What is Valerian Root?
Valerian root is a sedative herb that has been used for centuries to treat stomach cramps, anxiety, insomnia, and migraine headaches.
It is a perennial plant that is native to Europe and grows wild in the grasslands, and, because of its pretty flowers, is often also used as garden and home decoration. Its most common use today is to treat sleep disorders as research has shown that it helps to calm nerves and induce drowsiness naturally without any harmful side effects.
The root of the plant is used as a medicinal supplement or is pressed into fresh juice. It can also be freeze-dried and made into a powder, and can be made into a relaxing kind of herbal tea. It has a sharp smell and is often combined with other herbal tinctures to make an ultra-calming mix.
How to make valerian root tea?
Valerian root is often added to many brands of ‘sleep-inducing’ and night time teas.
To make your own tea, 1 teaspoon of the powder or dried root can be added to 1 cup of boiling water and allowed to steep, ready to be sipped before bedtime. Some stores sell valerian root tea bags, which makes it even easier to make in the comfort of your home.
What are the health benefits of valerian
1. Treats Insomnia
Studies have shown that valerian is an excellent supplement for those who suffer from insomnia because it helps to reduces the time that it takes to fall asleep and improves the quality of sleep, leaving you feeling well rested.
Research has shown that it helps to increase the level of certain neurotransmitters in the brain, known as Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which helps to induce a feeling of sedation and drowsiness.
In one study conducted at a health center in Sweden, 89% of participants who were given valerian root supplements reported having improved sleep and 44% reported having perfect deep sleep.
Side effects of insomnia include weight gain, bad skin, depression, and anxiety, which means that taking valerian root could help to soothe several symptoms just by improving the quality of your sleep.
2. Reduces Stress
Increasing the level of GABA in the brain helps to regulate nerve cells, which reduces the symptoms of stress and anxiety. The American Institute of Stress (AIS) reports that up to 60% of all human illness and disease is caused by stress, which makes it very important to manage, even if it means seeking professional help.
One study published in 2006 showed that combining valerian root with lemon balm could significantly reduce stress and anxiety, even as much as many common prescribed medications. Further studies are still ongoing.
3. Lowers Blood Pressure
Chronic stress, anxiety, and fatigue can lead to high blood pressure, known as hypertension. Valerian root is so soothing to the mind and body that it actually naturally helps to lower blood pressure, which can prevent strokes, heart disease, and heart failure.
4. Treats Migraine Headaches
Migraine headaches are often triggered by stress, which makes valerian root the perfect antidote for those suffering from it. It helps to soothe nerves and calm the mind, releasing the stress naturally while reducing the symptoms of a migraine.
5. Soothes Menstrual Pain
For centuries, valerian root was used to treat stomach cramps and digestive disorders, even though there was little research to prove its effectiveness. Today, research has shown that it can be used as a natural treatment to relieve the symptoms of pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS), which includes cramping, bloating, and muscle spasms.
Any precautions or side effects?
While valerian root is classified as a non-harming herbal supplement, it is advisable to consult with your doctor before you start to use it.
Being naturally calming, it does have a sedative effect and can cause drowsiness, and impaired concentration, usually only in large doses.
It is not recommended to take with any other sedative medications, antihistamines, anti-fungal supplements, alcohol, or antidepressants because it is already naturally calming. It is also not recommended for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
How to it use as a supplement?
It can be bought as a supplement in various forms online or at health food stores, being most commonly sold in capsule, tablet, tincture, or fluid form.
It is best taken 1-2 hours before bedtime to induce sleepiness but can also be taken 2-3 times during the day to calm nerves and minimize anxiety.
The powder can be added to juice, milk, water, or stirred into a hot drink and is said to taste a lot better than it smells. It may take several weeks before it takes effect, so it is recommended as a daily routine for those suffering from insomnia, anxiety, and sleep disorders.