Valerian has been used for thousands of years for medicinal purposes. As with any medication, there are potential risks to using it. Do your own research and discuss possible benefits, side effects, and any other concerns with your physician.
What is valerian
Valerian is an herb. This flowering plant is native to the Americas, Europe, and Asia. In the mid-1800s, the American Shakers started growing it to sell to health professionals at home and Europe. Its root is used in extracts, tablets, tinctures, capsules, and tea for medicinal purposes.[1, 3]
Valerian is mostly used as a sleep aid. It is often mixed with other ingredients, such as hops and lemon balm, to induce sleep. It also is utilized to ease anxiety and stress-related ailments, including excitability, hypochondria, migraines, and nervous asthma. It also helps people during smoking secession.[1, 3]
In addition, the herb is used to relieve:
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Joint pain
- Muscle pain
- Menstrual cramps and other symptoms
Does valerian work
Research results have been inconsistent about the usefulness of valerian. It may help with insomnia, but some studies report that sleeping pills do the job more efficiently and placebos can be just a good. Only one species of valerian, Valeriana officinalis, has been extensively researched. There isn't enough evidence at this time to confirm the usefulness of valerian for treatment of anxiety, depression, epilepsy, ADHD, menstrual pain,and numerous other problems.
Valerian apparently has to be taken for an extended period of time -- as long as two weeks or more -- before people see positive effects. Valerian is taken by mouth as follows:
|Extract: 300mg to 900mg||Up to two hours before going to bed. Use for up to 28 days|
|Extract with lemon balm: 120mg with 80mg of lemon balm extract||Three times a day. Use up to 30 days|
|Extract with hops: 187mg with two tablets of hop extract at 41.9mg each||Take when going to bed, for no more than 28 days|
The usual dose of valerian for stress and anxiety treatment is 50mg to 100mg, two to three times daily. However, it's unclear what the proper doses are due to lack of reliable research.[1, 2, 3]
Valerian interacts with some medications, potentially altering or minimizing their effects. Do not take antihistamines or anti-seizure medication with the herb. Valerian, Xanax, and benzodiazephines (anti anxiety medications) can cause drowsiness, so you should not mix them. The herb should also not be taken with post-surgical sedatives, since doing so might delay coming out of the sedative state.
Valerian may delay medication breakdown by the liver, so avoid mixing medications that rely on the liver for processing, such as Allegra and Nizoral. And be careful with other sedative supplements, as they may intensify the effects of valerian.
Do not take Valerian if you are having cancer treatment or taking anti-fungal or high cholesterol medications without checking first with a healthcare professional.[1, 3] To be on the safe side, consult your healthcare provider before using this product if you are taking any medication at all. Also, find out how any new medication, whether over-the-counter or prescription, will be affected by the herb.
Side effects that may occur with valerian are:
- Heart palpitations
- Blurred vision
- Insomnia excitability
- Possible liver damage
Safety issues include:
- The safety of valerian for extended use is not known.
- Avoid use of valerian during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
- Avoid valerian usage if you have liver or kidney disease.
- Do not drink alcohol while on valerian.
- Discontinue valerian at least a couple weeks before surgery.
- Slowly taper off valerian to avoid side effects.
- For chronic insomnia, consider a sleep evaluation. Seek out an American Academy of Sleep Medicine-accredited facility.
- Although we don't sell valerian, you can compare quality and price of a variety of brands here at PricePlow.
- MedlinePlus; "Valerian;" Reviewed 2011
- Timothy Morgenthaler, M.D.; Mayo Clinic; "Valerian: A Safe and Effective Herbal Sleep Aid?" April 2012
- American Cancer Society; "Valerian;" Reviewed 2008
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