(valeriana officinalis)

Although valerian grows wild all over Europe, most of the valerian used for medicinal extracts is cultivated. The root is used in herbal medicine preparations.

The Greek physician Dioscorides reportedly recommended valerian for a host of medical issues, including digestive problems, nausea, liver problems, and even urinary tract disorders. Use of valerian for insomnia and nervous conditions has been common for many centuries. By the 18th century, it was an accepted sedative and was also used for nervous disorders associated with a restless digestive tract. In World War 2, it was used to treat soldiers with shell shock.

What it does

Valerian contains many active compounds including volatile oils, irridoids and alkaloids. GABA-A receptors in the brain regulate sedation of the nervous system. Valerian is thought to bind to these receptors creating a sedating action, may help some people deal with stress more effectively. Valerian can be taken in small doses and be calming, without causing drowsiness. Larger doses can help restore regular sleep patterns. Valerian is also anti-spasmodic and analgesic.

Potential Uses

Insomnia Pain relief Nervous tension
Anxiety & panic attacks Muscle spasm Irritability
IBS High blood pressure Headaches

Other information

Valerian is one of the best herbs for digestive problems which are associated with stress. It is also used for colic, stomach cramps and reducing night time pain.

Valerian is often used with passiflora for insomnia.


If you take sedatives, tranquillisers, anti-depressants, anti-convulsants or anticoagulant medication, check with your doctor before taking valerian.

Generally, there are no side effects or contra-indications from using valerian.

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