Anxiety / Stress Complementary Medicine / Alternative Medicine Sleep / Sleep Disorders / Insomnia

Valerian root: What you should know

The root of the valerian plant Valeriana officinalis may be taken by people as a substitute. Valerian root can have a sedative effect and decrease anxiety, making it a common natural remedy for sleep aid and calmness promotion.

For some people, the Valerian root might work, but it’s not right for everyone. When taking valerian root, it is important to watch for any side effects.

An individual may consider discussing taking valerian root and treating any conditions they may have with a doctor.

The efficacy of valerian root is analyzed in this article and its uses , dosage, and more are discussed.

How does it work?

valerian root

In traditional and folk medicine, Valerian root is a popular herb. The herb has a calming effect that calms anxiety, allowing a person to rest, proponents claim.

A research in Frontiers in Neuroscience noted that valerian is known as an important herbal sedative by individuals around the world. Researchers, however, also do not fully comprehend the effects of the herb.

Root compounds tend to interact with essential components of the nervous system, such as a chemical messenger in the brain, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA).

A research published in BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies found that valerian root compounds, such as valerenic acid, are capable of interacting with GABA and its receptors to produce the anti-anxiety effect recorded.

This is close to how anti-anxiety prescription medications, such as diazepam (Valium), work.

However, how Valerian communicates with GABA is still a theory.

Other experts agree that through the action of its powerful antioxidants, valerian exerts its sedative and antianxiety influence in areas of the brain involved with stress and emotion, such as the amygdala and hippocampus.

Does it work for anxiety and sleep?

Valerian root is a known sedative and may help alleviate the symptoms of anxiety and insomnia in many individuals. The research on these results, however, is contradictory.

An analysis of Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine explored the impact of valerian on sleep of 17 separate papers.

The researchers noted that some studies have shown that valerian has improved sleep markers, such as average sleep time, and decreased insomnia severity.

They say, however, that the findings of other research contradict these findings, demonstrating that valerian has caused little to no difference in these symptoms.

It could be that outcomes differ from individual to individual or that other variables come into play.

A study in Nature and Sleep Chemistry, for instance, looked at a mixture of herbs.

The researchers found that, relative to people who did not take the supplement, individuals who took a herbal supplement containing valerian, hops, and jujube experienced substantially improved sleep markers.

The findings come from self-assessment, although this is promising. The impact of the valerian root on sleep in greater detail must be studied by researchers.

Some individuals also include valerian root, anecdotally, as a natural cure for symptoms of stress, anxiety , and depression.

A 2015 study noted that a valerian compound protected against markers of both physical and mental stress in animal studies.

This is significant because it is also closely linked to stress, fear , and anxiety and can affect other problems, such as sleep. Future research may help to investigate this argument as well.

Other uses

Although there is not much systematic research on these applications, some people use valerian root to relieve other symptoms.

Valerian may be suggested by advocates for problems such as:

  • menstrual cramps
  • stomach cramps
  • headaches and migraine headaches
  • Menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes

Some individuals can find valerian root to be successful in relieving these symptoms.

Much of the valerian study, however, focuses on its use as a compound for sedation, antioxidants, and anti-anxiety.

Dosage

Dosages can be hard to get right since valerian root is a herbal supplement. Many factors, such as growing conditions, age, and preparation of the plant, can affect the quality of the root and supplements.

There is no standardized way to have a proper dose because of this.

Using about 3 grams of dried valerian root and 1 cup of boiling water, many people produce a simple tea. Before drinking the tea, they allow the root to steep completely for at least 10 minutes.

For extracts and supplements, on the basis of their extraction processes or added ingredients, various manufacturers will have their own prescribed dosages.

In general, a valerian supplement’s recommended dose may be 160-600 milligrams a day. Some products can, however, contain stronger doses.

Depending on how deeply the person feels the effects of the herb, taking the herb about 30 minutes to 2 hours before bedtime might be best for sleep.

Throughout the day, taking smaller doses can have a gentler effect and benefit certain people with symptoms of anxiety.

Safety

In general, at the prescribed doses, people consider valerian root supplements to be safe.

According to the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS), however, there is not enough research on valerian root supplements to ensure they are safe.

They should speak to their doctor if a person is interested in taking valerian.

Some medicines can interact with the compounds in the plant, which might put a person at risk of side effects or complications.

Valerian, for example, can interact with drugs that have similar functions. The effects of other groups of drugs may theoretically increase this relationship, such as:

  • benzodiazepines
  • barbiturates
  • central nervous system depressants

In addition, other dietary supplements, such as melatonin, kava kava, and St. John’s wort, can interact with valerian.

Before using valerian root, anyone taking these medicines or supplements should speak to their doctor.

How long does it take to see effects?

While some individuals will very easily feel the effects of valerian root, many remember that when they take it for a week or two, the herb works best.

Research has not, however, thoroughly studied the long-term effects of valerian.

Anyone considering regular use of valerian should consult with their doctor.

Side effects

When a individual uses valerian, certain side effects can occur. The sedative effect of Valerian suggests that a common side effect could be sleepiness.

Although this is useful for getting to sleep at night, daytime sleepiness can interfere with the ability of a person to work. People who take valerian may want to decrease their dose if they experience daytime sleepiness.

Some individuals may also react to the root valerian. They can encounter, in these cases:

  • headaches
  • dizziness
  • itchy skin
  • upset stomach

Who should not take it?

Some people should avoid valerian root.

Valerian root, according to the ODS, may not be healthy to take while pregnant or breastfeeding.

Likewise, Valerian should be avoided by very young children under the age of 3 years. Even in older children , it is important to work with a doctor to find out in each case that the dose is minimally efficient.

People who use alcohol frequently should be mindful of any associations with sedatives, such as valerian, that they might have. They may wish to totally avoid alcohol or valerian.

Summary

Valerian root has been used by people as a natural sedative for many years.

Some evidence indicates that it can be beneficial for sleep, as well as for reducing the symptoms of brain stress and anxiety. Researchers, however, need to further examine the efficacy and protection of the herb.

The Food and Drug Administration ( FDA) does not monitor herbal supplements, so it is hard to determine the standardized use and dosage.

For everyone, Valerian could not be the answer. It should be avoided by individuals who are pregnant or breastfeeding, as should small children. Some individuals may encounter side effects or drug interactions.

Anyone contemplating the use of valerian root should first communicate with their doctor.