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What is Valerian?

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What is Valerian?

This herb is also known as Valeriana officinalis, Valeriana wallichii and as Indian valerian. Valeriana originated from the Latin word Valere meaning to be in good health.*

The Valepotriates which are the active constituents of Valerian have an anxiolytic effect on the symptoms of anxiety. Ref: Phytother. The root historically has been used as a Tranquilizer. It is known to be used to treat the problems related to stress and strain.*

Valerenic acid is thought to be, at least partly responsible for the sedative properties of the essential oil of Valerian. It has both sedative and anti-anxiety  properties. The studies show that Valerenic acid closely resembles  Pentobarbital, therefore it is  likely to have central depressant activity.*

Valerian uses-

External Use: Valerian external application is advisable in Rheumatism, a type of Arthritis.*

Nervous System: Valerian acts as an analgesic and to promote intellectual activity. It is also known to help with Hysteria, Arthritis and Gout.*

Digestive System: Valerian is useful to help with Jaundice, enlargement of spleen, stomach aches, etc.*

Respiratory System: Valerian is well known to help with Cough.*

Reproductive System: Valerian is also a good remedy for dysmenorrhea (Menstrual pain).*

Skin: Valerian is a good remedy to help purify blood.*

Valerian benefits to sleep-

In a broad sense one can call this herb a sedative but  to put it specifically, we can say that it tends to calm, soothe the Nervous System. Valerian is an Herb that has been used to help with  Insomnia and sleep disorders. It is an excellent remedy for Anxiety. Studies show that it helps to provide sound sleep. It increases GABA ( gamma aminobutyric acid) in the brain which is a neurotransmitter involved in anxiety regulation. Hence, it has a calming effect and makes one relax and helps reduce nervousness. Valerian is non habit forming but should not be taken for a long time. It is advisable to stop using it intermittently before one starts using it again.

The literature on surveys done for Valerian shows that it has a high therapeutic value. Scientists have generated the active constituents by tissue culture techniques.

Valerian is also know to have anti-spasmodic effects. Shampoos and creams contain  0.2 – 10% percentage of the extract to control the formation of Dandruff. Ref: Medicinal Plants Cultivation and their uses.

Valerian is also useful in helping with hypertension, muscle cramps, joint pains and insomnia.

Ayurvedic formulations containing Valerian along with other proven herbs may act with higher efficacy to help with above mentioned conditions.

A word of caution, excessive doses of Valerian could produce Vertigo, Vomiting, Belching, Bleeding  and Convulsions. Always stay within the mentioned limits of this herb and do not abuse this herb. Also, this herb should not be given to children or pregnant women.

I hope the above discussion was good to understand Valerian. In many situations it is advisable to seek the help of a Medical Doctor, before using herbal alternatives.

Also read on- Natural sleep aid

By Veena Deo

Dr. Veena Deo is an expert Herbalist, a consultant and the author of this page. Please email any questions to [email protected]

All the information provided and on supplements above and opinions expressed above should not be construed as medical advice. This information is provided for educational purposes only. Any statements made above have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Any products discussed above are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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