies for colds and the flu with codeine, diphenhydramine, and doxylamine.
Pregnant women, breastfeeding women, and kids shouldn’t use valerian root for healing because of insufficient research.