Valerian Root is considered generally safe and promotes relaxation, stress relief, reduced anxiety and is an herbal sleep aid.
What is Valerian Root?
Valerian, also known as Valeriana officinalis is a perennial plant native to Europe and Asia and used as a medicinal herb. The root is either made into juice or powder.
It has been around since the second century A.D and was used to alleviate anxiety, insomnia and restlessness. It became very popular and commonly used in Europe since the 17th century.
Today, Germany’s commission E has approved Valerian as an effective mild sedative and in the USA it’s listed as GRAS (Generally Regarded As Safe) by the FDA.
This herbal sedative has a large amount of positive reviews online on the use and benefits, helping users sleep by providing a sense of calm relaxation and making them less anxious.
The effects of it may vary depending on the person. Our systems don’t all react the same way and in the case of Valerian this stands true.
In history, evidence believed, that the root of this plant aided in many ailments including stomach aches, PMS, hot flashes, insomnia and mild anxiety.
Some research suggests that it may take a few weeks to work effectively. Also combining it with other herbs that promote drowsiness including lemon balm or hops may enable it to work faster.
Valerian is widely used as an alternative to sleeping medications and is considered generally safe. Also, there is no evidence thus far that it causes dependency.
How Valerian Root Works
Research is still ongoing as to how it really works. Countless studies have both contradicted each other as well as agreed upon the effects of this root making the results inconclusive.
It is believed that it may be an anxiolytic, which is a substance that inhibits anxiety. Valerian root is thought to increase the release of a chemical called gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) that is found in the brain.
This substances helps adjust or manage the nerve cells and the results are a calming effect.
GABA is a neurotransmitter that reduces neural activity in the central nervous system. When release of the chemical is increased, it prevents anxiety, balances moods and promotes sleep.
It is thought to have some similar effects to alcohol where it stimulates other GABA receptors that feel like they have the same effects.
Valerian Root Side Effects
Most reported side effects have been based more on personal experience rather than research. Commonly, this has been due to taking large dosages. Some reported side effects have been;
- stomach aches
Commonly, studies suggest there have been no serious side effects related to Valerian root when used over a 28 day period. Long-term use is still unknown.
It is not recommended for pregnant or breast feeding women or if taking other medications that induce drowsiness.
There have been other reported concerns regarding day after “hangovers” when taking large doses the prior day. There have been no reported allergic reactions, at least from our research thus far.
Like all supplements, if you have any concerns or questions, please speak to your doctor first.
Valerian Root Dosage
There is a wide range of Valerian products available in different forms. It is suggested to look for the highest concentration of the natural root extract of this plant as it contains the majority of the active ingredients.
It is also thought that the liquid or dry leaf forms of Valerian can be eventually toxic when not used for an extensive period of time.
When starting on any new Nootropic, it is always recommended to take the lowest dose possible to be able to gauge your body’s effect and see what works best for you.
The most optimal time to take it is about an hour or two before going to bed.
The dosages can vary but it is suggested to be between 400mg to 900mg in regards to powder form or capsules to help you sleep.
During the day, if you are taking this supplement to reduce mild anxiety, the recommended dosage is 400mg once or twice daily.
Take precaution when using this during the day if you are taking other supplements as it may cause extreme drowsiness.
Also, if you want to stop taking Valerian, it is suggested to lower your dosage gradually as opposed to stopping it completely.