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October 20, 2008
Valerian extract is one of the most popular and safest herbal sleep aids, which has been used worldwide for many centuries. Valerian is the most valued for its sedative, relaxing and hypnotic effects, that is why it is considered an effective natural treatment for depression, stresses, insomnia, nervousness, anxiety disorders and other neurological problems. Traditionally, phytotherapistst used herbal preparations and mixtures of Valerian root with other sedative herbs (like Melissa offcicnalis, Anise seed, St. John’s wort or Chamomilla recucita) as herbal teas to promote sleep. Such teas used to be of a great aid in improving sleep patterns, decreasing the number of night wakings, reducing motor activity at night, and so on.
The chemical content of this medicinal herb is quite rich and includes a variety of amino acids: arginine, tyrosine, glutamine and g-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Medical researches showed that such components of Valerian as valeric acid, acetylvalerenolic acid and valepotriades are responsible for strong sedative properties of this medicinal plant to a great extent. However, general biologic and therapeutic activity of Valerian is based on interaction of the acids with neurotransmitter GABA (in particular, inhibition of GABA catabolism). Hydroxypinoresinal is another important constituent of Valerian.
Extracts and medicines containing Valerian can help not only relief nervous tensions and related problems. It is quite effective when combating muscular and menstrual pains, arthritis and pains in joints, cramps, spasms and high blood pressure. Valerian also assists in strengthening our immune system, supporting skeletal strength, reducing migraine syndromes and irritable bowel syndrome. Valerian is rated by AHPA (the American Herbal Products Association) as one of the safest herbal remedies if taken in reasonable dosages. At the same time, some patients can have reactions on this medicinal herb, which include headaches, nausea, blurred vision, chest tightness, high blood pressure and other symptoms. That is why it is not recommended to take Valerian to those, whose activities require alertness and concentration, to those who suffer from liver disease, as well as to pregnant and breastfeeding women.
Valerian can be taken in the forms of tablets, capsules, herbal teas and Valerian extract drops. Those who want to improve the quality of sleep should take Valerian tablets orally 30-60 minutes before going to bed. Valerian can be used as a dietary supplement by those patients, who need to calm down and relief the effects of depression, anxiety and stresses. If you opted for herbal tea with Valerian, remember that in order to benefit from therapeutic effects of volatile oils such teas should be prepared with boiled water at 70-75C. Do not take Valerian products for more than 14 days, and talk to your healthcare specialist who can help you select the best Valerian-containing product for your particular health situation.Author Info: Hi! My name is Carla and I am a 5th year medical student at HYMS. I am interested in alternative medicine and I have done months researching the topic of herbal medicine. Besides, I like interviewing people and learning more about their experiences with one or another type of herbal treatments. I am willing to contribute to this site with my knowledge, and I would be happy to help you out to the best of my ability with any specific questions or problems related to alternative medicine.