Valerian Root – Health Benefits, Uses, and Side Effects
Valerian is a flowering herb. Its root is mainly dried and used for medicinal purposes.
Its Latin name is Valeriana officinalis and belongs to the Caprifoliaceae family.
It is mostly used in disorders related to sleep like Insomnia and also psychological issues since its root has a hypnotic, sedative and anxiolytic effect.
It is native to Europe and Asia. It is also found in some parts of North America.
Valerian, Garden Heliotrope, Common Valerian
Tagara, Nata, Baalaka, Sugandhabala.
Health Benefits of Valerian Root
- Its root extracts have a major effect on the induction of sleep and improvement of its quality. It is a mild sedative and sleep-promoting agent and is used as an alternative for synthetic sedatives.
- It acts as a Tranquillizer and helps in reducing the anxiety, tension, agitation, and fear.
- It works as a hypnotic and a natural relaxant to the higher nerve centers in the brain.
- It relieves the nervous tension, restlessness, and palpitations.
- It is also used in conditions like headaches, anxiety, and migraine.
- It helps in the alleviation of menstrual pain.
- It is a great nervine tonic.
- It strengthens the eye-sight and improves vision.
- Its volatile oil shows anti-inflammatory activities in the body due to the presence of bornyl acetate.
- It deals with catarrh, cold and flu.
- It also possesses anti-cancer and anti-viral properties due to the presence of Caffeic acid.
- It shows antipyretic and anti-microbial properties.
- The plant is reported for antibiotics, antiamoebic, analgesic and mild CNS depressant activities.
- The root is reported as antispasmodic, diuretic, carminative and stimulant.
Uses of Valerian Root
- Its root extract is used for treating insomnia. A dosage of 300-600 mg is said to be the best for improving the sleep quality of a person. Its continuous use for a month or two can give you miraculous results. It can be used as an alternative for sleeping pills. Since it is a natural alternative, it is really effective and healthy.
- You can consume 120-200 mg of powdered valerian root in cases of anxiety disorders.
- It is used as anodyne, bactericide, carminative, CNS depressant.
- It is also used to alleviate menopausal and post-menopausal symptoms. Its consumption in the dosage of 600-1200 mg is said to reduce the severity of these symptoms.
- It helps in relieving Intestinal cramps.
- It is also used in the condition of a bronchial spasm.
- It is also used for muscle and joint spasm.
- It also helps in the treatment of convulsions, tremors and epilepsy attacks.
- Due to the presence of terpenes, it is also used in the aromatherapy treatments giving a soothing effect to the nerves, releasing tensions in the body and alleviating the stress.
- It is used to treat the hyperactivation of the neurons or nerve cells (that cause stress and other psychological disorders) with the help of Gamma-aminobutyric acid.
- At low doses, valerian enhances the binding of flunitrazepam, but at high doses, it inhibits binding of the drug.
- Valerian is one of the most effective remedies in the treatment of neurosis and also deals with Hypochondriasis.
- It is also used to deal with hysteria (feeling of over excitement) and neuralgia (shocking or irritating pain).
- It is also used to treat neurasthenia, numbness, polyps, sores, trauma, worms and in wounds.
- Its rootstock is stimulant, antispasmodic. It is beneficial in advanced stages of fever and inflammations, hysteria, epilepsy, cholera, dyspepsia, toothache, skin diseases, falling of hairs, splenopathy, pharyngitis, leprosy and general debility.
Research on Valerian Root
Originally it was thought that valepotriates were responsible for the herbs sedative effect, but, later on, an aqueous extract of the root has also been shown to have a sedative effect.
Since valepotriates are not soluble in water, it was concluded that valerenic acid is also the chemical factor responsible for the sedative effect of the herb.
Most commercial extracts in Western herbal are water-soluble extracts standardized for valerenic acids. Large doses of valepotriates from the herb decreased benzodiazepines and diazepam withdrawal symptoms in rats
Effective in following diseases according to Ayurvedic Aspect:
- Ardita (Facial paralysis)
- Pakshaghata (Paralysis),
- Unmada (Mania)
- Apasmara (Epilepsy)
- Sandhivata (Osteoarthritis)
- Amavata (Rheumatoid arthritis)
- Agnimandya (Dyspepsia)
- Udarshoola (stomach ache),
- Jalodara (Ascites)
- Kushtha (Leprosy)
- Visha Chikitsa (venom poisoning)
- Valerian is contraindicated in patients who are pregnant or lactating. It also should not be administered to children less than 12 years.
- Valerian slows down the central nervous system. Anesthesia and other medications used during surgery also affect the central nervous system. The combined effects might be harmful.
- The compounds in valerian produce CNS depression therefore; they should not be used with other depressants, such as benzodiazepines, barbiturates, opiates or antihistamine drugs.
Side Effects Of Valerian Root
- Trouble sleeping
- Mental dullness
- Morning drowsiness
- Hepatotoxicity is a chronic side effect, which may be due to idiosyncratic reactions. So if you have a weak liver, try to avoid its consumption.
- Some people experience dry mouth ,vivid dreams and drowsiness.
- Other side effects include breathing problems or chest tightness, chest pain, skin hives, rash, or itchy or swollen skin.
- In liver problems it can cause loss of appetite, upper stomach pain, feeling of tiredness and jaundice. So it is better to avoid its use if you are suffering from Liver disease.
Increase in dose of Valerian may lead to increase in adverse effects.
It is not proved whether valerian is effective in treating any medical condition. Medicinal use of this product has not been approved by the FDA.
Valerian should not be used solely.