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Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)

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Also listed as: Valeriana officinalis
Related terms
Background
Evidencetable
Tradition
Dosing
Safety
Attribution

Related Terms
  • (1R,3R,5R,7S,8S,9S)-3,8-epoxy-1-O-ethyl-5-hydroxyvalechlorine, (1S,3R,5R,7S,8S,9S)-3,8-epoxy-1-O-ethyl-5-hydroxyvalechlorine, (1S,3R,5R,7S,8S,9S)-3,8-epoxy-1,5-dihydroxyvalechlorine, 2S(-)-hesperidin, (5S,6S,8S,9R)-1,3-isovaleroxy-?4,11-1,3-diol, (5S,6S,8S,9R)-3-isovaleroxy-6-isovaleroyloxy-?4,更-1,3-diol, (5S,6S,8S,9R)-6-isovaleroyloxy-?4,更-1,3-diol, (5S,7S,8S,9S)-7-hydroxy-8-isovaleroyloxy-?4,更-dihyronepetalactone, (5S,7S,8S,9S)-7-hydroxy-10-isovaleroyloxy-?4,更-dihyronepetalactone, (5S,8S,9S)-10-isovaleroyloxy-?4,更-dihyronepetalactone, 6-methylapigenin, 6'-O-acyl-beta-D-glucosyl-clionasterols, 14-methylpentadecanoyl, actinidine, all-heal, amantilla, Balderbrackenwurzel (German), Baldisedron, Baldrian (German), Baldrian-Dispert, Baldrianwurzel (German), baldrinal, baldrion, Belgian valerian, blessed herb, capon's tail, chlorogenic acid, chlorovaltrates A-O, clionasterol-3-O-beta-D-glucopyranoside, common valerian, English valerian, Euvegal forte, flavonoids, fragrant valerian, garden heliotrope, garden valerian, German valerian, great wild valerian, Harmonicum Much, heliptrope, herba benedicta, hexadecanoyl 8E, hexadecanoyl, 8E,11E-octadecadienoyl, homobaldrinal, Indian valerian, irioids, isovaleric acid, Jacob's ladder, Japanese valerian, jatadoids A-B, jatairidoids A-C, Katzenwurzel (German), kessanes, laege-baldrian (Danish), Li 156, lignans, Mexican valerian, monoterpenes, Nature Made, Nature's Resource, Nature's Way Valerian, Nervex, Neurapas balance, Neurol, Orasedon, Pacific valerian, phu, phu germanicum, phu parvum, pinnis dentatis, racine de valriane (French), radix valerian, red valerian, rupesin B, Sanox-N, Seda-Kneipp, Sedamine, Sedonium, sesquiterpenes, setewale capon's tail, setwall, setwell, tagara (Sanskrit), terpenoids (valepotriates), theriacaria, Ticalma, vaimane, valariana, Valdispert, Valdispert forte, valepotriates, valeranone, valerenal, valeriana (Italian), Valeriana edulis, Valeriana edulis Nutt., Valeriana faurieri, Valeriana foliis pinnatis, Valeriana jatamansi, Valeriana jatamansi Jones, Valeriana officinalis L., Valeriana officinalis var. latifolia, Valeriana procera Kunth (Mexican valeriana), Valeriana radix, Valeriana sitchensis, Valeriana sitchensis Bong., Valeriana wallichii, Valeriana wallichii DC., Valerianaceae (family), Valerianae radix, Valerianaheel, valriane (French), Valerina Forte, Valerina Natt, valerinic acid, Valmane, valtrate, Valverde, Valverde Sleeping Syrup, vandal root, Vermont valerian, volatile oils, volvaltrate B, wild valerian, Ze 185, Ze 91019, Ze 911.
  • Note: Valeriana procera Kunth (Mexican valerian) is sometimes used as a substitute for Valeriana officinalis L. Other valerian species used in commercial preparations include Valeriana jatamansi Jones, Valeriana edulis Nutt., and V. sitchensis Bong. Although the primary focus of this bottom line is on Valeriana officinalis, information pertaining to other Valeriana species has been identified whenever possible.

Background
  • Limited evidence suggests that valerian may benefit women with moderate-to-severe menstrual cramps by relieving pain and reducing the need for pain relievers.
  • Valerian is often used to treat sleep disorders and anxiety. Early studies suggest that valerian may help improve sleep quality. Ongoing use may be more effective than single-dose use. However, more high-quality research is needed before firm conclusions can be made.
  • Studies report that valerian is generally well tolerated for up to 4-6 weeks. It may rarely cause mild side effects such as dizziness, hangover, or headache. Early research suggests that small doses of valerian may lack effect on alertness, concentration, coordination, and reaction time. However, other studies report that valerian may slow the processing of complex thoughts for a few hours after use.

Evidence Table

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. GRADE *


Early research suggests that valerian may help reduce the pain of menstrual cramps and lower the intake of pain relievers. Although promising, further study is needed to confirm these results.

B


Valerian has been proposed as a treatment for anxiety and panic disorder. However, compelling evidence is lacking. Available studies may be of low quality, and several have used valerian in combination with other herbs, such as passion flower or St. John's wort. More research is needed in this area.

C


Early research suggests valerian, passion flower, and St. John's wort combined may have effects on brain activity similar to those of some antidepressants. However, there is a lack of information on the effects of valerian alone. Further study is needed before conclusions can be made.

C


Research suggests that depression and anxiety symptoms may improve faster with valerian and St. John's wort combined. Higher doses of valerian may be more effective. Although promising, further research is needed in this area.

C


Valerian supplements have been studied for sleep disorders, such as insomnia. However, findings have been inconsistent. Although some studies report improvement in sleep quality, others have found unclear results. Early evidence suggests that ongoing use may be more effective than single-dose use. Products that use a combination of valerian with hops or St. John's wort may be promising. More research is needed before the effectiveness of valerian may be confirmed.

C


Valerian has been studied along with other herbs for sleep problems and hot flashes during menopause. Early research suggests that a combination formula containing ginseng, black cohosh, soy, green tea extracts, kava, hops, and valerian extracts may be effective. Further study is needed on the effects of valerian alone.

C


There is some evidence that valerian may have sedative effects. However, there is controversy in this area. Research suggests that single doses taken by mouth in healthy people may lack effect on alertness or sedation. However, early study of combination valerian and lemon balm has shown promise in treating restlessness in children. More study is needed to determine the possible effects of valerian in different populations.

C


Valerian has been shown to reduce blood pressure and heart rate in healthy people undergoing mental stress. When combined with lemon balm, valerian may help reduce anxiety, although increased anxiety has been seen with higher doses. More high-quality study is needed to understand the effects of valerian alone.

C
* Key to grades

A: Strong scientific evidence for this use
B: Good scientific evidence for this use
C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use
D: Fair scientific evidence for this use (it may not work)
F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likley does not work)


Tradition / Theory

The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.

  • Acne, amenorrhea (lack of menstrual period), anorexia, anti-spasm, antiviral, arthritis, asthma, bloating, chest pain, colic, constipation, cough, cramping, cyanosis (blue skin due to lack of oxygen), digestive problems, dizziness, epilepsy, fatigue, fever, gas, hangovers, headache, heartburn, heart disease, heart failure, high blood pressure, HIV, hypnotic, hypochondria, improving urine flow, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), kidney stones, liver disorders, measles, memory enhancement, menstrual flow stimulant, migraine, musculoskeletal conditions, nausea, nerve pain, nervous system disorders, pain relief, peptic ulcer disease, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), respiratory disorders (lung spasms), restless legs syndrome, rheumatic pain, seizures, skin disorders, skin sores, stomach disorders, stomach upset, sweating, urinary tract disorders, vaginal yeast infections, vision enhancement, withdrawal from tranquilizers.

Dosing

Adults (18 years and older)

  • In general, valerian has been studied for 4-6 weeks. It should not be used for longer without the supervision of a healthcare provider.
  • For anxiety disorders, 81-270 milligrams of valerian extract (Valdispert) has been taken by mouth as a single dose or daily for four weeks. Doses of 100 milligrams of valerian have been taken by mouth three times daily for 21 days. Doses of 150-300 milligrams of a valerian product (Valmane) have been taken by mouth daily.
  • For menstrual cramps, one capsule containing 255 milligrams of powdered valerian root has been taken by mouth three times daily for three days, starting on the first day of menstruation for two menstrual cycles.
  • For insomnia, valerian has been taken by mouth in the form of a tea (1.5-3 grams of root steeped for 5-10 minutes in 150 milliliters of boiling water). Doses of 45-1,800 milligrams of valerian (Nature Made Nutritional Products, Nature's Resource, Valerina Forte, LI 156, Harmonicum Much) have been taken by mouth daily one hour before bedtime for up to eight weeks or as a single dose. The following forms and doses of valerian have been taken by mouth: Baldisedron, dose and duration unknown; 500-1,200 milligrams of concentrated valerian; 60-900 milligrams of extract (alcoholic, aqueous, root, Sedonium, Valdispert Forte, or Ze911), 2-3 times daily for eight days up to four weeks; 6.4 milligrams of valerianic acid, for periods of 1-56 days; and two tablets or capsules (Baldrian Dispert, Nature's Way) containing 200-470 milligrams of dried valerian root or powder 30 minutes before bedtime for one night, nightly for one week, or twice daily for 14 days. A single dose of Valerina Natt containing 400 milligrams of valerian, 160 milligrams of lemon balm, and 375 milligrams of hops has been taken by mouth.
  • For sedation, valerian has been taken by mouth as a tea (1.5-3 grams of root steeped for 5-10 minutes in 150 milliliters of boiling water). Valerian has been taken by mouth in the following forms and doses: 600 milligrams of valerian extract daily for 14 days; 800 milligrams of Valverde before bed; and 150-300 milligrams of Valmane daily.
  • For stress, two 600 milligram valerian tablets (LI 156) have been taken by mouth daily for seven days.

Children (under 18 years old)

  • Note: Evidence is lacking to support the use of valerian in children. Some experts recommend against the use of valerian in children younger than three years old.
  • For learning or sleep disorders, valerian has been taken by mouth.
  • To treat relieve stress, valerian has been taken by mouth as a tea (1.5-3 grams of valerian root steeped in 150 milliliters of boiling water) 5-10 minutes before or after stressful events. Doses of 100-600 milligrams of valerian extract have been taken by mouth before or after stressful events.

Safety

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

Allergies

  • Avoid in people with known allergy or sensitivity to valerian, its parts, or members of the same family.

Side Effects and Warnings

  • Valerian is likely safe when taken by mouth in doses of 400-600 milligrams of root extract daily by otherwise healthy people for the short term. Valerian root is widely thought to be safe in recommended doses for 4-6 weeks.
  • Valerian may cause changes in heart rate, delirium, diarrhea, dizziness, excitability, headache, heartburn, heart failure, hypothermia (low body temperature), impaired concentration or thinking, increased breast cancer risk, insomnia, liver toxicity, movement problems, muscle fatigue, nausea, shaky hands, skin rash, sperm abnormalities, stomach pain, uneasiness, upset stomach, valerian withdrawal, and vomiting.
  • Valerian may interfere with the way the body processes certain drugs using the liver's "cytochrome P450" enzyme system. As a result, the levels of these drugs may be altered in the blood, and may cause altered effects or potentially serious adverse reactions. People using any medications should check the package insert, and speak with a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist, about possible interactions.
  • Drowsiness or sedation may occur. Use caution if driving or operating heavy machinery.
  • Valerian may increase the risk of bleeding. Caution is advised in people with bleeding disorders or taking drugs that may increase the risk of bleeding. Dosing adjustments may be necessary
  • Use caution when taking preparations that have high concentrations of valepotriates and baldrinals.
  • Use cautiously in people who have breast cancer, heart disorders, liver dysfunction, and stomach or intestine disorders, or those taking agents that affect gamma-aminobutyric-acid A (GABA[A]) receptors, agents that are toxic to the liver, antidepressants, central nervous system (CNS) agents, sedatives, and sleep-inducing agents.
  • Use cautiously in children, especially those under three years of age.
  • Avoid two weeks before and during surgery, and in pregnant or breastfeeding women.
  • Avoid in people with known allergy or sensitivity to valerian, its parts, or members of the same family.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

  • There is a lack of scientific evidence on the use of valerian during pregnancy or breastfeeding. Avoid in pregnant or breastfeeding women.

Attribution
  • This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).

Copyright 2011 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)


The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.

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