What is valerian?

Valerian, also known as valerenic acid and valeriana officinalis, is a flowering plant in the family Valerianaceae. The plant is native to Europe and Asia Minor, where it grows in damp places such as swamps and riverbanks. In ancient times, the root was used as a sedative and to induce sleep. This article will discuss how this herb works for your brain and your body, as well as as its potential side effects.

Can valerian root help you sleep?

Valerian root is one of the many recommended sleep aids

Valerian root is a popular natural sleep aid. Some people believe that valerian root can help you sleep better, but there is limited scientific evidence to support this claim. Valerian root is thought to work by increasing the amount of GABA, a neurotransmitter that helps promote relaxation, in the brain. It is available as over-the-counter dietary supplements and can be taken in pill form or as a tea.

How does valerian root work?

Valerian treatment

Valerian root is a herbal supplement that is used to treat insomnia, anxiety, and other conditions. Many researchers believe that it is not just one chemical that is responsible for valerian’s effects, but a combination of the plant’s components.

According to the systematic review of the National Institutes of Health, several of valerian’s chemical compounds have individually demonstrated sedative properties in animal studies. It is also uncertain how valerian affects the brain. The most common theory is that valerian extract stimulates nerve cells to release a chemical called gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA. In addition, valerian extract may block an enzyme that destroys GABA, which means that more GABA is available for a longer amount of time.

Effects on the brain

More recently, scientists have begun to study the effects of valerian root on the brain and have discovered that it may have beneficial effects on cognitive function and sleep quality. Valerian root appears to work by modulating levels of various neurotransmitters in the brain, including serotonin, GABA, and dopamine. Additionally, it has been shown to improve sleep quality by increasing slow-wave activity and reducing the time it takes to fall asleep.

Effects on the body

Valerian root is a plant that has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. The plant is native to Europe and Asia, but it can also be found in North America. Valerian root has a number of purported health benefits, including reducing anxiety and improving sleep quality. Preliminary research suggests that valerian root may also have beneficial effects on the body, including reducing inflammation and pain. However, more research is needed to confirm these findings.

How to take valerian root for sleep

Valerian root extract is among the nutritional and herbal supplements for sleep

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.

Other studies show that valerian reduces the time it takes to fall asleep and improves the quality of sleep. Unlike many prescription sleeping pills, valerian may have fewer side effects, such as morning drowsiness.

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.

Benefits of valerian root

Valerian root improves sleep quality

People use valerian root for a variety of potential health benefits. Herbal medicine practitioners have prescribed valerian root for insomnia and trouble sleeping for centuries. However, modern scientific studies have not proven the mild sedative effect of valerian root. Several studies suggest that the effect exists, but further research is needed.

The studies performed did show that valerian root may help people sleep better. The data did not meet scientific expectations for standard measures of sleep, or ranges of doses that explore valerian root’s effects fully.

In addition, randomized clinical trials showed that taking valerian root helped reduce both the severity and frequency of hot flashes in people going through menopause. Hot flashes cause sweating, rapid heartbeat, and sudden warmth that some find uncomfortable. Hormonal changes cause hot flashes.

Moreover, preliminary studies show that valerenic acid from valerian root may be the anxiety-reducing element of valerian root. In this early research, not only did this acid show anti-anxiety effects, but it also did not bind with benzodiazepine receptors in the brain. Research suggests that these receptors may be responsible for benzodiazepine addiction.

Valerian root side effects

Valerian extracts

The FDA (or other regulating agencies) do not monitor herbs and supplements for quality or purity. So, it is important to choose products from reliable sources. While further studies are needed to evaluate any potential long-term side effects, there have been very few reports of serious adverse events in connection to valerian.

According to the National Institutes of Health, the side effects most commonly reported by people involved in valerian clinical trials are headaches, dizziness, itchiness, and gastrointestinal disturbances.

However, these side effects cannot be directly attributed to valerian, as some of the people who were taking placebo supplements also reported side effects.

Despite valerian’s observed gentleness, women who are pregnant or breast-feeding are advised to avoid it because no studies have been carried out on the potential risks of valerian to a fetus or an infant. Children under 3 years old should not be given valerian either as its effects on early development have not been evaluated.

Moreover, the sedative and depressant properties of drugs such as benzodiazepines and central nervous system depressants might combine with those of valerian, resulting in grogginess or more severe adverse effects.

Even if one is not taking any other medications, it is always a good idea to talk to a doctor before taking any supplements, including valerian. The doctor will provide insight into whether valerian is a good choice, and might also suggest brands and dosages they believe to be most safe and effective.

Bottom line

In conclusion, valerian root is one of the numerous herbal remedies that has been used for centuries to treat a variety of health conditions. It is available in supplement form and can be found in many health food stores. Valerian root is a safe and effective herb that may provide relief from anxiety, insomnia, and other health conditions.


What does valerian do to your body?

Valerian root is an herbal supplement that is often taken to improve sleep. Some people also take it to relieve anxiety or stress. Valerian root contains valerenic acid, which has dual effects. It works as a sedative in the body and also seems to influence the brain. It has been used for centuries to help with anxiety, but there is some evidence that it can also be effective for sleep problems. Valerian root is available in a few different forms, including capsules, tinctures and extracts.

Does valerian really work for sleep?

Valerian is an herb that has been used for centuries as a natural remedy for sleep problems. Does it really work? A recent study suggests that, for some people, it does help improve sleep quality. The study looked at the effects of valerian on people with chronic insomnia who were not taking any other medications.

Participants were randomly assigned to take either valerian or a placebo for four weeks. Those who took valerian reported better sleep quality and fewer symptoms of insomnia than those who took the placebo. Valerian may work by reducing anxiety and improving relaxation. More research is needed to determine the long-term effects of valerian on sleep quality.

Is valerian root good for anxiety?

Valerian root is a popular supplement for anxiety and insomnia. Though research on the herb is limited, valerian root may be effective for treating anxiety when taken in low doses. Valerian root has been shown to reduce anxiety symptoms without causing significant side effects.

A study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine showed that valerian root was an effective treatment for generalized anxiety disorder. The study participants were given either valerian root or a placebo for eight weeks. The participants who took valerian root had a significant reduction in anxiety symptoms. Valerian root is also effective at reducing stress and promoting relaxation.

Who should not take valerian?

Valerian root (Valeriana officinalis) is a natural sedative and anxiety reliever that can be helpful for people with insomnia, anxiety, and other sleep disorders. However, there are some people who should not take valerian root. Pregnant women should avoid taking valerian, as it can stimulate the uterus and may cause a miscarriage.

In addition, people with liver disease or epilepsy should also avoid taking valerian. People with high blood pressure should be careful to avoid taking too much valerian root; it can cause blood pressure to go too low. Individuals with hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism may also have an increased risk of side effects from valerian.

How long does it take for valerian root to work for anxiety?

Valerian root (Valeriana officinalis) is one of the many herbal supplements used to treat anxiety and insomnia. Some people report that it takes a week or two for the valerian root to work, while others say that it takes a few months. Valerian root is available in capsule, tablet, and liquid form.