fresh brown valerian root bark in white background

We love it for..

Insomnia, Stress Relief

Valerian helps reduce stress. Its name is thought to be derived from the Latin valere, “to be well.”

Why We Love It

Valerian has been used as a sedative and relaxant at least since Roman times. It was known to Dioscorides in the 1st century ce, who named it phu, the sound of the word reflecting its unpleasant smell. Valerian helps relieve stress and has become an increasingly popular remedy in recent decades. It is a safe, nonaddictive relaxant that reduces nervous tension and anxiety and promotes restful sleep.

■ Historical uses Known as “all- heal” in the Middle Ages, valerian was credited with many virtues, in particular with healing epilepsy.
In 1592, Fabius Calumna published a detailed work on herbal medicine in which he claimed to have cured his epilepsy with the herb.
■ Stress-related disorders Valerian reduces mental over- activity and nervous excitability, helping people who find it hard
to “switch off.” It is beneficial for almost any stress-related condition, and, in general, has a calming, rather than directly sedative, effect on
the mind.
■ Anxiety & insomnia Many symptoms of anxiety, including tremors, panic, palpitations, and sweating, can be relieved with valerian. It is a useful remedy for insomnia, whether caused by anxiety or overexcitement.

Effective relaxant Valerian relaxes overcontracted muscles, and is helpful for shoulder and neck tension, asthma, colic, irritable bowel syndrome, period pain, and muscle spasms.

■ High blood pressure Valerian is used with other herbs in remedies for high blood pressure caused by stress and anxiety.

Research Resources

Scientific NameValeriana officinalis (Valerianaceae)
DescriptionErect perennial growing to 4 ft (1.2 m), with pinnate divided leaves and pink flowers.
ConstituentsVolatile oil (up to 1.4%), including bornyl acetate, beta-caryphyllene, Iridoids (valepotriates)— valtrate, isovaltrate 148, Alkaloids
Habitat & CultivationSedative, Relaxant, Relieves muscle spasms, Relieves anxiety, Lowers blood pressure
Parts UsedRoot and rhizome are harvested in autumn when they contain the highest level of active ingredients.
Key ActionsSedative, Relaxant, Relieves muscle spasms, Relieves anxiety, Lowers blood pressure
CautionsCan cause drowsiness. Do not take valerian if already taking sleep-inducing drugs.

Clinical Studies

■ Therapeutic properties Extensive research in Germany and Switzerland has endorsed the use of valerian to aid sleep, improve sleep quality, and lower blood pressure. A German trial carried out in 2002 that tested valerian and oxazepam (a conventional sleep treatment) found both to be effective—83% of those taking valerian rated the treatment as very good compared to 73% of those taking oxazepam.

Source: Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine