Valerian and high blood pressure medication (A brief guide)

Valerian and high blood pressure medication

In this guide, we will discuss “Valerian and high blood pressure medication”, what is valerian, considerations before taking valerian, how is it usually taken, a list of possible drug interactions, interactions with other substances, and additional considerations.

Valerian and high blood pressure medication

You may be wondering either valerian and high blood pressure medication are compatible or safe to be used together or if there are fewer side effects using valerian or high blood pressure medication, etc. 

Well, let us start by saying that, according to Matt Atherton from express.co.uk “Taking valerian supplements every day could have a gentle lowering effect on blood pressure, a nutritionist revealed. It’s one of the best natural remedies for high blood pressure, added nutritionist Dr. Sarah Brewer.”

High blood pressure can increase the risk of having serious medical complications such as heart attacks and strokes, wherein patients that have extremely high blood pressure can even experience symptoms such as chest pain and severe headaches. However, doctors recommend making changes in people’s diet and lifestyle but the benefits of taking valerian supplements to lower the effect on blood pressure, stress, and anxiety are highly supported.

Valerian and high blood pressure medication (A brief guide)

But how is it supposed to work? “Its sedative properties block certain enzymes in the brain, which subsequently allows the amount of chemical gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) to rise (express.co.uk).” the increasing levels of GABA helps to damp down the effects of whirring thoughts for someone with anxiety.

Besides Valerian, there are other herbs that are considered good for your health and to balance and monitor blood pressure such as Garlic and Cayenne. However more studies are needed to determine the benefits of Valerian or any other medicinal or herbal substance in the treatment of high blood pressure.

What is Valerian?

Valerian is a plant from which the root is dried and used as an herbal remedy, used over centuries now and known for its sedative effects to treat sleeping problems such as insomnia. Other suggested uses include the treatment of mild anxiety symptoms, stress, depression, attention deficit disorder, chronic fatigue syndrome, tremors, epilepsy, menopause symptoms, among other conditions (drugs.com).

The major constituents are voleapropriates, which possess sedative, anticonvulsive, hypotensive, tranquilizing, neurotropic, and anti-aggressive properties, which explains the associated benefits.

However, valerian should not be taken without the approval of your doctor and after considering any interactions with other prescribed medication. Also, it is important to follow the instructions and directions in the product label and package. 

Before taking Valerian

If you suspect or you know you may be allergic do not attempt to take it. In addition, talk to your doctor before taking valerian if you have certain medical conditions, if you are breastfeeding or pregnant. Moreover, do not attempt to give this type of supplements to a child without seeking medical advice first. 

Valerian and high blood pressure medication (A brief guide)

How should I take it?

While taking valerian it is not advised to crush, chew, break or open a valerian capsule but swallowing it whole. You can find it as an extract in powder or liquid form, as a dried herb in tea form, or in pills.  Also, if you are having surgery it is advised to stop taking valerian 2 weeks ahead of time.

Moreover, if you are worried about what would happen if you miss a dose, since it is used when needed you are not likely to miss a dose but if you overdose or take more than recommended, seek emergency attention as soon as possible.

Valerian and high blood pressure medication (A brief guide)

According to WebMD, the following doses have been studied in scientific research:

  • Adults dose by mouth for insomnia: 400-900 mg valerian extract before bedtime for as long as 6 weeks, or 120 mg of valerian extract, with 80 mg of lemon balm extract before bedtime for up to 30 days, or 374-500 mg of valerian extract plus 83.8-120 mg of hops extract before bedtime for 2-4 weeks, or 300 mg of valerian extract, 80 mg of passionflower extract, and 30 mg of hops extract before bedtime for up to two weeks. Take valerian 30 minutes to 2 hours before bedtime.
  • Adult dose for symptoms of menopause: 225 mg of ground valerian root has been taken three times daily for 8 weeks. Also, 530 mg of valerian root extract has been taken twice daily for 8 weeks.

What to avoid while taking valerian

Avoid driving or doing activities that require your motor skills or concentration since valerian root can make you feel sleepy or drowsy, such as driving or manipulating heavy machinery.

Also avoid combining valerian with any other herbal supplement that has the same effect. This includes:

  • 5-HTP or 5-hydroxytryptophan.
  • California poppy.
  • Catnip.
  • Chamomile.
  • Gotukola. 
  • Jamaican dogwood.
  • Kava.
  • Melatonin.
  • St. John’s Wort.
  • Skullcap.
  • Yerba Mansa.

Are there side effects?

You could have an allergic reaction, so make sure you look for any signs such as hives, difficulties breathing, swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat. However, if you experience liver problems, headaches, upset stomach, thinking problems, dry mouth, feeling excited or uneasy, strange dreams, or daytime drowsiness.

Even though all valerian side effects are not known, it is thought that using it short term  (4-8 weeks) may be considered safe. 

Valerian and high blood pressure medication (A brief guide)

List of drugs that will affect valerian

If you are taking medicine for any of the following medical conditions, refrain from using valerian unless determined safe by your physician (drugs.com):

  • any type of infection (including HIV, malaria, or tuberculosis);
  • anxiety or depression;
  • asthma or allergies;
  • cancer;
  • erectile dysfunction;
  • heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD);
  • high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or a heart condition;
  • migraine headaches;
  • psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, or other autoimmune disorders;
  • a psychiatric disorder; or
  • seizures.

This list is not complete so there may be potential drugs that may interact with valerian such as over-the-counter medication, vitamins, and other herbal products.

According to WebMD, do not take valerian with:

  • Alcohol: it can cause sleepiness and drowsiness. 
  • Alprazolam (Xanax): this combination can decrease how quickly the liver can brak down alprazolam, which can increase the effects and side effects of alprazolam.
  • Clonazepam (Klonopin), Diazepam (Valium), Lorazepam (Ativan), Midazolam (Versed), Temazepam (Restoril), Triazolam (Halcion), and others.
  • CNS depressants: pentobarbital (Nembutal), phenobarbital (Luminal), secobarbital (Seconal), thiopental (Pentothal), fentanyl (Duragesic, Sublimaze), morphine, propofol (Diprivan), and others.

Additional considerations

Medication seems to be very appealing in terms of a short and fast way of dealing with medical issues, but it may not be the answer. For instance, if you are having trouble sleeping, before considering medication try to change a few lifestyle habits that influence sleep such as taking caffeine late during your day or maintaining a regular sleep schedule. 

In addition, regular exercise or considering going to therapy if what is preventing you from going to sleep is your worrying thoughts. 

Moreover, remember that some products claim and promise they have a miracle cure to whatever you are suffering from but it may be misleading so just don’t always rely on their biased marketing. Instead, always look for research trials that can support their use, which can indicate how safe it is and possible side effects.

This is not considered a long term solution since it is not recommended to take valerian for long periods of time because as the Mayo Clinic indicates “dosages varied in studies involving valerian and some studies weren’t rigorous, it’s not clear what dose is most effective or for how long you should take a particular dose.”

Why is this blog about Valerian and high blood pressure medication important?

This blog about Valerian and high blood pressure is important not only because Valerian seems to be a very good option when deciding to use a natural herbal remedy to that has a positive effect when treating high blood pressure, but also, like any other drug or substance, there are side effects we need to consider and recommendations before deciding to start using Valerian.

As discussed, if you have a medical condition or you are being prescribed a certain medication, it is important to consult with your physician before starting to use Valerian and to avoid any possible interactions with drugs or other substances. In addition, more research needs to be focused on determining the benefits and relationship between using Valerian and the effect on high blood pressure.

Please feel free to leave any comments or thoughts about the content of this article!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Valerian and high blood pressure medication

Does Valerian raise blood pressure?

On the contrary, research suggests taking 600 mg of valerian for a period of 7 days can help reduce blood pressure, heart rate, and stress. However, when taken in larger doses of 1080 mg can increase anxiety symptoms.

Does Valerian interfere with any medications?

Valerian may interact with other medications, such as sleeping aids, depressants such as alcohol, benzodiazepines, and narcotics. Moreover, it can interact with some prescribed medicines and dietary supplements such as St. John’s Wort.

Does the valerian root affect the heart?

Valerian root should not affect the heart, on the contrary, it is said to be able to treat heart palpitations according to historical records. However, everyone reacts differently and some people have even reported experiencing heart palpitations as a side effect of using or discontinuing the intake of valerian root.

What supplements interfere with blood pressure medication?

Supplements that may interfere with blood pressure medication include:

  • Arnica (Arnica montana)
  • Bitter orange (Citrus aurantium)
  • Ephedra (ma-huang)
  • Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius and Panax ginseng)
  • Guarana (Paullinia cupana)
  • Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra)
  • St. John’s Wort

Is valerian root bad for liver?

Valerian root has been indicated as well-tolerated and safe during short term use, but liver damage can occur when used in high doses, overuse, or “wild-crafted” dried root.

References 

Atherton, M. (2018, Jul.) High blood pressure: ‘One of the best’ natural remedies to cut hypertension risk revealed. Retrieved from express.co.uk.

Drugs.com: “Valerian”

WebMD: “Valerian”

Bauer, B. (n.d.) Valerian: A safe and effective herbal sleep aid?. Retrieved from Mayoclinic.org.

Jainarinesingh J. Herbs that Ensure Good Health and Longevity. West Indian Med J. 2014;63(1):90‐91. doi:10.7727/wimj.2013.153

Valerian and high blood pressure medication (A brief guide)

Daniela Paez

Daniela Paez is a Clinical Psychologist with an MSc. In Clinical Neuropsychology from Bangor University. She has vast experience in working with children with disabilities, adolescents and their families, in extreme conditions of poverty and vulnerability. Additionally, she owns a private practice where she provides neuropsychological evaluation for children and adults, and treatment for mood disorders, anxiety, couple therapy, among other conditions.