The Benefits of Valerian Root

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Introduction to the Benefits of Valerian Root

Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) is also known as garden heliotrope.  It is a flowering plant that comes from Europe andThe benefits of valerian root

certain parts of asia, but it now grows throughout North America, as well. Its scientific name comes from the Latin “valere,” which means to be strong or healthy so the benefits of valerian root are from nootropic benifits to many other health benefits.

In it’s history, it has been used for a whole bunch of medical problems such as epilepsy, some sleep disorders, of anxiety, menopause, headaches and migrane headaches, joint pain and asthma to name some.

Valerian root is extremely well known amongst traditional herbalists.  One interesting time in our history where it was used quite  bit was diuring the first and second world wars.  Soldiers used it as well as the general population.  They used is for what I have written above, but also for the treatment of shell shock and nervous stress associated with war.

If you are one of millions who have been faced with anxiety and/or sleep problems Valerian root can help.  Lets visit them now.

The Benefits of Valerian Root

Helps You Sleep

By far the most common use for valerian root is as a sleep aid, and a good one at that.  This plant can push your restlessness aside and rid you of insomnia.

The inability to sleep is commonly known as insomnia. By taking just 300-600 milligrams of valerian root before bed can easily get you back to a good regular sleep.

Valerian’s mild sedative effects have been used to promote relaxation and sleep for at least 2,000 years. Valerian may improve sleep by increasing GABA levels [1].

In fact, lower GABA levels are found in people with short and long-term stress and are linked to anxiety and poor sleep quality [2].

Try it as a tea for 4 weeks.  A common mix is 2 to 3 grams of the dried valerian root in hot water.  People all around the world rave about this.

Valerian root contains many antioxidants such as isovaleric and valeric acid which in tea become a powerful sleep aid.

One study done on post menopausal woment did show that supplementing with valerian root twice per day for a 4 week period improved the sleep quality in 30% of the participants [3].

Although scientists are still actively studying it, valerian appears to affect sleep by increasing levels of serotonin and noradrenaline.

 

 

Can Improve Focus & Concentration in Kids

Children by nature of being children have trouble focusing ( I know I have 2), but we want to keep that in check and not havce it become a problem in school and anything else in their lives.

Studies have been done using valerian root and one particular on that studied 169 children all under 12.  They were given a combination oif valerian root and lemon balm and the results after 7 weeks were a marked improvement in their ability to focus.

They also found that the combination of valerian root and lemon balm reduced impulsiveness in the children [4].  With more focus and less impulsiveness, the children’s sleep and social behavior improved.

Relieves Symptoms of Anxiety

Another term for valerian is “nature’s valium”.  This is because it has a very similar effect on anxiety as Valium and Xanax

Anxiety can be annoying and even debilitating.  It seems everything makes you nervous and there seems to be no way out.  This is where valerian root comes into play

There was a study that took 2,462 adulty participants suffering with major depressive disorder as well as anxiety.  They were given relatively high doses of valerian (1000mg/dy) along with 600mg/dy of St John’s Wort for a total of 6 weeks.  The resulty was a 66% reduction in their symptoms of depresion and anxiety [5].

In another study using women who underwent a painful and stressful medical procedure felt better 90 minutes after being given valerian.

 

Improve Stress ManagementThe benefits of valerian root

Stress disrupts sleep, our daily lives and gives us a pretty gloomy outlook on life.  We rant, yell, eat very poorly, and become poison to those around us.  Stress also kills, you betcha it does.

Can there be any reason not to take valerian root?

One study included 54 volunteer participants and had them deliberately stress themselves out using a particular mental experimant.  They were tracked using heart rate and blood pressure for seven days.  During this time some were given kava kava supplements, some a placebo, and some valerian.

Fifty-four volunteers signed up for a study to deliberately stress themselves out with a mental experiment (Who does that right? All in the name of research!). Researchers tracked participant’s heart rate and blood pressure for seven days; some participants took kava kava supplements, some took valerian, and some took a placebo [6].

When the study ended they found those taking kava and those taking valerian had a lower blood pressure during the test as well as feeling less stresed.  Those taking valerian also had better heart rate [7].

May Improve Cognitive Function and Memory

This flowering plant may also be able to improve the cognitive funcrion and memory for those with cognitive decline and age related cognitive decline.

Valterian root may be able to provide neuroprotective benefits for those with Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s.  One study using older mice fouind that their memory had very much improved after takng valterian acid [8].

May Improve Hyperactivity and Focus in Children with ADHD

Valterian root increases the GABA levels in our brains.  WIth a deficiency, you are susseptable to anxiety, obsesive behaviour, and restlessnes all of which are symptoms of ADHD [9]

when increasing your GABA levels you lessen the anxiety, obsessions, restlessness, and compulsive behavior associated with ADHD a well as OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder).

One study that included 30 children between the ages of 5 and 11.  They were given valerian 3 times/day for 2 weeks and showed improvements in their ADHS symptoms.  They had more attention, and less impulsiveness and/or hyperactivity.  After discontinuing valerian root, these improvements had disappeared.

In another study of 169 children who had concentration difficulties and hyperactivity, but didn’t need the criteria for ADHD was conducted.  hat was discovered was that valerian root and lemon balm decreased their restlessness, concentration problems, and impulsiveness [10].

For more on nootropics for ADHD read here

Lowers Blood Pressure

Now that we know valerian root helps you sleep, lowers anxiety, and helps you with stress, it certainly isn’t a surprise that it can lower blood pressure which improves your heart health.

There is not much if any evidence at all that valerian root directly lowers blood pressure, however decreased blood pressure is associated with taking valerian root.

One study in 2003 showed a decrease in blood pressure in those supplementing valerian for stress and anxiety.  What this suggests is that the decrease in high stress levels that are responsible for elevated blood pressure is responsible for lower blood pressure.

 

Valerian Root May Increase DreamingBenefits of valerian root

Any drugs that affect theGABA system have the potential to cause vivid dreams.  Valerian root is one of those and people taking it have reported these vivid dreams.

One study over a six week period including 24 volunteers with stress-induced insomnia showed that 16% of those taking the valerian root experienced vivid dreams [11].

 

For Menstrual Cramps

Once again as a result of valerian roots ability to relax us, it has been linked as a great pain reliever of menstrual cramps in women.

It works because of its natural relaxing effects.  Relaxing uterine contractions eases the pain associated with menstrual pain.

In Iran, a study found that valerian root had a dramatic effec on those women taking valerian root as opposed to the placebo [12].

 

Valerian Root Risks and Side Effects

Valerian root is reported to have no side effects.  Studies however show that indeed their may be side effects.  It has nevertheless been classified as “generally recognized as safe” in the US.

These side effects may include the following if taken beyond 4-8 weeks)

  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Itching
  • Nausea
  • Upset stomach
  • Dry mouth
  • Thinking problems
  • Strange dreams
  • Heart palpitations
  • Feeling excited or uneasy, especially at high doses 
  • Liver toxicity (hepatotoxicity) with long-term use at high doses 
  • Addiction is occasionally reported with withdrawal effects on sudden cessation

 

Taking Valerian Root

General guidelines for taking valerian root is to take it regularly for 2 or more weeks but not to exceed 8 weeks.The benefits of valerian root

For insomnia it is best to take it one to 2 hours before your bed time.

Here are some ideas on how to take valerian root especially for insomnia

  • Tea: Pour 1 cup boiling water over 1 teaspoonful (2 to 3 grams) of dried root, steep 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Tincture (1:5): 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoon (4 to 6 mL)
  • Fluid extract (1:1): 1/2 to 1 teaspoon (1 to 2 mL)
  • Dry powdered extract (4:1): 250 to 600 milligrams

 

Where to Buy Valerian Root

You can find valerian root at most health food stores, vitamin stores etc.  Be cautioned however that many brand you see on the shelves are of poor quality.  Purchasing from a reputable online vendor is always best

My suggestion to purchase is through Absorb Health or by clicking the bottle to the right.

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