Parts used: Root
Alterative, antiseptic, carminative, decongestant, diuretic, galactagogue, nervine, sedative
Calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, niacin, potassium, selenium, silicon, sodium, vitamins A and C, zinc
Valerian is beneficial for the heart, lungs, liver and stomach, as well as the nerves and the brain. It may also help with epilepsy, hysteria, migraines and eliminating worms. It is a strong nervine herb that produces a calming effect to aid individuals suffering from insomnia, anxiety, muscle spasms and nervous tension. Valerian is a tonic herb in its effects on the nervous system. It seems to be able to relax and calm when necessary, as well as improving metal acuity and coordination. It is usually recommended for short-term use.
Studies have identified some of the properties of valerian. It has been found to act as a relaxant and is effective for insomnia. The active ingredients found in the root are responsible for relaxing the smooth muscle tissue (those responsible for involuntary muscles) and depressing the central nervous system. Studies have found that valerian can produce a deep, satisfying sleep similar to some sleep aids often prescribed. But valerian has an advantage over medication in that it does not cause the morning grogginess often associated with prescription sleep medications. It appears that no single component of valerian is responsible for all of its sedative activity, but that several of the constituents work together.
Research has found valerian to be effective in treating insomnia and reducing sleep latency. It not only reduced sleep latency but also helped reduce the number of night awakenings. Valerian is thought to be safe, and there appear to be no contraindication to its use, even during pregnancy and lactation. Many different studies have confirmed the benefits of valerian for insomnia, anxiety and stress. It is useful for sleep disorders, especially when they are related to anxiety, nervousness, headache pain, or physical and mental exhaustion. It can help relieve problems without side effects often associated with medication, such as dependency, drowsiness and morning hangover. One study even found that hyperactive individuals were able to concentrate for longer periods of time when taking valerian.