Valerian root is a hardy perennial flowering plant, with heads of sweetly scented pink or white flowers blooming in the summer months. Valerian flower extracts have been used in perfume making since the 16th century.

Valerian Root: What You Didn’t Know Before

For centuries, valerian root has been used as a cure for various ailments. Valerian is a Latin word which means, “to be strong and healthy.”  In ancient Greece, valerian root was used to cure stomach aches, liver problems, nausea and urinary tract disorders. Nowadays, valerian root is used to relieve sleeping disorders, hysteria, nervousness and other ailments.

Traditional preparation of valerian root is to boil the herb in water and serve as tea. The oil found in the roots has a strong odor similar to old cheese or milk; boiling the roots removes some oils, reducing the smell. Valerian root is also available in capsule tablet, tincture and liquid extract forms which can be found in drugstores and health food stores.

Active Ingredients: Scientists discovered chemical compounds, such as valeric acid and valepotriates in fresh and dried valerian root. The most abundant chemical structures are the valerate and the isovaltrate compounds which contribute to the sedating and relaxing effects of valerian root.

Relax on a Budget, Naturally 

  • Sleep aid – Valerian root is most commonly used as a sedative to address anxiety, tension, excitability and the other causes of insomnia.
  • Stomach problem relief – Valerian root is also used as a digestive remedy.
  • Easily available – Valerian root pills and tablets can be purchased without a prescription, at pharmacies, health food stores and online. If you prefer valerian root tea, it can be found at traditional Chinese food stores and online.
  • Stress relief – Valerian root is a great way to relieve headaches, relax, decompress and de-stress.
  • Affordable: Unlike many supplements, valerian root is inexpensive.

Recipes And Remedies

With a wide variety of applications, valerian root has been considered a “cure-all herbal medicine.”

  • Cramps – Mix valerian root with dried cramp bark, chamomile, wild yam root, California poppy, skullcap, motherwort, and licorice for relief from cramps.
  • Insomnia – Mix six drops or half teaspoon each of valerian root, passion flower, hops and chamomile to make a tincture. Put two teaspoons of the tincture into a glass of water or juice and drink before sleeping.
  • Stress relief – Mix 1 teaspoon of dried valerian root with 2 tablespoons of fresh mint leaves and let steep in hot water for several hours. Drink no more than 3 times a day.
  • Cough – Mix two parts each of slippery elm bark, valerian root, comfrey root, cherry bark and licorice root; one part each of ginger root and cinnamon bark; four parts of fennel seeds; and 1/8 part orange peel. Boil and strain the tea and add honey to make a homemade cough syrup.

Potential Side Effects

Valerian root is known to be a natural sedative.

  • Diuretic:  Although valerian root can help you sleep, it can also disrupt sleep. Valerian root is a diuretic, which could also keep you up at night.
  • Giddiness and disorientation: When taken in large excessive doses.
  • Medication interaction – Valerian root may inhibit the effectiveness of some prescription drugs. If you are already using prescription drugs for anxiety, you should not take valerian root supplements. It should not be taken with barbiturates and benzodiazepines such as Ativan, Valium, and Xanax.
  • Withdrawal symptoms if stopped suddenly – It has been reported that suddenly stopping the use of valerian root may be a shock to the body.
  • Depressant – Since valerian root has sedating effects, people may feel drowsy after taking and it can cause mental dullness. Do not take valerian root before driving.
  • Headaches and agitation – There is a report that prolonged use of valerian root can cause headaches and agitation.
  • Sleepiness and loss of concentration – Valerian root may include sleepiness in the daytime, difficulty in concentrating, and sometimes memory lapses or loss.

Pregnant women should not take valerian root as there has not been sufficient tests to determine its effects.

It’s been around for thousands of years. Some consider valerian root to be a miracle herb due to its ability to treat various ailments. Very relaxing, valerian root may be a good alternative for sedatives.

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