Valerian (Valeriana officinalis), also known as all-healer garden heliotrope, is a flowering plant native to Europe and parts of Asia. Since ancient times, valerian root has been used to treat insomnia, nervousness, trembling, headaches, and heart palpitations.
Valerian has been used as a medicinal herb since at least the time of ancient Greece and Rome. Hippocrates described its properties, and Galen later prescribed it as a remedy for insomnia. The Native Americans used it in healing wounds and ulcers, as well as a cough remedy.
With a history stretching back to at least Ancient Greece and Rome, the Valerian Root has been used as a sleep aid, for anxiety relief and much more through the ages. Greek physicians Dioscorides and Galen touted it as a remedy for poison, whilst it was used as a cure for epilepsy in the Middle Ages. However, it is as a treatment for nervous disorders that Valerian has become most noteworthy.
Valerian root contains a substance known as valerenic acid that is believed to affect gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors in the brain. It is believed that one of the purposes of GABA is to control fear or anxiety experienced when nerve cells are overexcited. By doing so, valerian may act as a mild sedative and anxiolytic (anxiety-reducing drug).
Some possible benefits of valerian root that have been reported by users include:
- falling asleep faster
- better sleep quality
- relief from restlessness and other anxiety disorder symptoms
- no “hangover effect” in the morning
For severe cases of anxiety or insomnia, consider mixing equal parts of passion flower cut, skullcap, and chamomile.
To make valerian tea, add 2 to 3 grams of dried valerian root (roughly 1 to 2 teaspoons) to one cup of hot water and allow to steep for 10 to 15 minutes.