VALERIAN Overview Information
Valerian is an herb. It is native to Europe and parts of Asia but also grows in North America. Medicine is made from the root.
Valerian is most commonly used for sleep disorders, especially the inability to sleep (insomnia). Valerian is also used orally for anxiety and psychological stress, but there is limited scientific research to support these uses.
In manufacturing, the extracts and oil made from valerian are used as flavoring in foods and beverages.
How does it work?
Valerian seems to act like a sedative on the brain and nervous system.
Possibly Effective for:
- Inability to sleep (insomnia). Although some conflicting research exists, most studies show that taking valerian can reduce the amount of time it takes to fall asleep by about 15 to 20 minutes. Valerian also seems to improve sleep quality. Doses of 400-900 mg of valerian extract taken up to 2 hours before bed seem to work best. Continuous use for several days, even up to four weeks, may be needed before an effect is noticeable. Some studies show that valerian can help improve sleep when combined with other herbs, including hops and lemon balm. Taking valerian might also improve the sleep quality of people who are withdrawing from the use of sleeping pills. However, some research suggests that valerian does not relieve insomnia as fast as "sleeping pills."
- Menopausal symptoms. Research shows that taking 225 mg of valerian root three times daily for 8 weeks can reduce the severity and frequency of hot flashes in postmenopausal women.
- Anxiety. There is contradictory evidence about the effectiveness of valerian for anxiety. Some early research shows that taking valerian may reduce anxiety. However, other studies have shown no effect. The conflicting results may be due to differences in doses used or the type/severity of anxiety being treated.
- Depression. Early research suggests that taking valerian plus St. John's wort improves symptoms of depression. Taking higher doses of valerian (1000 mg) with St. John's wort improves depression symptoms faster than low doses (500 mg).
- Menstrual disorders (dysmenorrhea). Early research suggests that taking 255 mg of valerian three times daily for two menstrual cycles reduces pain and the need for other pain relievers during menstruation.
- Restlessness. Early research suggests that taking one or two tablets of a specific combination product, providing 160 mg of valerian root extract and 80 mg of lemon balm leaf extract once or twice daily might reduce symptoms of serious restlessness (dyssomnia) in children under the age of 12.
- Stress. Early research suggests that taking 600 mg of valerian for 7 days before a mental stress test reduces blood pressure, heart rate, and feelings of pressure when under stress. Other research found that taking 100 mg of valerian before speaking in front of an audience reduces feelings of anxiety. Another study found that taking a single doses of a combination product containing 360 mg of valerian and 240 mg of lemon balm night lower anxiety caused by stress. However, the combination seems to increase anxiety when taken in larger doses of 1080 mg of valerian and 720 mg of lemon balm.
- Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
- Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).
- Menopausal symptoms including hot flashes and anxiety.
- Mild tremors.
- Muscle and joint pain.
- Stomach upset.
- Other conditions.
VALERIAN Side Effects & Safety
Valerian is LIKELY SAFE for most people when used in medicinal amounts short-term. Clinical research has reported safe use of valerian for medicinal purposes in over 12,000 people in studies lasting up to 28 days. The safety of long-term use is unknown. Some information suggests that valerian is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by children for 4-8 weeks.
Valerian can cause some side effects such as headache, stomach upset, mental dullness, excitability, uneasiness, heart disturbances, and even insomnia in some people. A few people feel sluggish in the morning after taking valerian, especially at higher doses. Some people experience dry mouth or vivid dreams. It's best not to drive or operate dangerous machinery after taking valerian. The long-term safety of valerian is unknown. It might cause withdrawal symptoms when discontinued after long-term use. To avoid possible side effects when discontinuing valerian after long-term use, it's best to reduce the dose slowly over a week or two before stopping completely.
Special Precautions & Warnings:Pregnancy or breast-feeding: There isn't enough information about the safety of valerian during pregnancy or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
Surgery: Valerian slows down the central nervous system. Anesthesia and other medications used during surgery also affect the central nervous system. The combined effects might be harmful. Stop taking valerian at least two weeks before a scheduled surgery.
Major Interaction Do not take this combination
- Alcohol interacts with VALERIAN
Alcohol can cause sleepiness and drowsiness. Valerian might also cause sleepiness and drowsiness. Taking large amounts of valerian along with alcohol might cause too much sleepiness.
- Alprazolam (Xanax) interacts with VALERIAN
Valerian can decrease how quickly the liver breaks down alprazolam. Taking valerian with alprazolam might increase the effects and side effects of alprazolam such as drowsiness.
- Sedative medications (Benzodiazepines) interacts with VALERIAN
Valerian might cause sleepiness and drowsiness. Drugs that cause sleepiness and drowsiness are called sedatives. Taking valerian along with sedative medications might cause too much sleepiness.
Some of these sedative medications include alprazolam (Xanax), clonazepam (Klonopin), diazepam (Valium), lorazepam (Ativan), midazolam (Versed), temazepam (Restoril), triazolam (Halcion), and others.
- Sedative medications (CNS depressants) interacts with VALERIAN
Valerian might cause sleepiness and drowsiness. Medications that cause sleepiness are called sedatives. Taking valerian along with sedative medications might cause too much sleepiness. Taking valerian along with sedative medications used in surgery might cause prolonged sedation.
Some sedative medications include pentobarbital (Nembutal), phenobarbital (Luminal), secobarbital (Seconal), thiopental (Pentothal), fentanyl (Duragesic, Sublimaze), morphine, propofol (Diprivan), and others.
Moderate Interaction Be cautious with this combination
- Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 3A4 (CYP3A4) substrates) interacts with VALERIAN
Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver.
Valerian might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Taking valerian along with some medications that are broken down by the liver can increase the effects and side effects of some medications. Before taking valerian, talk to your healthcare provider if you are taking any medications that are changed by the liver.
Some medications changed by the liver include lovastatin (Mevacor), ketoconazole (Nizoral), itraconazole (Sporanox), fexofenadine (Allegra), triazolam (Halcion), and many others.
The following doses have been studied in scientific research:
- For inability to sleep (insomnia):
- 400-900 mg valerian extract before bedtime for as long as 6 weeks, or
- 120 mg of valerian extract, with 80 mg of lemon balm extract before bedtime for up to 30 days, or
- 374-500 mg of valerian extract plus 83.8-120 mg of hops extract before bedtime for 2-4 weeks, or
- 300 mg of valerian extract, 80 mg of passionflower extract, and 30 mg of hops extract before bedtime for up to two weeks.
- Take valerian 30 minutes to 2 hours before bedtime.
- For menopausal symptoms: : 225 mg of ground valerian root has been taken three times daily for 8 weeks.