Valerian, a member of the Valerianaceae family, is a perennial plant. Its scientific name is Valeriana Officinalis. In Latin, Valere means ‘to be strong’. Valerian is on the opposite side of the fragrance scale with a distinctive unpleasant smell. The high medicinal value of valerian has been recognized way back since the second century and is used to treat various ailments. However, the method of usage has changed significantly over time. It grows in Britain, Northern Europe, China, and South and North America.
Common Names: Garden valerian, Garden heliotrope, Setwall, All-heal, Cut-Heal, and Vandal Root.
Scientific Name: Valeriana officinalis
Health Benefits of Valerian
1. Natural remedy for sleep disorders
Its root is a tranquilizer and therefore helps to fall asleep fast and also, improves the quality of sleep. Unlike other medications, it induces sleep without any side effects like feeling drowsy in the morning. The root helps to alleviate insomnia with its muscle relaxing & sedative properties.
2. Alleviates Depression and Anxiety
Valerian works by raising the amount of a chemical called gamma aminobutyric acid, GABA, in the brain. GABA helps to stabilize the nerve cells and get rid of the anxiety and stress. The more important point is that unlike the psychotropic drugs the anti-anxiety effects of the herb comes without any significant side effects.
3. Eases Menstrual Cramps
Menstrual cramps are a common issue among women, especially, one who suffers from PMS. The sedative and antispasmodic properties of the root make it an excellent choice to get rid of the menstrual cramps naturally without depending on painkillers. According to the intensity of the cramps, drink 1 cup of Valerian tea 1 or 2 times daily for 3 days prior to the date of your period. See the difference.
4. Lowers Blood Pressure
The antidiuretic and hypotensive properties of Valerian root aid in regulating the blood pressure effectively. Likewise, the same active components that make Valerian root an excellent choice for alleviating the stress and anxiety can also help properly regulate the blood pressure.
5. Treats skin issues
With its antibacterial properties, Valerian oil, which is an essential oil is extracted through steam distillation. It is used to treat several skin issues.
- It helps to clean out bacteria from the wounds, cuts, bruises, etc.
- Helps to block thriving of bacteria that cause issues like acne, eczema, psoriasis, etc.
- Soothes and calms inflamed areas.
- Helps to prevent the onset of wrinkles from forming
- It helps to maintain the skin’s youthful look.
Mix about 2-3 drops of valerian oil with equal amounts of carrier oil (oil used to dilute essential oils) and apply it on the affected parts. Otherwise, you can also put 2-3 drops of the oil in any of the everyday skincare products.
6. Alleviate annoying symptoms of menopause
Valerian root is effective in treating menopausal hot flashes. Taking 255 mg capsule 3 times per day will help to bring down the frequency and intensity of hot flashes associated with menopause.
7. Effective in curing sciatica
It is effective in curing sciatica, especially if the cause of sciatica pain is a tight or misaligned muscle rather than issues with the sciatic nerve. The volatile oil in its root helps to reduce pain by reducing the tension and relaxing the muscle.
8. Maintaining the health of the heart
Valerian root helps with the cardiovascular system. It can make your blood vessels stronger and increase its elasticity. As already explained above, it can also help to normalize the blood pressure, which is also beneficial for the heart.
9. Relieve Migraine & Headaches
The relaxing and soothing properties of the root will bring down the frequency of migraines and headaches as these properties effectively treats the triggers for headaches like anxiety and stress
10. Relieve Lower Back Pain
Its root is very effective in treating lower back pain. 1 cup of Valerian root tea per day helps you to say goodbye to lower back pain.
Which part of valerian is beneficial?
The parts used include the root and the rhizomes (underground stem). Volatile oils like valerenic acids and less volatile sesquiterpenes and valepotriates are the active components in the root. These key ingredients are responsible for the calming and healing effect of the the root on the body’s central nervous system.
How to use Valerian?
The root of the plant is used fresh or dried. Fresh roots are pressed into juice. It is also available in several forms, including capsules, tablets, and tea. For this Valerian root is dried and powdered.
- Capsule: Dried and powdered roots and dried extracts are used to make capsules and tablets. It is available alone in capsule form or combines with other similar herbs.
- Tea: Add 1 teaspoon (2 to 3 grams) of the powder or dried root to 1 cup of boiling water and steep for 5 to 10 minutes. Valerian root tea bags are also available in the market. Steep it for 5 minutes for good result.
- Tinctures: Tincturing with fresh root gives the best results but dried valerian will also work when the fresh root is not available.
- Poultice: A poultice made from the dried valerian root a little hot water will help to get a splinter out.
- Oil: Through a process of steam distillation, valerian oil can be extracted from valerian root.
The herb should only be used for two to three weeks. After that, it is important to take a break of the same duration.
The dosage depends on the cause. The number of doses per day can also vary with the individual. Over-dosage cause side effects. Normally recommended dosage is as follows:
- Tea: 2 to 3 cups per day
- Tincture: 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoon 5 times per day.
- Juice: 1/2 to 1 teaspoon two times per day.
- Powder: 120 to 200 mg three times per day
What are the side effects of valerian?
The herb is safe for most people if used in the recommended dosage for a short time. At the same time, it is not devoid of any side effects either.
- Continual use of Valerian more than three weeks can cause depression and headaches in some people.
- If used over very long periods of time, sometimes individual shows withdrawal symptoms
- In a small percentage of the people (roughly 5 – 7%), Valerian has an opposite impact – it can cause agitation instead of relaxation, giddiness instead of being steady and energetic, restlessness instead of calmness, and sleeplessness instead of drowsiness.
- If it is taken along with anything with sleep-inducing properties, severe tiredness can result.
- It can also interfere with some antihistamines, anti-fungal drugs
- If taken along with alcohol, the chances of side effects like drowsiness and dizziness increases.
Are there any safety concerns or risk factors associated with valerian?
- Small children should avoid using this herb.
- Individuals over 65, should start with a very small dose.
- Though no risks to the fertility or fetal development are identified yet, women who are pregnant and mothers who are breastfeeding should not consume Valerian without medical advice because its impact on the pregnancy is not fully evaluated so far.
- Because Valerian can make one drowsy, do not take any forms of valerian root prior to driving, or before doing any activities that require alertness.
- Stop taking the root at least 2 weeks earlier than a surgery.
- Avoid using the herb if you have liver issues.