Valerian – Health Benefits, Side Effects & Cautions

Latin name: Valeriana officinalis
Common names: Garden Heliotrope, Blessed herb, Red valerian

The valerian root also known as “Garden Heliotrope” and “Blessed Herb” is a plant that is native to Asia and Europe. Also found in North America, this herb has been known way back in the time of ancient Rome and Greece.

Valerian has feathery leaves with little white and pink flowers and also has an aromatic smell to it. Valerian was first prescribed by Galen, a Greek physician, to use for cases of insomnia. During the later centuries, this herb provided other medicinal purposes in treating other ailments in the body.

What it is used for:

  • Considered to be very effective in treating anxiety and sleeping disordersValeriana officinalis
  • Said to treat other conditions such as irregular heartbeat, headaches, depression and trembling
  • Could help in treating restlessness and promotes a natural sleeping pattern
  • Beneficial in treating muscle cramps and menstrual conditions (painful menstruation and PMS or premenstrual syndrome)
  • Known to be effective in coughs
  • Used for skin conditions like eczema, ulcers, minor sores and wounds
  • Soothes the nerves
  • Used for phobias and urinary incontinence

How it is used:

The underground stems (rhizomes, roots and essential oils) of the valerian plant are made into capsules, tablets, liquid extracts and also teas. The dried root of the valerian is used internally.

Side effects and cautions:

  • Safe for short use only (4 to 6 weeks). There has been no information available about long-term safety uses of this herb
  • Valerian may cause mild side effects such as dizziness, headaches and digestive discomfort. If these side effects reoccur more often than usual, make sure you tell your doctor as soon as possible
  • Do not use when currently taking sedative drugs and anti-depressants because this herb may cause drowsiness
  • The use of this herb during pregnancy and while breast feeding has not been clearly established. Consult your healthcare professional for safe usage of this herb

Valerian is a valuable herb to treat anti-depression because of its tranquilizing and sedative properties. It is a known treatment for insomnia, stress and anxiety and could also be used as a muscle relaxant. Consultation with your healthcare professional is always best before using any herbal treatments. Don’t rush into taking any natural herbal medicines without first talking with your doctor because of side effects and adverse effects that may occur. It is always better to have the knowledge before starting to use any herb.

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