Valerian

General Information

Common Name:

Valerian

Latin Name:

Valeriana officinalis

Family:

Valerianaceae

Other Names:

  • All heal.
  • Belgian valerian.
  • Fragrant valerian.
  • Indian valerian.
  • Garden heliotrope.

Indications & Historical Uses

Valerian in the form of dried rhizome [underground stems ] and root of the Valerian officinalis plant, has been used for over 1,000 years as a valued calmative agent, tranquillizer and hypnotic. The German Commission E has indicated that Valerian is an effective treatment for restlessness and for sleep disturbances resulting from nervous conditions. It is used extensively and effectively in Europe, and in France and it is the most widely used and prescribed hypnotic Its general indications are as follows:

  • Insomnia (Sleeplessness).
  • Nervous tension, anxiety.
  • Headache.
  • Palpitations without any cause.
  • Irritable bowel syndrome.
  • Menstrual cramps.
  • Mild cases of attention deficit disorder (ADD).
  • It is very important to note that valerian does not cause any hangover effects after use.

Contraindications & Precautions

Contraindications:
No known toxicity High doses (5 gms per day) may lead to withdrawal symptoms if taken for a long period of time. Avoid prolonged use and large doses. See Caution.

Precautions:
No known toxicity High doses (5 mgs per day) may lead to withdrawal symptoms if taken for a long period of time. Avoid prolonged use and large doses.

Adverse Effects:
No known toxicity High doses (5mg per day) may lead to withdrawal symptoms if taken for a long period of time. Avoid prolonged use and large doses. See Caution.

Drug Interaction:
See Caution. No drug interactions known, however, people who use Valerian might be wise to avoid taking any hypnotic or sedative agents e.g. benzodiazepines.

Dosage Information

How Supplied:

200mg and 500mg tablets.

Dosage:

200mg – 500mg per day.

Pharmacology

The sedative effects of Valerian root are attributed to the Valpotriates, which are a group of unstable compounds whose byproducts also possess sedative activity. Other components, such as the pungent Valeric and Isovaleric acids also have CNS depressant activity. Numerous clinical trials with Valerian have established both subjective and objective improvements in sleep quality, tension disturbances and behavior disorders without causing a hangover effect the next day. Valerian has been studied for its effects on the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) which is the same neurotransmitter affected by barbituates and benzodiazepines. Animal research has shown that extracts of valerian root does in fact increase the levels of GABA in the synapse .. It is postulated that Valerian exerts its effect by increasing a carrier protein-dependent re-uptake of the neurotransmitter, hence, Valerian root may be considered a re-uptake inhibitor of GABA somewhat similar to serotonin re-uptake inhibition by the SSRI’s .

Active Ingredients:

  • Valpotriates.
  • Valeric acid.
  • Sesquiterpenes.
  • Glycoside.
  • Essential oils.

Enhancing Agents:

  • Passion flower.
  • Hops hawthorn.
  • Phosphotidylserin.

Origin

Valerian Officinalis is a tall perennial that grows in temperate regions of North America, Europe ,and Asia.. Clusters of tiny white or reddish flowers bloom in summer. The herb emits an unpleasant odor as it dries .There are over 200 valeriana species but V. officinalis is the species most frequently cultivated for medicinal use. Since ancient Greek times ,valerian has been valued as an antispasmodic and as a sleep aid. Today ,valerian is widely used throughout Europe as a mild sedative and as a sleep aid for insomnia .

Processing

Valerian roots are collected in spring and fall and dried. This dried product is then cold percolated with alcohol and water, and evaporated at cool temperature. It is then purified and standardized.

Scientific References

Chauffard, F. et al. (1982) Detection of mild sedative effects: Valerian and sleep in man. Experimentia 37:622.

Delsignore, R. et al. (1980) Placebo controlled clinical trial with valerian. Settimana Medica 68(8):437.

Drieglsten, J. and Grusla, D. (1988) Central depressant constituent in Valerian. Deutsche Apotheker Zeitung. 40:204l.

Foster, S. (1991) Valerian. American Botanical Council.

Hendriks, R. et al (1981) Pharmacological screening of Valerenal and some other components of essential oil of Valeriana officinalis. Planta Medica 42:62.

Klich, R. and gladbach, B. (1975) Childhood behavior disorders and their treatment. Medizinische Welt. 26(25):1251.

Lindahl, O. and Lindwall, L. (1989) Double blind study of a valerian preparation. Pharmacology Biochem. & Behavior. 32:1065.

Mowrey, D. (1990) The Scientific Validation of Herbal Medicine. Cormorant Books.

Weiner, M. (1990) Weiner’s Herbal. Mill Valley: Quantum Books.

Klotz, V.:Lancet 335:992 (1990).

Tyler, V. E.: The Honest Herbal, A Sensible Guide and use of Herbs and related readings, 3rd edition, (1997), Pharmaceutical Products Press .

Boeters, U. (1969) Treatment of autonomic dysregulation with valepotriates (Valmane). Pressdizinische Wochenschrift 37:1873.

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