Valerian Benefits: A Natural Health Guide
The valerian root has been used for treating anxiety and sleep disorders for many centuries in Europe, Great Britain, North America and certain parts of Asia as it grows in these places. In ancient Greece and Rome, it was recognised for its powerful therapeutic qualities by Galen, the prolific physician, surgeon and philosopher of that era. The valerian root extract was a very popular sedative back then too. The official name is Valeriana officianalis; this plant’s root has the miraculous power to calm the mind and help people sleep. During both World wars, valerian was used for post-traumatic stress.
The valerian plant was used in daily cooking from 300 BC up until around the middle ages, proving its age-old medicinal value-recognition.
Valerian root benefits
There are around 250 kinds of Valerian but the one that is used for its medicinal value widely is Valeriana officinalis. Although the reason is not exact, it has been studied that Valerian has similar effects as anti-depressants and sedatives. In times of anxiety attacks or insomnia, it is the brain that can’t be stopped due to the various messages it is receiving. This typically happens when GABA (Gamma-aminobutyric acid) receptors in the brain are overworked. Valerian root extract soothes GABA and helps it slow down and relax resulting in a good sleep which helps reactivate the brain in a fresh way. Valerian root for anxiety disorders has been acclaimed due to the compound, valerenic acid that helps balance the serotonin in the brain.
Valerian root extract for sleep has other added benefits like curing migraines and depression too. In some studies conducted in the recent times, people were divided into two different groups and one set was given a sugar pill aka “The Placebo effect” (where the patient thinks he is getting a sleeping pill or medicine but it is just a sugar pill and this is sending the message to the brain that it is time to feel alright or sleepy) and the other set was given a valerian root extract pill. In almost all of these experiments, the group that had the valerian pill had a better night’s sleep.
In another research, two groups of women were made: one was pre-menopausal and the other, menopausal and they were each given a valerian root extract pill. The results were not only positive in terms of better sleep and alleviated moods, but they especially encountered great relief from “Hot flashes”. For the uninitiated, hot flashes are caused by hormonal change that happens in women that go through menopause and with some, the effects last for years.
Because of its wondrous value, valerian root extract for sleep has been a topic of discussion in the medical world. So is valerian for anxiety disorders. Clinical trials have been conducted to prove the same. It is proven to be an anxiolytic herb and there are several indicators and positive outcomes to prove the same; although it is still an ongoing process and evidence is being collected to bring about more awareness of it.
It also has added benefits such as improvement in OCD symptoms, ADHD and hyperactive activities in children even digestive disorders have been regulated with valerian.
Ways to ingest Valerian root extract
Valerian has been compared to Valium, its allopathic sedative twin. But herbalists and medical workers alike cannot deny that the herbal remedy is always better than the chemical one.
Valerian can be had in multiple ways:
- Tea: Arguably the most flavorful, this is the valerian root that is made into a kind of tea that can be boiled along with water and had for therapeutic purposes.
- Tincture: Tincture is typically a substance that is dissolved and preserved in an alcoholic mixture and then used in small quantities with a dropper for its medicinal value.
- Capsule: The most common and easiest way to have valerian root extract is to have it in the encapsulated form. The root is dried and ground into a powder and put in the capsule. Available in pharmacies as an over-the-counter pill.
- Essential oils: The valerian root is distilled to extract the oils in the root and the decoction that is removed is not to be consumed orally but in the form of a massage or in a bath. Also very therapeutic to sniff it as a diffusion.
Taking its time
It has been suggested that the valerian root for anxiety and sleep disorders should be taken for a period of two to three weeks in succession with breaks of the same time in between. These benefits sleep patterns and the quality of sleep. And it regulates the brain function of shutting down at appropriate times for proper restful sleep.
Although the side effects may vary, no one has ever had any severe symptoms of them. The side effects may include drowsiness, feeling a bit tired, blurry vision, feeling unsteady and a feeling of light-headedness or feeling giddy.
While herbalists maintain that it is a natural remedy for insomnia and anxiety, a physician should be consulted if one is having allopathic medicines.
This may be the help you need
If you suffer from anxiety and sleep disorders, consider valerian root extract. It is the best natural herbal therapy.
Mother Earth’s medicine chest is full of healing herbs of incomparable worth.
-Robin Rose Bennet.