Valerian is a perennial flowering plant native to Europe and Asia.
With the Latin name of Valeriana officinalis, the mature plant can reach a height of 1.5 meters in the summer.
It bears sweetly scented pink or white flowers that attract many fly species, especially hoverflies.
The root of the valerian plant has been found to have natural health benefits.
5 Valerian Root Health Benefits
1. Studies have found that the root reduces the time it takes to fall asleep and improves sleep quality.
In contrast with prescription sleep medications, valerian has fewer side effects and is a lot less likely to result in morning drowsiness. Valerian contains a chemical called linarin
, creating a sedative effect.
2. It has been found to calm anxiety.
Valerian root increases the amount of a chemical called gamma aminobutyric acid
(GABA) through GABA receptors, helping to regulate nerve cells and calms anxiety. A word of warning is not to take valerian at the same time as antidepressants.
3. Lowering blood pressure
is another benefit which is not surprising when the root has been found to be calming to mind and body. Those same active components that make valerian root effective for stress and anxiety management can also help the body properly regulate its blood pressure.
4. The relaxing nature of valerian root can also help to reduce menstrual pain by suppressing muscle spasms and acting as a natural muscle relaxer.
5. Reducing anxiety and improving sleep quality goes hand in hand with stress management
. In addition, valerian has been found to main levels of serotonin
which is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood.
Is valerian root safe to take?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) labels valerian root “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS), but mild side effects have been reported. It should not be taken by:
- Women who are pregnant or nursing.
- Children younger than 3 years of age.
It is advised that users of valerian root do not combine with alcohol, other sleep aids or antidepressants and, as always, check with your health professional before using.
Powdered valerian root is available online or from health stores in capsule and tablet form - as well as a tea.