Ingredients

Valerian

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Written by Carl Lombard

What is Valerian?

Valerian is a botanical extract derived from the roots of Valeriana officinalis, which is widely used in herbal medicine for insomnia, anxiety and digestive and urinary problems. Valerian has been linked to rare instances of clinically apparent liver injury.

Valerian (va ler’ ee an) is the common name of the plant genus Valeriana, several species of which are used in herbal medicine, most typically Valeriana officinalis. Valerian has been used for centuries in Europe, usually for digestive and urinary problems. The name valerian derives from the Latin word valere, which means “to be in good health.” Valerian is claimed to have sedative, hypnotic, anxiolytic, anticonvulsant, antispasmotic and antidepressant activities. Presently, it is used most commonly as a sleeping aid and for therapy of stress. The basis for its sedative effects is believed to be valepotriates (which are terpene alcohols) and volatile oils (including monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes). Components of valerian are believed to interact with the gamma amino butyric acid (GABA) receptor in a manner similar to the benzodiazepines. The typical dosage of valerian is 300 to 600 mg at bedtime for sleep or taken 3 times daily for stress. Valerian is found in many relaxation drinks. Valerian has few side effects, which are mostly mild and transient and include sedation, dizziness and withdrawal symptoms on stopping.

From livertox.nlm.nih.gov

Available Forms

The root of the plant is used as medicine and is pressed into fresh juice or freeze-dried to form powder.

Valerian fluid extracts and tinctures are sold in alcohol or alcohol-free (glycerite) bases. Powdered valerian is available in capsule and tablet form, and as a tea.

Valerian root has a sharp odor. It is often combined with other calming herbs, including passionflower (Passiflora incarnata), hops (Humulus lupulus), lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora), and kava (Piper methysticum) to mask the scent. However, kava has been associated with liver damage, so avoid it.

References

http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/valerian

Benefits

“Valerian has been used medicinally since the times of early Greece and Rome; Hippocrates wrote about its uses. Historically, valerian was used to treat nervousness, trembling, headaches, and heart palpitations.”

“Today, valerian is used as a dietary supplement for insomnia, anxiety, and other conditions such as depression and menopause symptoms.”

“The roots and rhizomes (underground stems) of valerian are used to make capsules, tablets, and liquid extracts, as well as teas.”

Valerian is a popular alternative to prescription medications for sleep problems because it is considered to be both safe and gentle. Some studies show that it helps people fall asleep faster and feel that they have a better quality of sleep.”

“One of the best designed studies found that valerian was no more effective than placebo for 14 days, but by 28 days valerian greatly improved sleep for those who were taking it. Some researchers now think you may need to take valerian for a few weeks before it begins to work. However, in another study, valerian was more effective than placebo almost immediately.”

“One of the best designed studies found that valerian was no more effective than placebo for 14 days, but by 28 days valerian greatly improved sleep for those who were taking it. Some researchers now think you may need to take valerian for a few weeks before it begins to work. However, in another study, valerian was more effective than placebo almost immediately.”

“Valerian is often combined with other sedating herbs, such as hops (Humulus lupulus) and lemon balm (Melissa officianalis), to treat insomnia. In one study of postmenopausal women, a combination of valerian and lemon balm helped reduce symptoms of insomnia.”

References

https://nccih.nih.gov/health/valerian

http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/valerian

Dosage

Valerian is often standardized to contain 0.3 to 0.8% valerenic or valeric acid, although researchers aren’t sure that these are the active ingredients.

“Don’t give valerian to a child without first talking to your doctor”

“For insomnia, valerian may be taken 1 to 2 hours before bedtime, or up to 3 times in the course of the day, with the last dose near bedtime. It may take a few weeks before the effects are felt.

  • Tea: Pour 1 cup boiling water over 1 teaspoonful (2 to 3 g) of dried root, steep 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Tincture (1:5): 1 to 1 1/2 tsp (4 to 6 mL)
  • Fluid extract (1:1): 1/2 to 1 tsp (1 to 2 mL)
  • Dry powdered extract (4:1): 250 to 600 mg
  • For anxiety, 120 to 200 mg, 3 to 4 times per day

Once sleep improves, keep taking valerian for 2 to 6 weeks.”

References

http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/valerian

Safety Issues

“Studies suggest that valerian is generally safe for use by most healthy adults for short periods of time.”

“Few side effects have been reported in studies of valerian. Those that have occurred include headache, dizziness, itching, and digestive disturbances.”

“Because it is possible (though not proven) that valerian might have a sleep-inducing effect, it should not be taken along with alcohol or sedatives.”

References

https://nccih.nih.gov/health/valerian

From Wikipedia

“Valerian (Valeriana officinalis, Caprifoliaceae) is a perennial flowering plant, with heads of sweetly scented pink or white flowers that bloom in the summer and can reach a height of 5 feet. Valerian flower extracts were used as a perfume in the 16th century.

Native to Europe and parts of Asia, valerian has been introduced into North America. The flowers are frequently visited by many fly species, especially hoverflies of the genus Eristalis.[1] It is consumed as food by the larvae of some Lepidoptera (butterfly and moth) species including the grey pug.

Other names used for this plant include garden valerian (to distinguish it from other Valeriana species), garden heliotrope (although not related to Heliotropium), and all-heal (which is also used for plants in the genus Stachys). Red valerian, often grown in gardens, is also sometimes referred to as “valerian”, but is a different species (Centranthus ruber) from the same family and not very closely related.

Crude extract of valerian root is sold as a dietary supplement in the form of capsules. Valerian root may have sedative and anxiolytic effects.”

-Wikipedia

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Carl Lombard

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