Part Used: Fresh rhizome & roots
Valeriana (Valeriana officinalis) is a common perennial herb, up to 1.5m tall, with erect, fluted stems. It is known for its calming effect. Traditionally Valerian has been taken orally for insomnia and associated conditions such as anxiety-induced headache, nervousness, “nervous” stomach, and restlessness. It is also taken for anxiety, mental strain, lack of concentration, excitability, hysteria, stress, headache, epilepsy, premenstrual syndrome, symptoms of pregnancy, problems of menopause, nerve pain, fainting, stomach cramps, colic, and uterine spasms. Researchers believe that this action stems from the herb's tendency to boost levels of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), one of the chemical messengers in the brain. Valerian also seems to relax muscles and discourage spasms.
Valerian was best known to them as a diuretic and treatment for menstrual difficulties. It was an official remedy in the U. S. Pharmacopoeia from 1820 to 1936. It is used to reduce tension and anxiety, over-excitability and hysterical states. It is calming without exerting too sedative an effect and is practically non-addictive. It is a valuable treatment for insomnia, the sedative effect due to the valepotriates and the isovaleric acid, which is also responsible for the characteristic smell of valerian. Documented research has noted a mild hypnotic action in both normal sleepers and insomniacs, indicated by a beneficial effect on sleep latency, wake-time after sleep, frequency of waking, nocturnal motor activity, inner restlessness and tension and quality of sleep. The valepotriates have a regulatory effect on the autonomic nervous system - one fraction has a suppressant effect, another a stimulant one, so that in combination they have an amphoteric effect. The valepotriates have an antispasmodic action too, making the herb an appropriate remedy where pain is associated with tension. It helps relieve dysmenorrhoea and it can be of benefit in migraine and rheumatic pain. It may also be applied locally as a treatment for cramps and other muscle tensions.
PDR Health. http://www.pdrhealth.com/drug_info/nmdrugprofiles/herbaldrugs/102830.shtml
Drug Digest. http://www.drugdigest.org/DD/DVH/HerbsWho/0,3923,4047%7CValerian,00.html
All Natural. http://www.allnatural.net/herbpages/valerian.shtml
Purple Sage Botanicals. http://www.purplesage.org.uk/profiles/valerian.htm