Valerian root (Valeriana officinalis) is one of the most commonly used herbal medicines for insomnia. Valerian is considered a very safe herb for both adults and children and may be a gentler alternative to pharmaceutical drugs for relief from sleeplessness and anxiety.
Valerian is often referred to as “nature’s Valium” due to its sedative effects. Having been used in traditional medicine for over 2,000 years to promote relaxation and sleep. Studies have found taking valerian for sleep can help improve the speed at which you fall asleep, depth of sleep, and overall quality of sleep.
Valerian has also been shown to help maintain serotonin levels in the brain, which has a mood stabilizing effect.
Studies have also demonstrated its usefulness for hyperactivity, generalized anxiety disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder. However, too high a dose can have the reverse effect. When taking valerian for anxiety or sleep, always start with a minimal dose, and use the lowest dose needed to achieve the desired effect. Typical dosages used in studies range between 400 mg and 900 mg, taken anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours before bed. Valerian supplements can be administered in the form of valerian tablets, valerian pills, valerian capsules and valerian extract.
Active compounds in valerian herb root include:
•Valerenic acid. The valerenic acid in valerian root has been shown to inhibit breakdown of GABA, resulting in greater calm and relaxation.
•Isovaleric acid, which helps prevent involuntary muscle contractions. Its action is similar to valproic acid, used to treat epilepsy
•Hesperidin, an antioxidant with sedative properties
•Linarin, an antioxidant with sedative properties
Do not combine the following drugs with valerian
Alcohol can cause sleepiness and drowsiness. Valerian might also cause sleepiness and drowsiness. Taking large amounts of valerian along with alcohol might cause too much sleepiness.
Valerian can decrease how quickly the liver breaks down alprazolam. Taking valerian with alprazolam might increase the effects and side effects of alprazolam such as drowsiness.
Sedative medications (Benzodiazepines) & (CNS depressants)
Taking valerian along with sedative medications might cause increased sleepiness