HISTORY OF VALERIAN
Valerian, scientifically known as Valeriana Officinalis, gets its name from the Latin valere, meaning strong. According to age-old tales, herbalists in the 10th century named this plant for its overwhelming odor. It’s also sometimes called garden valerian, phu, or all-heal.
Valerian root is native to Europe and Asia and naturalized in North America. This perennial plant has been documented for use since Ancient Greek and Roman times, though it was likely used long before then.
USES + BENEFITS OF VALERIAN ROOT
VALERIAN ROOT FOR SLEEP
Good news for insomniacs everywhere: Of all the benefits valerian root is known for, its greatest is its incomparable ability to achieve a good night's sleep. Valerian contains terpene alcohols called valepotriates, plus monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes, in the form of volatile oils. These actives impact the gamma amino butyric acid receptor in humans, producing a sedative effect.
Valerian has been shown to improve both sleep quality and sleep latency (aka the amount of time it takes you to fall asleep). By contributing to quality slumber, valerian root for sleep can help you feel refreshed and revived upon waking, which is always a welcome side effect. You can take valerian root for both acute and chronic insomnia.
VALERIAN ROOT FOR STRESS
Thankfully, there’s equally good news for those of us who are prone to stress. Unsurprisingly, the qualities mentioned above make valerian root a winning herbal choice for stress management. It stands to reason that a root described as sedating and hypnotic would be a force against tense times.
While it works on the nervous system rather than the musculoskeletal system, you might be fooled given its full-body relaxant effect. It’s possible that the regulatory effect of valepotriates on the autonomic nervous system may contribute to its ability to combat stress.
However, of all the 150-plus constituents in valerian, none are proven to be singularly responsible for its superpowers. The reasoning is most likely due to the fact that specific compounds that inform the complex chemistry of the plant work together to create valerian’s healing profile. Personally, I see it as teamwork at its finest.
VALERIAN ROOT VS. MELATONIN
Now let’s discuss taking valerian with another common natural sleep aid: melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland, which you can also take as a supplement or sleep.
Simply put, melatonin can help you fall asleep while valerian root will help you stay asleep. It’s safe and effective to combine the two natural sleep aids.. You can also choose to alternate between the two from one night to the next.
IS VALERIAN ROOT SAFE?
Consult your doctor before supplementing with valerian alongside other sleep medications, whether prescription or OTC. You also shouldn’t take it with alcohol.
It’s possible that valerian stays in the system for up to two weeks. It’s not considered to be addictive, though further studies are needed to make a conclusive claim. As with all herbs, use it safely and respectfully to benefit from its power and potential.
You shouldn’t take it if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, or within two weeks of surgery due to its effects on the central nervous system.
POTENTIAL SIDE EFFECTS
Valerian is generally safe. However, it can potentially cause a number of mild side effects including dizziness, headache, and digestive issues. It’s also been reported to induce vivid dreams which, depending on who you talk to, could be a precaution or a benefit.
Adults take 30-40 drops in a small amount of water. Take 1-2 times within 1 hour before bed. Shake well before use.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Whether you have ongoing battles with sleep or stress, or you just need some extra snooze support every once in a while, rest easy knowing valerian has you covered. We could sing its praises all day, but it’s getting late and we just took valerian to unwind. We love what this wonderful root has done for our sleep, and we know you will too.