Valerian (Valeriana officinalis), has long history of use as a sleep aid and sedative dating to the time of the Ancient Greek physician Hippocrates (ca. 460-370 B.C.). Today, valerian remains a very popular herbal supplement for the treatment of anxiety, insomnia, sleep disorders, restlessness form nervous disorders, and fibromyalgia (as a bath).
Valerian has been used for thousands of years as a sleep aid, and unlike many prescription tranquilizers and sedatives, valerian root is not addictive. Valerian also helps you sleep without interfering with REM sleep, so there is no dealing with the “hangover” often associated with sleep aids. If you are trying to withdraw from the use of “sleeping pills” use valerian to help you sleep after you have tapered the dose of the sleeping pill. In addition to being used for the treatment of insomnia and other sleep disorders, Valerian has also been used to treat anxiety and gastrointestinal pain caused by irritable bowel syndrome. It has also been used in alternative medicine to treat symptoms such as nervous tension, excitability, and stress, as well as intestinal colic or cramps and as a muscle relaxant.
Dried valerian roots are prepared as teas (infusions) or tinctures, and dried plant materials and extracts are put into capsules or tablets. As a tea, the recommended dosage is two to three grams dried valerian root per cup; it can be taken once to several times daily.
Valerian is considered generally safe, and unlike many prescription sleep-aids, valerian is non-habit forming and will not make you feel groggy or hung-over the next morning. However, it may slightly
impair judgment and motor-skills for up to three hours after consumption. Adverse effects may include headache and an upset stomach, but these are rare.
When dried, valerian root has a strong unpleasant odor described as "dirty socks". this odor can be mitigated by blending with other aromatic herbs such as lavender and rosemary. Often, valerian is combined with other herbs traditionally known to promote sedation or sleep, such as, Chamomile, passion flower, hops, and lemon balm.
"Questions and Answers About Valerian for Insomnia and Other Sleep Disorders". Office of Dietary Supplements. National Institutes of Health. 2006-04-13. Retrieved 2007-04-11.
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"Valerian (Valeriana officinalis L.)". Medline Plus. 2006-10-01. Retrieved 2007-04-12.
Schmitz M, Jäckel M (1998). "[Comparative study for assessing quality of life of patients with exogenous sleep disorders (temporary sleep onset and sleep interruption disorders) treated with a hops-valarian preparation and a benzodiazepine drug]". Wien Med Wochenschr (in German) 148 (13): 291–8. PMID 9757514.
Bent S, Padula A, Moore D, Patterson M, Mehling W (2006). "Valerian for sleep: a systematic review and meta-analysis". Am. J. Med. 119 (12): 1005–12. doi:10.1016/j.amjmed.2006.02.026. PMID 17145239.
* This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
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