What Is Valerian Root?

Updated: Aug 2, 2019

What is valerian root?

Valeriana officinalis, known more commonly as valerian, is a medicinal herb native to Europe and Asia. (1) The plant has fragrant flowers that have been used in perfumes, but the roots pack a more practical, medicinal punch. In fact, the root has had a variety of uses in herbal medicine for over 2,000 years. (1) 

Valerian root can be consumed as a tea, tincture, powder, or pill. 

Common valerian root uses?

Natural Sleep Aid. Valerian root can help you fall asleep faster and sleep better through the night. As a rule, using valerian for sleep has less side effects than using a prescription sleep aid and has a reduced risk for causing next-morning drowsiness. (2)

Anxiety & Stress Relief. GABA is a chemical in the brain that helps to control nerves and anxiety. Anti-anxiety prescription medications like Xanax and Valium provide relief because they increase the amount of GABA in the brain. (3) Valerian root contains valerenic acid, a compound that can naturally supply the brain with more GABA. (2) That means that valerian root can help calm feelings of stress and anxiety.

Reduces Pain. Valerian root is a natural muscle relaxer, sedative, and muscle spasm suppressor. It can reduce pain, and has been shown to provide relief for menstrual cramps.

Who is it for?

If you’re dealing with anxiety, chronic stress, or insomnia valerian root may be able to help. It is a natural option for many people who would prefer to avoid prescription drugs. 

Risks or side effects?

While valerian root is considered to be generally safe, potential side effects include dizziness, headaches and stomach upset. Some users report feeling anxious and restless instead of the intended and desired sense of calm. 

If you are already taking any sort of medication to promote sleep, reduce blood pressure or calm anxiety - do not add Valerian root to your healthcare routine without first consulting your physician. It is also recommended to check with your doctor before using if you are pregnant, nursing, or if you’re considering giving valerian to a child. 

Other natural home remedies?

Topical magnesium has also been touted for its medicinal properties for thousands of years. Applying magnesium oil to the skin or soaking in a magnesium bath can reduce stress, promote a sense of calm, and help you sleep better.  




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