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Latin Name: Valeriana officinalis (Smells bad - Works good!)
Common Name: Valerian, All Heal, Garden Heliotrope
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Valerian Root has been extensively researched and is used worldwide for its calming and relaxing effects. Valerian is most effective in nervous conditions which are stress-induced. It has achieved wide acclaim as a mild, non-tranquilizing sedative in Europe and is available there in a variety of proprietary preparations.
According to the structure/function claim documentation, the European extracts in the line have removed valepotriates, the fraction that was previously believed to be carcinogenic. Recent studies have indicated that this fraction is both safe and also very highly volatile which means that very little is left in whole-root products.
Modern phytomedicine preparations of Valerian root are typically concentrated extracts with a minimum volatile oil content of 0.5%. (Our Product is standardized to 0.8%) This portion of the root is high in constituents like valerenic acid that are largely responsible for Valerian's sedating properties.
Research has indicated the ability of Valerian root to decrease the time it takes a person to get to sleep. Clinical studies have demonstrated Valerian's ability to both help a person to get to sleep and also have a deeper, more restful night's sleep.
A recent study in Germany compared the sleep of volunteers taking either a standardized Valerian product, combining a concentrated extract of Valerian root and an extract of Lemon Balm, or the benzodiazepine Halcyon (This is the one President Bush Sr. used). Sleep was monitored over nine nights. Both groups showed a significant improvement in ability to get to sleep as well as quality of sleep. However, the Halcyon group showed problems with "hangover" whereas the Valerian/Lemon Balm group showed no impairment of their daily routine.
Based on these reports and regular medical use, Valerian has become the natural medicine treatment of choice for persons suffering from insomnia both in Europe and the United States. Valerian's non-addictive properties make it a logical alternative to the potentially addictive drugs commonly recommended for sleep in this country.
Valerian actually has a weak binding of the same receptors in the brain that the group of drugs known as benzodiazepines bind. It is important to note that the active compounds in Valerian act weakly when binding benodiazepine reports compared to drugs like Valium and Xanax. While this action helps explain Valerian's ability to act as a sedative, it is not associated with the dependence and potential addiction common with the above-mentioned drugs.
Valium is not related in any way to the herb Valerian. Although the names sound similar and both are used in the treatment of insomnia and anxiety, the association ends there. Valerian is free of the side effects the prescription drug Valium often has.
An intriguing area of clinical application for Valerian Combination products
is persons attempting to withdraw from benzodiazepines. Clinical experience is
indicating that Valerian extracts may ease the withdrawal symptoms and serve as
a non-addictive substitute for benzodiazepines in long-term treatment of
anxiety. The use of Valerian root and Valerian combination products for anxiety
includes the use of the herb during the day as well as night. Use of Valerian
during withdrawal from benzodiazepines should only be done under the supervision
of a healthcare professional.
There is some controversy regarding whether it is safe for pregnant or lactating women. European Pharmacopoeias list no contraindication to use of Valerian root during pregnancy or lactation. However, as a general rule, caution and moderation are advised. Persons taking sedatives or antidepressants should consult their physician before taking Valerian. Should not be used by children under 12 years of age. Concomitant use of Valerian with alcoholic beverages is contraindicated. Alcohol will increase the sedating effect. Although Valerian is not known to over-sedate as a rule, individuals should be urged to avoid driving or operating heavy equipment if taking large doses as drowsiness may result. Also, Valerian root should not be taken in large dosages for prolonged periods of time. Valerian should be avoided for those with a nervous condition characterized as hot, overactive, or excitable. (Other more passive remedies such as Scullcap or Passion Flower should be recommended in these cases.)
The information provided on this site is for informational purposes only and is not meant to substitute for advice provided by a healthcare professional. The information provided should not be used for diagnosing, treating or prescribing medication for treatment of a disease or health-related condition. You should carefully read all information provided in product packaging and follow the appropriate directions for use. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, promptly contact your healthcare professional.
Valerian root contains two substances of special pharmacological interest--valepotriates and sesquiterpenes. The former, which has been used for standardization of the drug, is cytotoxic. The latter has no such effect. Both have sedative effects. A double blind test has been carried out on a preparation (VALERINA NATT) containing primarily sesquiterpenes. When compared with placebo it showed a good and significant effect on poor sleep (p less than 0.001). Forty-four percent reported perfect sleep and 89% reported improved sleep from the preparation. No side effects were observed.1
1. Pharmacol Biochem Behav 1989 Apr;32(4):1065-6 Double blind study of a valerian preparation.
2. Valerian as a hypnotic for Hispanic patients. Dominguez RA,
Bravo-Valverde RL, Kaplowitz BR, Cott JM.
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