Valerian Root
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  • Valerian Root

Valerian Root

Reference: 720

(100 capsules), Stock No. 720-0 QV - 12.8

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• Provides gentle sleep support.
• Helps the body relax.
• Supports the nervous system.

Even though valerian is a large attractive plant with small white or pink flowers, its fragrance is not one of its major strong suits. Both the Greek doctor Dioscorides and the Roman doctor Galen complained about the smell of valerian in their writings. The only way to describe it is a cross between the odor of rotten cheese and dirty socks. In spite of its malodorous properties, valerian was hailed throughout the Middle Ages as and "all heal" herb. Held in great esteem by practitioners of the ages, valerian has been used for numerous disorders, mostly related to the nervous system.

History and Composition
Valerian Officinalis is native to Europe, North America, and the northern part of Asia. Altogether, the genus contains about 150 different species. These are widely distributed throughout the temperate zones. Both the root and the rhizome are highly prized for their healing properties. The major healing components found in the valerian root are valepotrits, valeranic acid, valeranone, valereal. These are all volatile oils that are found only in valerian. Other volatile oils in the root such as pineole, borneol, cineole, carophilene, and azulene are also commonly found in other herbs with healing properties. All of these oils exert anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, and nerve-calming effects on the body. In addition, the root contains alkaloids that are known to relieve pain and relax the body. Other ingredients found in the root include rutin, beta sitosterol, salicylic acid, and choline.1

How It Works
Valerian has been used for occasional sleeplessness for over 1,000 years. Its ability to help relax the central nervous system, promote feelings of calm, decrease levels of anxiety and stress, and enhance sleep are known to millions the world over.

Therapeutic Actions
Valerian can be classified in many different therapeutic categories. It is one of the best nervine herbs for its efficacy in treating disorders of the nervous system and in calming the entire body. Other categories include anodyne (pain reliever), anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, antiemetic, carminative (tones, soothes, and stimulates the digestive and elimination systems), sedative, hypnotic, antihypertensive, and antibacterial.

The herb valerian is most effective in treating a wide range of stress conditions such as irritability, depression, fear, anxiety, nervous exhaustion, hysteria, delusions, and nervous tension. It is also indicated for patients who suffer from insomnia. Valerian not only eases the trouble of falling asleep but also improves the quality of sleep during the night.2

After taking valerian, a patient will wake up very rested and alert without the grogginess seen with some over-the-counter sleeping pills. As a pain reliever, the herb is useful for treating tension headaches, migraine headaches, arthritis, and sore muscles.

Valerian has also been found to be effective in a number of nerve disorders. The herb is useful for treating shingles, sciatica, neuralgia, multiple sclerosis, and epilepsy. Symptoms suggestive of peripheral neuropathy such as numbness, tingling sensation, pain, and muscle weakness are effectively controlled with the use of valerian. It has also been used to treat attention deficit disorder in adults.

The herb has also found a role in treating a variety of nervous disorders in children. In one German study, an extract of valerian root was given to 120 children with a wide variety of behavioral disorders such as restlessness, sleep disorders, hyperactivity, learning disorders, bed wetting, anxiety, headache, and the habits of thumb sucking and nail biting. After three weeks of using valerian extract daily, 75 percent of the children showed marked improvement of their conditions without any toxicity or negative side effects.3

In ancient Rome, valerian was used to treat certain heart conditions. Through its positive action on the autonomic nervous system, the herb is effective in treating tachycardia by slowing down the heart at the same time gently increasing its force. It also is effective in regulating arrhythmias. Along with a stabilizing effect on the blood pressure, valerian is an anti- thrombotic that can be used to prevent the formation of blood clots.4

This stabilizing effect is also seen on the gastrointestinal and respiratory tracts. Valerian calms the stomach while encouraging the release of digestive enzymes and reducing the pain and discomfort of ulcers. In the colon, the herb alleviates cramps, gas, and diarrhea, and has a soothing effect on the bowel with colitis. Valerian has also proved helpful in the treatment of asthma.

Unlike other sedatives and drugs, valerian has none of the side effects or dependency risk that these have. In addition there is no synergistic effect when the herb is taken with alcohol. It can also be taken safely along with other prescription drugs. Valerian is used extensively in Europe where it is accepted by orthodox medicine. It is found in many over-the- counter preparations used to treat a variety of nervous disorders. As more practitioners discover the benefits of valerian, its use will increase in the United States as well.

Recommended Use
Take 1 capsule with a meal twice daily.

1. Pedersen, M. Nutritional Herbology. Bountiful, UT: Pedersen Publishing,1987, p. 248.
2. Leathwood, P.D., Chauffard, F. Aqueous extract of valerian improves sleep quality in man. Pharmacol Biochem Behavior 17:65-71, 1982.
3. Klich, R, Gladbach, B. Verhaltensstoerungen im kindesalter und deren therapie. MedizinischeWelt 26(25):1252-1254, 1975.
4. Mowrey, D.B. Herbal Tonic Therapies. New Canaan, CT: Keats Publishing, 1993, pp154-155

Martin Ravitzky is a holistic practitioner and health educator in New York City. To order reprints of this article, write to or call: Karen Ballen, Alternative and Complementary Therapies, 1651 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10128-3649.

  • QV: 12.8
Elva in Texas

Great For Pets with Fear of Storms & Thunder

We took in a dog named Max that a family no longer wanted after having a baby. He was quite hyper and nervous. We discovered he also had a fear of storms. He would go absolutely crazy and be very destructive during a storm. We tried some pills from the veterinarian to makes his days calmer, but they didn't seem to work. They made him act like he was in another world as he stumbled around, and he was still so anxious and crazy when we another storm followed the first. I don't like having an animal on drugs. I decided to use Valerian Root to calm him down since a friend told me of several dogs she knew that had used it with success for this problem. Valerian doesn't make him stumble and it calms him down enough so he can still play with the children, walk about and do what he wants without being so nervous. If it's real stormy, we have to give him two pills and that gets him through the storm. As you can see from the photograph, he is super relaxed as the storm passes by. We are thrilled that we can use Valerian to keep Max calm rather than nervous on any given day. He is a real clingy dog and doesn't like to be left alone, so I give Valerian to him whenever we're going to be gone from the house. He is so laid back now that it isn't even funny, but I should say until he sees a mouse and then, the race is on in slow motion. He will catch them and bring them to you.

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    Valerian Root

    Valerian Root

    (100 capsules), Stock No. 720-0

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