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Valerian Root

Botanical name:

Valeriana officinalis

Other names

Valerian root, garden valerian, garden heliotrope, all-heal

Ritual and cultural uses:

Valerian root was used as a nerve sedative and anti-spasmodic as well as a remedy for hysteria and other nervous complaints. Used since ancient times, Valerian (its name derived from the Latin 'valere', meaning 'to be in health'), has long been valued around the world. Valerian root comes from the perennial flowering Valerian plant, a hardy plant with sweet smelling pink or white flowers that blooms in summer. The root, once processed and dehydrated, is used as a medicinal herb with sedative, anxiolytic, and anti-insomnia effects in both tea and capsule form. Valerian has been used in this capacity since at least the Greek and Roman times and today is used not only because of these effects, but also as an anticonvulsant, migraine treatment, and pain reliever. It is native to Europe and some parts of Asia but is now cultivated in North America as well.
Muscle relaxant and mild tranquilliser. Feeling of 'floating in the air'. Potent sedating effects. While studies remain inconclusive about Valerian’s efficacy, extracts of the root appear to effect the GABA neurotransmitter receptor in mammalian nervous systems; this receptor system is the same system effected by sedative benzodiazepine drugs. Valerian can be used as a safer alternative to benzodiazepines, assisting with treatment of stress, tension, anxiety, and insomnia and has been used historically to treat gastrointestinal pain and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The root has also been used to transition patients off of benzodiazepines. Some reports of negative side effects of Valarian exist, stating that in some individuals Valarian can cause agitation and headaches, but one study indicated that Valarian appears to help sedate and agitated person and stimulate a fatigued person — essentially providing a balancing effect in the body.
NB. Prtolonged use may cause headaches , skin reactions and restlessness so it is recommended that it only be taken 2-3 weeks at a time, and then to break for several weeks.

Precautions / Contraindications

As Valarian is known to be a nontoxic sedative, dosing too much of the root can cause dizziness and drowsiness and as such Valarian should not be used before driving or operating heavy machinery. Similarly, being a depressant, chronic and continued use is not recommended as it could lead to apathy or mild depression. Valarian has a pungent, earthy aroma that is palatable to some but repellent to others. It is not recommended to combine Valarian with other sedatives and depressants, such as alcohol, benzodiazepines, or opiates as it can lead to depression of the central nervous system.


Happy High Herbs seventh edition book
How can I use herbs in my daily life - Isabell Shipard 3rd edition

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