As published on Zhou Nutrition Website:
With 40 million Americans suffering from anxiety disorders, it is the most common mental illness in this country. With the long list of side effects and addiction from anti-anxiety medications, many are searching for an alternative.
Valerian Root May Be the Answer You Are Looking For!
Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) is a perennial plant native to Europe and Asia and has been used for nearly 2000 years for anxiety, nervous restlessness, and insomnia. The effects of valerian are believed to be triggered in the same way as other anti-anxiety medications– by working on the inhibitory neurotransmitter, GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid). GABA helps to regulate specific nerve cells and has a calming effect on anxiety. Clinical evidence shows valerian to be as comparable to valium as a treatment for stress and anxiety but without the addictive properties and unwarranted side effects. It is known to be natures best herbal muscle relaxer and sedative.
Valerian is especially good to take during times of stress, when your mind is racing, or if you are experiencing nervous tension or anxiety. There are even implications of it being helpful in calming behaviors associated with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
The root of valerian is the part of the plant used medicinally and can be prepared as a tea, tincture, or capsules. A few of the active constituents of Valerian root, valerenic acid and isovaleric acid, are commonly found in many over-the-counter sleep aides. However, there is no scientific agreement as to the exact elements of valerian that give it the sedative effects. Studies show that valerian can help you fall asleep faster and have higher quality sleep. Some studies reveal that it may take a few weeks to have the full effect of valerian, however, other studies have shown that the effects may be immediately seen.
Valerian tea can be made by steeping 1 tsp. of dried root in 1 cup boiling water for up to 15 minutes. Drink approximately one hour before bedtime. For capsule or tablet form 250-600 mg is the recommended dose and standardized extracts should contain between .5% and 1% volatile oils. As use for anxiety, begin with 200mg of Valerian, three to four times per day.
Adverse effects are rarely seen, however, there are some precautions to take.
Follow the recommended dosages, as too much can have a more stimulant type effect.
Valerian should not be taken by women who are pregnant or nursing and children under the age of 3 as there have not been any studies conducted regarding safety within these populations.
Adverse effects are possible when taken with additional sedatives. Valerian should be avoided if taking Benzodiazepines such as Xanax, Valium, and Ativan or Barbiturates (Central nervous system depressants) such as phenobarbital (Luminal), morphine, and propofol (Diprivan). It should also be avoided when taking medications for insomnia such as Ambien, Sonata or Lunesta and alcohol should be avoided when taking valerian.
Speak with your doctor before changing your medications or adding a supplement.
Patocka, J, Biomedically relevant chemical constituents of Valeriana officinalis, Journal of Applied Biomedicine, Volume 8, Issue 1, 2010, Pages 11–18
Natural Medicine’s Comprehensive Database. Valerian. 2016.
Attele AS, Xie JT, Yuan CS. Treatment of insomnia: an alternative approach.Altern Med Rev. 2000;5:249-259.
National Institute of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements, Valerian, 2013, https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Valerian-HealthProfessional/