Naturally Therapeutics

Valerian Root: a Powerful, Natural Sleep Ally

Valerian root is a popular herbal remedy that has been used for centuries to promote relaxation and sleep. While it has a long history of traditional use, scientific studies have also explored its potential benefits.

Here are some science-based studies of valerian root, including its benefits and relevant scientific studies:

  • Promotes Sleep and reduces Insomnia:

Valerian root is commonly used as a natural sleep aid. Several studies have suggested its effectiveness in improving sleep quality and reducing insomnia symptoms. For example:

In a study published in the American Journal of Medicine Reviews, researchers found that valerian root supplementation significantly improved sleep quality and increased the percentage of deep sleep.

Another analysis, published in American Family Physician, it was found that valerian extract helped individuals with insomnia achieve better sleep compared to a placebo.

  • Anxiety and Stress Reduction:

Valerian root has also been investigated for its potential anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) and stress-reducing effects. Some studies have indicated positive outcomes in this regard:

Mount Sinai has resources for Valerian including its ability to reduce insomnia, anxiety and nervous restlessness.  It also provides dosage information, availability, precautions and interactions.

Published in July 2020 in OMJ, double-blind, cross-over clinical study: Valerian signification  improved sleep quality, the symptoms of state anxiety and depression in hemodialysis (HD) patients

  • Potential for Pain Relief:

Some studies have explored the analgesic (pain-relieving) properties of valerian root, although more research is necessary to establish its efficacy and mechanisms of action:

In an animal study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, valerian extract showed potential analgesic effects by reducing pain sensitivity in rats.

A study published in the Journal of Natural Medicines suggested that valerian compounds could have antinociceptive effects, potentially influencing pain perception.

It’s important to note that while valerian root is considered safe for short-term use, it may interact with certain medications and cause side effects in some individuals. It is advisable to consult with your healthcare professional before incorporating valerian root when you have underlying health conditions or are taking medications.

Valerian Root contraindications and precautions

Valerian root is generally considered safe for short-term use. However, there are certain contraindications and precautions to be aware of:

  • Allergies: Individuals with known allergies or hypersensitivity to valerian or related plants (such as daisies, ragweed, or marigolds) should avoid valerian root.
  • Pregnancy and breastfeeding: Valerian root’s safety during pregnancy and breastfeeding has not been well established. It is generally recommended to avoid its use during these periods due to limited research and potential risks.
  • Sedative medications: Valerian root has mild sedative effects. Combining it with other sedative medications, such as benzodiazepines or barbiturates, may enhance the sedative effects and result in excessive drowsiness or dizziness. It is advisable to consult a healthcare professional before using valerian root alongside sedative medications.
  • Hepatic impairment: Valerian root is primarily metabolized in the liver. Individuals with liver diseases or impaired liver function should exercise caution and consult a healthcare professional before using valerian root, as it may affect liver enzyme activity.
  • CNS depressants: Valerian root may have additive effects when used concurrently with central nervous system (CNS) depressants like alcohol, opioids, or certain medications. Combining these substances may increase the risk of excessive sedation and impaired coordination.
  • Surgery: Valerian root may have sedative effects and interact with anesthesia and other medications used during surgical procedures. It is recommended to discontinue valerian root use at least two weeks prior to scheduled surgery.

It’s important to note that these contraindications and precautions may vary depending on the individual’s health status, medication regimen, and other factors. If you are considering using valerian root or any herbal supplement, it is always advisable to consult with a healthcare professional or a qualified herbalist.