Valerian root (A complete guide)

valerian root

In this blog article, we will discuss the potential health benefits of valerian root, which is a plant used for holistic medical purposes. 

What is valerian root?

Valerian is a flowering plant, the root of which is dried and utilized as an herbal medication. 

Valerian has been utilized in holistic medicine as a potentially successful medicine in treating sleep issues such as sleep deprivation.

Different uses for valerian that have not been supported by research have included treating tension, stress, a lack of ability to concentrate, constantly feeling cluttered with thoughts, tremors, epilepsy, menopause manifestations, and other conditions. 

It is unknown whether valerian root is effective in treating any medical condition, and it has not been endorsed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Valerian root should not be utilized instead of medicine prescribed for you by your primary care physician. 

Valerian root is frequently sold as an herbal supplement. There are no guidelines or benchmarks for the preparation of most herbal supplements, and some of them are contaminated with lethal metals or other medications. Herbal/wellbeing supplements should be bought from a dependable source to limit the risks of ingesting them. 
brown roots

What are the health benefits of valerian root?

Insomnia

Valerian root’s mild narcotic effects have been utilized to help with relaxation and sleep for the last 2,000 years. Valerian root may improve sleep by increasing GABA levels in the brain. GABA is the main inhibitory neurotransmitter in the  brain, and when activated by natural or synthetic compounds, can induce a calming effect.  

A meta-analysis of 16 investigations and 1,093 individuals found that valerian root improved the speed at which people fall asleep as well as the depth of their sleep.

In a 2-day investigation of 27 older patients with mental health conditions, 44% detailed restful sleep and 89% reported improved rest using a valerian root derivative (containing sesquiterpenes).

Moreover, a one-month-long investigation of 16 individuals with a sleep disorder found that a certain amount of valerian root improved their ability to fall into a deep sleep and also increased the amount of time that they could sleep soundly.

Valerian may also help reduce symptoms for a variety of conditions: 

  •   Rheumatoid joint inflammation
  •   Menopause 
  •   Hypothyroidism 
  •   PTSD 
  •   HIV 
  •   Fibromyalgia
  •  Benzodiazepine withdrawal 

woman sleeping on bed under blankets

A later meta-analysis of over 1,000 patients found that the valerian root’s improvement of sleep deprivation was mostly subjective. 

While some examination shows that the valerian root might be valuable for treating temporary sleep deprivation, there is an absence of preliminary clinical data that proves its viability for use of more than 6 weeks. In other words, there has not been enough research performed on the valerian root and its connection to improved sleep cycles and sleep quality to show that there is a positive correlation. Part of the reason why people experience better sleep when taking the valerian root might be the placebo effect, in which a person convinces themselves that something is having a positive effect on them in some way, even though whatever thing they think is helping is not actually having any effect on them, or is having a very minor effect on them.

One of the benefits of valerian root is that there are no known risks, as there are with other prescription sleep medication. So, although the valerian root has not been proven to improve sleep quality, it might be safer to take than other drugs which have been tested and have been proven to improve sleep quality. Valerian root, in that case, might be the right choice for someone who just wants a little help with their sleep, but does not need intense medical intervention in order to improve their sleep.

Menopausal Symptoms

In an investigation of 100 menopausal women who were experiencing difficulties with sleeping, valerian root essentially improved the quality of their sleep over the course of a month. 

A 3-month investigation of 60 postmenopausal women found that valerian root improved the intensity and frequency of hot flashes.

Anxiety

Valerian is known as ‘nature’s valium’ since it seems to reduce anxiety to the same degree as the benzodiazepines valium and xanax.  

One investigation of 2,462 adults with significant anxiety issues found that high doses of the valerian root (1000 mg/day) taken in conjunction with St John’s Wort (600 mg/day) for about a month and a half diminished symptoms of nervousness and hopelessness by 66%. 

A few scientists saw that mice treated with the valerian root displayed a decline in restless behaviors. 

Be that as it may, one 4-week pilot investigation of 36 individuals with anxiety indicated no significant differences between the valerian-treated group and the control group.

ADHD

Valerian increases the effects of GABA levels in the brain. Insufficiencies in the neurotransmitter GABA lead to feelings of nervousness, anxiety, and hyperactive behavior, which are manifestations regularly found in ADHD. 

In an investigation of 30 kids ages 5 to 11 years old, the valerian root taken for a certain amount of time (3 times each day for about fourteen days) improved ADHD symptoms such as carelessness and impulsivity as well as hyperactivity. These beneficial outcomes subsided after a few weeks after stopping valerian treatment. 

In a 7-week study of 169 kids with hyperactivity and focus difficulties (however not meeting ADHD criteria), the combination of valerian root and lemon medicine diminished symptoms of eagerness, difficulties focusing, and carelessness. 

Also, in another investigation of 918 kids under 12 with trouble falling asleep and anxiety, a combination of valerian and lemon medicine improved symptoms in 81% of the patients with a sleeping disorder and 70.4% of the patients with anxiety with no negative impacts. 

The fundamental outcomes are promising, however more research is required before promoting that the valerian root is a healthy option and is beneficial for people with ADHD, anxiety, and other issues in children.

Cancer and HIV Treatment

The valerian root improved sleep disorder symptoms in individuals experiencing treatment for malignant growths because of its calming effects. In contrast to mainstream ideas, it did not interfere with the malignant growth medications. 

The medication efavirenz utilized in HIV patients is known to interfere with psychological well-being and cause mental fog. In a 4-week pilot study of 51 HIV-positive patients, use of the valerian root decreased symptoms of sleep disorders and uneasiness yet neglected to decrease psychosis and self-destructive thoughts.
selective focus photography of IV stand

Fibromyalgia

A valerian shower (3 times each week for 3 weeks) essentially improved quality of rest and diminished pain in 30 individuals with fibromyalgia. 

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)

In a 8-week preliminary study of 30 adults with OCD, valerian root decreased OCD symptoms compared with placebo treatment. 

This study is lacking proof to rate its viability for those who are diagnosed with OCD at this point in time.

Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)

An 8-week study of 37 people with restless leg syndrome (RLS) found that the valerian root significantly improved RLS symptoms and decreased daytime sleepiness.

However, two reviews found insufficient evidence to confirm the valerian root’s effectiveness in treating RLS.

Are there side effects caused by valerian root?

Get emergency medical assistance in the event that you have any symptoms of an allergic reaction to the valerian root. These include hives, trouble breathing, and swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat. 

Despite the fact that not every reaction is known, the valerian root is believed to be potentially harmful when taken for a timeframe of up to about two months. 

Stop utilizing the valerian root and call your primary care physician immediately if you have: liver issues, upper stomach pain, tingling, tiredness, loss of appetite, dull colored urine, discolored stools, or jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes). 

Common side effects of the valerian root may include: 

  • Migraine headaches
  • irritated stomach
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • dry mouth
  • feeling energized or irritable 
  • bizarre dreams
  • daytime sleepiness

Does valerian root interact with other medications?

The Valerian root may alter your reasoning or reactions. Be cautious about driving or doing anything that requires alertness.

Abstain from utilizing valerian with other herbal/wellbeing supplements that can cause drowsiness. This includes 5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan), California poppy, catnip, chamomile, gotu kola, Jamaican dogwood, kava, melatonin, St. John’s wort, skullcap (or scullcap), yerba mansa, and others. 

Abstain from drinking alcohol. It can increase drowsiness brought about by valerian. 

Taking this medicine with different medications that make you drowsy or lethargic can intensify this impact. Ask your primary care provider (PCP) before taking the valerian root with a sleeping pill, opiate pain medicine, muscle relaxer, or medicine for anxiety, depression, or seizures. 
shallow focus photography of prescription bottle with capsules

Do not use valerian root without medical guidance if you are currently taking a drug to treat any of the following conditions: 

  • HIV, jungle fever, or tuberculosis); 
  • tension or anxiety
  • asthma 
  • cancer 
  • erectile dysfunction 
  • acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux illness (GERD)
  • hypertension, elevated cholesterol, or a heart condition;
  • headaches
  • psoriasis, rheumatoid joint pain, or other immune system issue; 
  • a mental disorder
  • Seizures.

How should valerian root be taken? 

When considering the use of herbal supplements, seek the advice of your doctor. You may also consider consulting a practitioner who is trained in the use of herbal/health supplements.

If you choose to use the valerian root, use it as directed on the package or as directed by your doctor, pharmacist, or other healthcare provider. Do not use more of this product than is recommended on the label.

Do not crush, chew, break, or open a valerian capsule. Swallow it whole.

If you need surgery, stop taking valerian at least 2 weeks ahead of time.

Call your doctor if the condition you are treating with valerian does not improve, or if it gets worse while using this product.

Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about valerian root:

Can someone take too much valerian root?

Yes. The valerian root can have side effects such as vivid dreams and night terrors if a person takes too much.

How much valerian root should I take?

The recommended dosage of valerian root is two to three grams of the root, taken once or a couple times daily.

Here are some books about the valerian root and improving sleep that can be found on Amazon:

This is Valerian Root – Everything You Need to Know About Valerian Root, Benefits, Risks and Side Effects

This book will teach you everything you need to know about the herb valerian root. 


End the Insomnia Struggle: A Step-by-Step Guide to Help You Get to Sleep and Stay Asleep

Everyone struggles with sleep from time to time, but when sleepless nights and overtired days become the norm, your well-being is compromised, and frustration and worry increase—including concerns about what’s stopping you from getting the sleep you need, and what can be done about it. End the Insomnia Struggle offers a comprehensive, medication-free program that can be individually tailored for anyone who struggles with insomnia.

The 4-Week Insomnia Workbook: A Drug-Free Program to Build Healthy Habits and Achieve Restful Sleep

Counting sheep, doing a headstand or wearing socks won’t get you to sleep. Good news—addressing the root causes of your insomnia can. This book will get you from stressed to sleep in just four weeks with a range of proven drug-free strategies. With The 4-Week Insomnia Workbook as your guide, you’ll learn the latest CBT-I (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia) and mindfulness practices to get to the bottom of your sleepless nights. Throughout this program, you’ll tackle the thoughts and feelings that keep you up at night and establish a sleep-hygiene routine that works for you.

The Book of Sleep: 75 Strategies to Relieve Insomnia

Make your bed and actually sleep in it. The Book of Sleep provides dozens of quick, easy, and evidence-based strategies that are more effective and sustainable than sleep medication for people who suffer from insomnia.

Based in CBT-I (cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia), the techniques in this book were developed by a clinical psychologist who specializes in insomnia treatment. Find the relief you need and wake up feeling truly restored. A good night’s sleep isn’t just a dream anymore.

References

Valerian. WebMD. 2020

Valerian Root. Drugs.com. September 30th, 2019. 

How Valerian Root Can Help You Relax and Sleep Better. Healthline. 2020 

Valerian root (A complete guide)

Aura Des los Santos

Aura Des los Santos is a Clinical Psychologist with two masters degree in Education. One focused in Higher Educacion and the other in the research of Psychology of Education. Her experience is focused on working depression, anxiety and personal development. She frequently writes articles in the area of psychology, education, travel and general culture.