Properties and Benefits of Valerian: A potent natural sedative, valerian (Valeriana officinalis) is often prescribed as a herbal remedy for the treatment of anxiety, a disorder characterized by strong negative feelings over future events, people and life in general. The herb has quite strong sedative properties which is why it is often classified as a medicine or medicinal product. The herb is also employed to relieve stress and induce relaxation, treat insomnia and migraines.
Valerian root extract and infusions are said to have anxiety and pain-relieving properties, treat convulsions and improve sleep quality. Also, the herb is recommended for the treatment or management of conditions such as hyperactivity, fatigue, depression, migraines as well as mental and physical restlessness, even abdominal discomfort.
What does valerian look like? Valerian is a beautiful looking flowering plant with clusters of white and light pink small flowers, somewhat resembling hyacinths. Centranthus ruber, commonly known as red valerian due to its fuchsia flowers, looks very much like valerian, but is a completely different plant with none of the health benefits of the original. The most important part of the valerian plant is its root, from which a potent oil is extracted.
As effective as it may be in relieving stress and improving nerve disorders, valerian root and extract stink big time. I’d compare the smell with rancid tea, which is quite bad, but, luckily, I do not own the best of noses. My friends and many other people with more sensitive noses all agree that valerian smells like a decomposing carcass or sewer waste, sweaty, make-your-nose-fall-off socks at best. But as long as it helps calm nerves, we all agree it is worth it.
What is valerian good for? Here is a list of uses of valerian byproducts such as capsules, root extract, oil and herbal infusions:
7) Mental and physical restleness.
9) Abdominal cramps or spasms.
Valerian is recommended in all of these situations in order to avoid the side effects regular medication may have. It has been proven that taking prescribed medication for prolonged periods of time hurts the gastric mucosa causing stomach problems, ulcers, and so on and even causes your body to become dependent on them. More important, conventional medication is costly and may do more harm than good with the passing of time.
So if your doctor assures you that it is ok to opt for a more natural treatment plan, you can consider herbal remedies. Certain herbs are almost just as potent as regular medication and have few to no side effects which is why it is recommended to resort to a more natural approach whenever possible. Conventional medication is, after all, a more concentrated mix of plant extracts.
If you wake up constantly during the night, have a hard time falling asleep, experience insomnia frequently, feel anxious, depressed (negative emotions affect your sleep and life quality immensely), stressed or exhausted, then maybe it is time to help you body and mind relax a bit. A cup of valerian tea before going to sleep will help reduce physical and mental excitability (restless legs, hyperactivity, tremors), relieve anxiety and stress, things preventing you from getting a good night’s rest.
Valerian boasts relatively potent sedative effects, acting directly on the nervous system, which is why it is highly efficient in preventing panic attacks, relieving anxiety and negative feelings associated with depression. Because it acts as a sort of mild ‘brain tranquilizer’, it facilitates sleep which, in turn, contributes to improving energy levels, cognitive functions and overall life quality.
Good sleep is a key-factor in stress management as well. Although one cup will provide stress relief and help you sleep through the night, when it comes to improving more serious conditions such as anxiety or depression, you will most likely have to drink the tea regularly for several weeks. In this case, it might be best to consult with your doctor regarding the period of time you are to take valerian.
No more than 2-3 cups of valerian (root) tea should be consumed each day. Even so, some people may be more sensitive to the herb than others and even exhibit allergy symptoms or liver damage (when the herb is abused). Taking (too much) valerian may cause side effects such as headaches, drowsiness, dizziness, lethargy, blurred vission or affect driving capacity or the ability to operate various machines and equipments.
Very important: pregnant and nursing women as well as children under the age of 6 should not take valerian. According to researchers, the herb is not safe for unborn and newborn children or nursing mothers. Also, because of its sedative properties, it is best to consult a doctor about taking valerian if you have been prescribed antidepressants or anti-anxiety medication.