Valerian is a perennial plant that bears white, purple, or pink flowers in the summer. Herbal preparations are typically made from the plant’s rhizome root which has a very strong, earthy odor due to the volatile oils and other compounds responsible for its sedative effects. Its root has been used to promote relaxation and sleep since ancient times. Growing wild in grasslands throughout Asia, Europe, and North America, valerian root is used for centuries as an herbal remedy.
Here are some of the known medicinal uses of Valerian root:
Helps With Insomnia
Valerian root is well known for its ability to treat insomnia. Valerian root has been shown to increase Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) levels in the brain which in turn reduce the amount of time taken to fall asleep and improve the quality of sleep as well. GABA is a neurotransmitter that sends chemical messages through the brain and nervous system.
What’s more? Its antioxidants hesperidin and linarin also appear to have sedative and sleep-enhancing properties, according to a study.
For a tea, soak 2 to 3 grams of dried herbal valerian root in 1 cup of hot water for 10 to 15 minutes. Take it regularly for two weeks.
In a 2-week study of 56 healthy people, results showed that valerian root reduced physical reactions during stressful situations, slowed down heart rate, and reduced blood pressure in response to stress.
Moreover, another study showed that 89% of 27 patients who regularly kept awake at night by stress-inducing thoughts had better sleep after one month of valerian treatment.
A study revealed that valerian root may be useful in minimizing hot flashes that commonly affect women during menopause.
A 2013 study from Iran which involves 68 women with menopause reported that valerian capsules, when taken thrice-daily in 225-milligram doses for eight weeks, reduced the severity and frequency of hot flashes compared to a placebo.
Valerian root also contains valerenic acid and valerenol which act as anti-anxiety agents, stabilizing the central nervous system. Along with improved GABA levels, valerian root can also help the mind and the body to relax.