Valeriana officinalis - Valerian root contains essential oils with sedative and relaxing effects

Does valerian root treat anxiety and insomnia?

Valerian is a plant that has modest sedative qualities and is used to help people sleep and cure anxiety. Is it, however, effective is valerian root? This is a question we explore in this article.

What is Valerian Root?

Valerian dietary supplements are commonly sold as sleeping aids in the United States (US). People in Europe are more likely to take them for anxiety and restlessness.

Although there are over 250 varieties of valerian, Valeriana officinalis is the most often utilised for medical purposes.

While medicinal valerian has been used since ancient Greece and Rome, there is little clinical proof that it is beneficial in treating insomnia and anxiety.

Nonetheless, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers valerian to be safe and gentler than synthetic medications like benzodiazepines and barbiturates. For these reasons, valerian may be worth a shot if you’re suffering from anxiety or insomnia.

Benefits of Valerian

Some possible benefits of valerian that have been reported by users include:

  • falling asleep faster
  • better sleep quality
  • relief from restlessness and other anxiety disorder symptoms
  • no “hangover effect” in the morning

However, stronger evidence is needed to be confident that valerian, and not some other factor, is responsible for these effects.

It is also necessary to determine whether a person’s insomnia and anxiety improvements are statistically significant.

Function of this herb

Many researchers believe that it is not just one chemical that is responsible for valerian’s effects, but a combination of the plant’s components.

According to the National Institutes of HealthTrusted Source, several of valerian’s chemical compounds have individually demonstrated sedative properties in animal studies.

It is also uncertain how valerian affects the brain. The most common theory is that valerian extract stimulates nerve cells to release a chemical called gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA.

GABA slows down nerve cell activity instead of exciting it.

Valerian extract may block an enzyme that destroys GABA, which means that more GABA is available for a longer amount of time.

All of these factors together might produce the calming effect that many who try valerian experience. Drugs such as Xanax and Valium also increase the amount of GABA in the body, and their effects are much greater than valerian.


Valerian nutritional supplements are often prepared from the plant’s roots, but stems can also be used. Valerian extracts, dried roots, and other plant components can be ingested in a variety of ways, including:

  • teas
  • tinctures
  • capsules
  • tablets

The recommended dose of valerian varies, but it usually ranges from 400 to 900 milligrammes (mg) at bedtime.

The amount of valerenic acid in the supplement may also influence the dosage. Valerenic acid is one of the most potent sedative components in valerian.

Herbalists recommend utilising valerian for only two to three weeks before taking a break for the same amount of time.

Herbalists advise taking this break because some people who have taken valerian for a long time have had negative side effects such as headaches, depression, or withdrawal when they stop using it.

In conclusion

Despite its gentleness, valerian is not recommended for pregnant or breast-feeding women because no research have been conducted on the potential hazards of valerian to a foetus or an infant.

Valerian should not be administered to children under the age of three because its effects on early development have not been studied.

Finally, if you are taking any of the following medications, you should talk to your doctor before taking valerian.

  • benzodiazepines (Xanax, Valium, and Ativan)
  • Depressants of the central nervous system, such as phenobarbital or morphine
  • food supplements that assist sleep, such as kava or melatonin

These medicines and supplements’ sedative and depressive qualities may interact with valerian, resulting in grogginess or more severe side effects.

Even if no other medications are being taken, it is always a good idea to consult a physician before taking any supplements, including valerian.

The doctor will advise you on whether valerian is a good choice, as well as which kinds and dosages are the safest and most effective.

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