Anxiety Attacks and Insomnia are just a few of the conditions that Valerian Root can alleviate. Please, read-on…
History Of Valerian Root
As far back as ancient Greece, Hippocrates, the father of Western medicine, noted the plants medicinal properties. The use of
valerian root for anxiety and insomnia was also popular in 16th century Europe, where the hardy perennial flowering plant grows. The plant blossoms with pink or white flowers in the summer months and also grows in parts of Asia and now has been introduced to North America. Also called setwall, the Valeriana officinalis is the most common of the many species of the plant used in natural medicine.
The valerian plant has also been used in ayurveda, India’s traditional medicine, since 200 A.D. With the return of homeopathic medicine, many have tried valerian root for anxiety, depression, stress and a non-habit forming sedative. The calming effect of the plants has also been reported to help with nervous tension, arthritis and digestive issues. For use as a dietary supplement, the roots and stems of the plant can be prepared in a variety of styles for ingestion.
The root and underground stems of the plant, as well as the above ground stems, are dried and ground to be used as a tea, tincture, liquid extract, capsules and tablets. The tea and capsules usually contain the actual plant. Health food stores often give customers the option of valerian supplements from regular farms or organically grown options. Chemists can also extract the essence of the plants properties for use as a tincture or tablet. Like many supplements, different crops will vary in strength of the medicinal elements so some manufacturers offer “standardized” doses that stabilize the content.
How Valerian Root Works
Although health practitioners do not yet know exactly what active element gives valerian root its calming properties, some researchers point to the plants compounds interacting with the GABA neurotransmitter receptors. Much like prescription barbiturates, the valerian root supplement can calm the nerves and help users fall asleep. In some cases, the supplement has been used as an anticonvulsant for epilepsy.
Valerian Root Dosages and Possible Side Effects
The dosage for using valerian root for anxiety can vary from 50 to 150 mg three times a day in any of the available forms: capsule, extract or tea. For help with insomnia, a larger dose from valerian tea (300-600mg) can be taken an hour before bedtime. A health practitioner or nutritionist can make a specific recommendation based on individual symptoms. There are only rare instances of side effects from valerian root but some have reported headache, upset stomach, lightheadedness and daytime drowsiness. Since valerian does have an effect on the brain and central nervous symptom, it can interact with a variety of prescription medications such as barbiturates, SSRI medications, codeine and even cold medicine. The supplement may also have an effect on medications used for allergies, cholesterol and some cancer medications. Patients should always consult with their physician before trying valerian root for anxiety, depression or insomnia.
Valerian has been approved for use as a food by the Food and Drug Administration, like many dietary supplements, but valerian has not been evaluated or approved as a drug treatment. The FDA has listed Valerian as “generally regarded as safe,” but young children, pregnant or nursing women should not use the supplement.