What is Valerian root?
Valerian root is an herb that people have used for centuries for anxiety and as a sleep aid. It is also used to ease menstrual and stomach cramps. It comes from the root of the Valerian root plant, found in areas of North America, Europe, and Asia. Of the more than 200 known species of Valerian root, the Eurasian variety V. officinalis is the one people use most often as medicine. Valerian root is known for smelling like sweaty socks.
Valerian root is sold as a dietary supplement and is available as an extract in powder or liquid form, as a dried herb in tea form, or in pills.
Does Valerian Root Work For Anxiety
Researchers aren’t sure how valerian root works to ease insomnia and anxiety. They think it subtly increases the levels of a chemical known as gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. GABA contributes to a calming effect in the body.
For anxiety, you may take a dose 3 times or more during the day, including before bedtime. As a sleep aid, Valerian root is most effective if you take it shortly before bedtime.
Based on the available research, take 300 to 600 milligrams (mg) of valerian root 30 minutes to two hours before bedtime. This is best for insomnia or sleep trouble. For tea, soak 2 to 3 grams of dried herbal valerian root in 1 cup of hot water for 10 to 15 minutes.
Is valerian root safe to consume?
According to Michigan health, side effects from valerian are rare but can include mild headache or stomach upset, abnormal heartbeats, and insomnia. Because of valerian’s calming effect, you should not take it at the same time as other calming medicines or antidepressants (or do so only under medical supervision). You also should not take valerian if you will be driving or need to be alert.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate dietary supplements in the same way it regulates medicine. A dietary supplement can be sold with limited or no research on how well it works.
Always tell your doctor if you are using a dietary supplement or if you are thinking about combining a dietary supplement with your conventional medical treatment. It may not be safe to forgo your conventional medical treatment and rely only on a dietary supplement. This is especially important for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
When using dietary supplements, keep in mind the following:
• Like conventional medicines, dietary supplements may cause side effects, trigger allergic reactions, or interact with prescription and nonprescription medicines or other supplements you might be taking. A side effect or interaction with another medicine or supplement may make other health conditions worse.
• Dietary supplements may not be standardized in their manufacturing. This means that how well they work or any side effects they cause may differ among brands or even within different lots of the same brand. The form you buy in health food or grocery stores may not be the same as the form used in research.
• The long-term effects of most dietary supplements, other than vitamins and minerals, are not known. Many dietary supplements are not used long-term.