Valerian root has been used for centuries, dating back to ancient Greece and Rome. If you haven’t heard of valerian root before, there’s a strong chance that you might have had it before. This root is a very common ingredient used in sleep-promoting tea blends all over the world.
For those suffering from insomnia or just having trouble falling asleep, this herb is known to help ease insomnia, anxiety and nervous restlessness.
Botanical Name and Family of Valerian
Valerian is known botanically as Valeriana officinalis. It belongs to the Caprifoliaceae or Honeysuckle family and is commonly referred to as Garden Valerian and All-Heal.
What Is Valerian?
Valerian is a flowering plant that was used to yield a perfume as early as the 16th century. Although this herb is native to Asia and Europe, it was later introduced to North America and is now widely used all over the world.
Valerian root is a truly ancient herb, considering it has been used during the times of Hippocrates and Galen where it was being prescribed as a remedy for insomnia. The Native Americans used valerian root to heal ulcers and wounds, as well as a cough remedy.
The Greek physician Dioscorides used this herb as a remedy for poison as well as a cure for epilepsy during the middle ages, but this plant was most noteworthy for its treatment of nervous disorders.
Active Ingredients Found in Valerian Root
Valerian root contains several important alkaloids such as:
This herb also contains isovaleric acid, iridoid compounds, gamma amino butyric acid, flavonones and sesquiterpenes.
Valerian also has high amounts of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which is a neurotransmitter responsible for the sedative effects of the plant.
Health Benefits of Valerian Root
Traditionally, valerian root was used in treating insomnia and anxiety disorders, but it is also used to treat the following conditions:
- Hysterical states
- Mild depression
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
Sometimes, valerian root is used to treat joint and muscle pain and menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes.
How to Use Valerian Root
The extracts of valerian root are commercially available in the form of capsules. However, they can also be used in the form of teas and tinctures in suggested dosages of 20-40 drops three times a day or as recommended by a herbal practitioner.
Side Effects of Valerian Root
Common side effects of valerian root include headaches, sluggishness and uneasiness. Since this herb slows the functioning of the nervous system, it can interfere with anesthetic agents used in surgery.
It’s important to speak to your doctor to see if this plant would be beneficial for you before consuming it.
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