The Valerian plant is also known as Amantilla, Baldrian, Garden heliotrope, Setwall, Tagar (in Ayurvedic medicine), and Xie cao (in traditional Chinese medicine). It is a flowering plant native to Asia and Europe. The root of valerian plants has been used as an herbal remedy for ages to treat insomnia. This use to treat insomnia dates back to the Greek and Roman empires.
Hippocrates noted the use of this plant and its roots to treat various health issues such as headaches, insomnia, nervousness, trembling, etc. The Valerian plant contains an acid known as valerenic acid that affects the GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) receptors in our brains. One of the purposes of GABA receptors in our body is to control fear and anxiety. By producing such results concerning GABA receptors, valerian root acts as a mild sedative and anxiety-reducing drug. Valerian is available in all sorts of products, such as teas, oils, tinctures, capsules, and tablets.
Many practitioners believe that valerian root can treat various health conditions such as insomnia, headaches, fatigue, post-workout muscle pain, digestive problems, menopause symptoms, etc. However, it is essential to note that the evidence regarding this claim is mixed, so there is no clear result supporting the claim.
Here are some of the common uses of valerian root.
Valerian root is famously known for being a remedy for insomnia. Despite the fact that this herb is so popular among customers, there is little evidence supporting this claim that it can promote sleep and improve sleep quality.
Valerian root is the natural alternative to prescription anxiety-reducing drugs, such as Xanax, Valium, Ativan, etc., that act on GABA receptors to calm the nerves. It is important to note that there is some evidence supporting these claims; nevertheless, the evidence is not enough to make a concrete statement. The acid present in the valerian plant, that is valerenic acid, tends to act on GABA receptors to enhance GABA transmission without causing any sedative effects experienced by Valium.
Women commonly experience hot flashes during their menopause, and valerian root can minimize them. The exact mechanism of this process of how valerian root helps minimize hot flashes is yet to be known, as the valerian root does not seem to influence the body’s hormone levels directly.
In a study conducted in Iran that included 68 women subjects with menopause, a daily triple dose of 225 milligrams of valerian capsules for eight weeks resulted in a reduction in the severity and frequency of the hot flashes.
Possible Side Effects
Almost all clinical trials of valerian root have shown a positive result and have resulted in little to no side effects of its daily valerian doses over a short span. As for the few side effects, none of them were severe cases. They recorded mild headaches, dry mouth, dizziness, vivid dreams, upset stomach, and itchiness.
It is essential to mention that there have been rare liver damage cases, which usually occur due to overuse of the supplement in excess quantity or because of using “wold-crafted” dried root. It is, however, unknown whether the cause of the liver damage was the valerian root or any contaminants present. To avoid such injuries, make sure you consult your doctor before using valerian root supplements and also get your liver enzymes monitored regularly.
Another noted side-effect of valerian supplements is excessive sleeping when paired with other drugs or antidepressants. Due to a lack of research, you shouldn’t use valerian supplements for children, pregnant women, and nursing mothers. It should also be used with caution by heavy drinkers and people suffering from lung-related issues.
Is Valerian Root Safe?
According to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), valerian root is recognized as a generally safe item, but there are mild side effects. Possible side effects are:
- Stomach upset
Like most herbal products and supplements used in the USA, regulations on valerian root aren’t that strict by the FDA. One of the valerian roots’ mild side effects is drowsiness, so one should not operate heavy machinery after consuming it.
Who Shouldn’t Consume Valerian Root?
Valerian root is considered generally to be a safe substance; however, some categories should avoid using valerian root, and those are:
- Pregnant women or nursing women
There is no conclusive report that proves any harm done by Valerian Root concerning nursing mothers and pregnant women. However, there are some risks, so it is better to stay on the safe side.
There are no per se risks; however, the lack of study on children below three years of age is why they should deter using it.
There are many mixed reports regarding Valerian root’s benefits to treat various illnesses such as anxiety, sleep, etc. Some reports show positive and great results; however, some have absolutely no difference.
There you have all you need to know about Valerian root and its many benefits. Since there are many mixed reports, one cannot make a conclusive statement about the Valerian root results and outcomes. If you choose to use Valerian root, make sure you consult a doctor regarding the safety and dosage.