Valeriana officinalis, as it is officially called, has been in use since the time of Hippocrates. Its other variety is Valeriana dioica. Valerian is an herb that grows mostly in Europe, Asia, and North America. It has been used for centuries for the treatment of various conditions like insomnia and anxiety.
First used by the Greeks to treat digestive disorders like flatulence and nausea, Valerian is now generally used along with a variety of other herbs like Passion Flower, St. John’s wort, Lemon Balm, and Kava. The Chinese and Indians have also used Valerian traditionally as herbal medicine.
One of the most common uses of Valerian is to relieve anxiety, insomnia, tension, and depression. Valerian is known for its calming effect without causing drowsiness. It can be very useful medicine for women suffering from menstrual cramps and anxiety. Since Valerian does not affect REM sleep cycles at night, it does not induce any sleepiness but rather produces a natural, mild calm to soothe the anxiety of patients. Studies also show that Valerian provides quick and natural relief for people with poor sleep. This is a natural and safe alternative to drugs like benzodiazepines which may cause continuous dependence on the pills.
Easy to find, Valerian is sold as a dietary supplement. It is available in both the powder or liquid form. Usually Valerian tablets are preferred but some people enjoy taking it as a dried herb in tea form. The most nutrient rich part of the herb is the valerian root. Valerian can be highly effective right before bedtime to relieve stress.
Valerian is an excellent remedy against anxiety, if administered in combination with St. John’s wort. It is effective in reducing tension and related symptoms. For anxiety, it is advisable to divide daily valerian dosage in three parts or more.
Valerian can also be used as a sedative. There are a number of valerian side effects which one may encounter while using it. Remember, a high valerian dosage may result in various side effects like mental dullness, mild depression, apathy, and stomach ache. Valerian may cause dizziness as well as drowsiness due to its sedative properties. It can also result in withdrawal symptoms leading to delirium and cardiac complications. Valerian should also not be taken during pregnancy to avoid any harm to the foetus as it could cause hepatotoxicity in the mother and cytotoxicity in the foetus.Its pleasant-smelling pink or white flowers are used in making perfumes as well.
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