Valerian

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Valerian is an herb originating in Europe and Asia which now grows in many parts of the world. The valerian root and rhizome are believed to contain active constituents. This herb has been used as a anxiolytic and sedative for over 2,000 years. Related herb species also have a long history of use in Indian Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine.

Valerian has been used topically to treat acne and skin sores, and orally for other disorders such as flatulence, digestive disorders, urinary tract disorders, congestive heart failure, and angina pectoris. Valerian extracts grew in popularity in the United States and Europe during the mid 1800's, when it was used by the public and physicians until the development of pharmaceutical barbituates surpassed it in popularity. Despite this, valerian is still widely used especially in North America, Europe, and Japan where it is valued for its sedative and calming effects. Orally, valerian is used for the treatment of insomnia, sleeping disorders, anxiety-related disorders, mood disorders, muscle and joint pain, hypochondria, headaches, and stomach upset. Valerian is also used by women to treat menstrual cramps, as well as symptoms of menopause including anxiety and hot flashes. Topically, valerian is used to treat restlessness, insomnia, and other sleep disorders. The extracts of valerian essential oil are used in manufacturing to flavor foods and beverages.

Also known as:  All-Heal, Amantilla, Baldrian, Baldrianwurzel, Belgium Valerian, Common Valerian, Fragrant Valerian, Garden Heliotrope, Garden Valerian, Grande Valériane, Guérit Tout, Herbe à la Femme Meurtrie, Herbe aux Chats, Herbe aux Coupures, Herbe de Notre-Dame, Herbe de Saint-Georges, Herbe du Loup, Indian Valerian, Mexican Valerian, Pacific Valerian, Rhizome de Valériane, Tagar, Tagar-Ganthoda, Tagara, Valeriana, Valeriana Pseudofficinalis, Valeriana Rhizome, Valerianae Radix, Valeriane, Valériane, Valériane à Petites Feuilles, Valériane Africaine, Valériane Celtique, Valériane Commune, Valériane de Belgique, Valériane des Collines, Valériane Dioïque, Valériane du Jardin, Valériane Indienne, Valériane Mexicaine, Valériane Officinale, Valériane Sauvage

Diseases and Conditions

Valerian is possibly effective for insomnia. There is insufficient information on the effectiveness of valerian for anxiety, depression, dysmennorhea, dyssomnia, stress, and other uses.

Safety

Valerian is likely safe for adults and children when used orally and appropriately in the short term. There is insufficient information on the safety of valerian for pregnant and breastfeeding women and therefore it is best to avoid. When taken at the appropriate dose, there are a few adverse effects reported with valerian use. However, possible side effects may include:

  • Excitability
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches
  • Ataxia
  • Uneasiness
  • Hypothermia 

Valerian depresses the central nervous system, which is worsened when combined with anesthesia and other medications used during surgery; discontinue use at least 2 weeks before a procedure.

Medication Interactions

Valerian may interfere with:

  • Alcohol
  • Xanax
  • Benzodiazepenes such as (Xanax)
  • Clonazepam (Klonopin)
  • Diazepam (Valium)
  • Lorazepam (Ativan)
  • Midazolam (Versed) 
  • Temazepam (Restoril)
  • Triazolam (Halcion)
  • CNS depressants such as benzodiazepines
  • Pentobarbital (Nembutal)
  • Phenobarbital (Luminal)
  • Secobarbital (Seconal)
  • Thiopental (Pentothal)
  • Fentanyl (Duragesic, Sublimaze)
  • Morphine
  • Propofol (Diprivan)
  • Cytochrome P450 2D6 (CYP2D6) substrates such as amitriptyline (Elavil)
  • Clozapine (Clozaril)
  • Codeine
  • Desipramine (Norpramin)
  • Donepezil (Aricept)
  • Fentanyl (Duragesic)
  • Flecainide (Tambocor)
  • Fluoxetine (Prozac)
  • Meperidine (Demerol)
  • Methadone (Dolophine)
  • Metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol XL)
  • Olanzapine (Zyprexa)
  • Ondansetron (Zofran)
  • Tramadol (Ultram)
  • Trazodone (Desyrel)
  • Cytochrome P450 3A4 (CYP3A4) substrates such as lovastatin (Mevacor)
  • Ketoconazole (Nizoral)
  • Itraconazole (Sporanox)
  • Fexofenadine (Allegra)
  • Triazolam (Halcion)
  • Chemotherapeutic agents (etoposide, paclitaxel, vinblastine, vincristine, vindesine)

Supplement and Food Interactions

Valerian may interfere with other herbs and supplements that have sedative properties such as:

  • Calamus
  • California poppy
  • Catnip
  • Hops
  • Jamaican dogwood
  • Kava
  • L-tryptophan
  • Melatonin 
  • Sage
  • St. John's wort
  • Sassafras
  • Skullcap

Do not take valerian with alcohol.

Dosage

Adult, Oral:

  • General: Valerian has only been clinically studied for 4-6 weeks; it should not be used for longer periods of time without the supervision of a physician.
  • Anxiety: A mean daily dose of 81mg has been used for 4 weeks.
  • Dysmennorhea: A capsule with 255mg of valerian root has been used thrice daily for for 3 days.
  • Insomnia: Historically, a tea with 1.5-3g of root steeped for 5-10 minutes in 150mL of boiling water has been used.
  • Stress: 2 600mg valerian tablets have been used.

Foods

There are no known foods which contain valerian root.

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References

  1. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Valerian-HealthProfessional/
  2. https://naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com/references.aspx?productid=870

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