Valdrian® Valerian Root (Valeriana officinalis)
Valerian is a common perennial herb which favours damp habitats throughout Europe and north to the Arctic Circle. Reaching a height of up to 1.5 metres it has toothed leaves and clusters of numerous small funnel-shaped flowers which are white tinged with pink. It has a short rootstock with long creeping runners.
Valerian root contains volatile oils (including valerianic acid) and valepotriates which are the constituents responsible for its sedative and relaxant properties. It has long been prescribed by herbalists as a treatment for insomnia. During the Second World War, shell-shock and ‘bombing neurosis’ were treated with valerian.
Valerian is primarily used to reduce tension and anxiety, over-excitability and hysterical states. A valuable treatment for insomnia, its sedative effect is due to the valepotriates and isovaleric acid, which is also responsible for the characteristic smell of valerian.
The valepotriates have a regulatory effect on the autonomic nervous system and an anti-spasmodic action too, making valerian an appropriate remedy where pain is associated with tension. It helps relieve period pains and can be of benefit in migraine and rheumatism.
Cats are attracted by the smell valerian, and it is known to induce a state of ecstasy in them. Rats seem to like it too and it has been used in the past by rat-catchers as bait.
Valerian in combination with St. John’s Wort has been reported to be more effective than diazepam in treating symptoms of anxiety when given to 100 patients for two weeks in a double-blind clinical trial.
Prolonged use or high doses of Valerian may cause headaches, dizziness and palpitations. It can also enhance the action of sleep-inducing drugs and therefore should not be taken in conjunction with this type of medication.
NB: The above information is for guidance only, and is not intended to take the place of diagnosis and treatment by a qualified practitioner. Some herbs may interact adversely with other medication, so make sure that your health professional is aware of everything you are taking.