Treatments - Valerian Root
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What is Valerian Root?

The Greek physician Dioscorides recommended valerian for a host of medical problems, including digestive problems, nausea, liver problems, and even urinary tract disorders. Use of valerian for insomnia and nervous conditions has been common for many centuries. By the eighteenth century, it was an accepted sedative and was also used for nervous disorders associated with a restless digestive tract. The medicinal parts are the carefully dried underground parts and dried roots.

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What are the Uses of Valerian Root?
Insomnia and Nervous Conditions. The effects of valerian root in animal studies are sedative, anxiety relieving, and muscle relaxing. The main effect in humans is to reduce the time to sleep. It appears that prolongation of the neurotransmitter, GABA, may be responsible for its sedative actions. This also may explain how valerian helps people handle stress more effectively. Double-blind studies have found that valerian is more effective than placebo and as effective as standard sleep medications for people with insomnia.(1,2,3) Generally, valerian makes sleep more restful as well as making the transition to sleep easier.

Valerian is approved by Germany’s Commission E for nervousness and insomnia.

What are the recommended Preparations/Dosages?
Varies by manufacturer. As a sleep aid, some suggest 200 - 500 milligrams thirty minutes before bedtime. For restlessness, some suggest 100 to 200 milligrams three times a day. These doses are standardized to 0.8 - 1.0% valerenic acid per dose.

What about Side Effects?
Valerian is not addictive. No health hazards are known with proper administration in appropriate doses. One theoretical concern is impairment of the ability to drive or operate machinery. Valerian root may potentiate the effect of CNS depressants and should be used in caution with barbiturates, benzodiazepines or alcohol.

1. Leathwood PD, Chauffard F, Heck E, Munoz-Box R. Aqueous extract of valerian root (Valeriana officinalis L) improves sleep quality in man. Pharmacol Biochem Behav 1982;17:65-71.
2. Leathwood PD, Chauffard F. Aqueous extract of valerian reduces latency to fall asleep in man. Planta Med 1985;51:144-8.
3. Vorbach EU, Gortelmeyer R, Brunin J: Therapie von Insomnien. Wirksamkeit und Vertraeglichkeit eine Baldrianpraeparats. Psychopharmakotherapie 1996;3:109-115.