14 Health Benefits of Valerian Root

Valeriana officinalis better known as Valerian root is a form of flowering plant that is native to Asia and Europe. The root of the Valerian plant has been used to treat various ailments, the most notable being insomnia. One of the oldest recorded uses of Valerian root was by Hippocrates, who used the plant to reduce the effect of headaches, heart palpitations, and anxiety.

The active ingredient in the plant that provides healing benefits is valerenic acid. It is thought that valerenic acid interacts with the gamma-aminobutyric acid receptor in the brain. The root can help relax the nerve cells that get overexcited which makes it a great natural anxiolytic and sedative. You can find the root as a supplement in many forms. It is available as an essential oil for topical use, as capsules, tinctures, extracts, tablets, and even as a tea. Some of the benefits of Valerian root are below.

1- Helps to Treat Insomnia

Valerian root is used for a wide number of ailments, but the one it is most known for is insomnia treatment. Valerian root is a calming herb that helps the mind and body to relax. It works in a similar fashion to kava and chamomile. Most studies suggest that a person should consume between 300 and 600 milligrams of the herb at least an hour before bedtime for the most effectiveness.

This will help the body relax while also giving the herb time to circulate through the entire system. Valerian root is available in pill form and it can also be taken as a tea. For tea, simply soak three grams of dried valerian root for ten minutes. Drink hot. As with most herbal sleep aids, it is a good idea to speak with your doctor before starting a new regimen. You can also pair valerian root with other herbal calming aids.

2 – A Home Remedy For Anxiety

Valerian root has a calming effect on the brain and on the body. Those who suffer from anxiety but prefer not to take prescription can use this herb instead. According to some studies, Valerian root is the natural alternative to anxiety drugs such as Klonopin, Xanax, Ativan, and other similar medications. The herb acts in the GABA receptors of the brain similar to how prescription drugs interact with the brain. While prescription-strength medication has a sedative effect, the acid from the root interactive with the brain but doesn’t create the pronounced sedative effect that many people would prefer to avoid.

For people who suffer from mood and anxiety disorders, this herb may be an effective alternative. One study at Harvard Medical School tested a wide range of herbal supplements to determine their effectiveness in controlling anxiety. Of all the herbs tested, Valerian root proved to be the one that performed the best.

3- Effective for Stress Management

There are lots of reasons to be stressed out. However, there is an equal amount of options for reducing stress. A very beneficial option is through regular exercise. Nature is very relaxing by design so hiking is a good option if you are not a gym type of person. Taking a walk in nature allows you to utilize your senses to calm your nerves. Taking in the soothing sights and fresh smells, as well as the simple act of walking, does wonder for stress relief.

Another way to reduce stress or manage stress is by taking a regular supplement of valerian root. Not only will this herb help you reduce your stress levels and sleep more deeply, but it can also help you to react more peacefully to stressful triggers. Taking a regular dose of valerian root will help you manage your blood pressure as well as your reactions to stressful situations throughout the day.

4- Help to Reduce Hot Flashes

During menopause, women suffer from a wide range of uncomfortable symptoms. One of those symptoms is hot flashes. A hot flash is simply a sudden feeling over your entire body of heat. This can cause sweating, dizziness, or even fainting. Hot flashes can last anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours. In some more serious cases, women have even been hospitalized due to severe hot flashes and other side effects of menopause.

Valerian root has been proven effective in helping to reduce the frequency and the severity of hot flashes. While Valerian root does not interact directly with hormone levels, the herb is still somehow effective in managing this symptom that is caused by hormonal fluctuations. It is suggested that any women suffering from hot flashes due to menopause take at least 200 mg of Valerian root, three times a day to help manage their condition safely.

5- Helps The Mental Focus of Those With ADHD

When it comes to children many things are normal. Having daydreams during school hours, behaving rashly, and also becoming fidgety during mealtimes is typical child behavior for most age ranges regardless of background. These also tend to resemble the signs of ADHD.  Hyperactivity, inattention, and impulsivity can often lead to issues in the child’s home as well as in their classroom.

Valerian root is known to boost the levels of GABA in the brain, which can reduce obsessive behavior, calm restlessness, and ease anxiety. These are common symptoms of ADHD, and while most parents prefer not to medicate, they will try an herbal alternative. Even in children who do not have ADHD, lemon balm and Valerian root have been used as an effective way to help calm restlessness and improve mental focus. This herb is a great alternative for parents who want to avoid placing their child on a prescription medication regimen.

6- Can Reduce Menstrual Cramps

Menstrual cramps are a common occurrence in women of all ages. Some suffer from debilitating pain while others may only feel mild discomfort. For many years, over-the-counter pain medicines were always an immediate solution to female related pain. However, regular use of pain-relieving medicines can have serious negative effects on the liver. As a result, pain medications are taken only in cases where immediate relief is needed.

There are many home remedies that can help ease uterine crampings such as a hot water bottle, or even certain yoga stretches. Another highly effective treatment for uterine cramping and dysmenorrhea is Valerian root. This helpful herb can be taken on a daily basis to stave off cramps before they start or to reduce the severity of the cramps once they have already begun. There are no side effects associated with taking Valerian root for menstrual cramps making it a perfect choice.

7- Lessen The Physical Stress of Cancer and HIV Treatment

When your body is unwell, it adds stress to your whole system. When you take valerian root, it helps to reduce the effects of stress on your body. This allows you to better combat the rigors of cancer or HIV treatment. When our brains are properly fueled, it works faster and more efficiently, this leads to clarity and increased productivity in our daily activities. Most people who are undergoing cancer or HIV treatments often suffer from poor sleep and insomnia.

Those who don’t have sleep troubles often report chronic fatigue as a side effect of their treatments. Valerian root has been proven to help reduce the feelings of fatigue in those undergoing certain medical treatments. In many cases, the wellbeing of those taking the herb also improved thanks to the relaxing effects valerian root has on the brain and the body. This herb doesn’t interact with either Cancer or HIV medications.

8- Cognitive Function & Memory

Memory loss is a very serious complication of the central nervous system. It can be the result of Alzheimer’s or dementia. Medical scientists have long thought that poor oral hygiene may be a factor in addition to it being a hereditary disease. They recently confirmed this by linking bacterial buildups in oral plaque and tartar to brain disease. The bacteria in the oral cavity can enter the bloodstream or nervous system through lesions, cuts, or skin openings in the oral cavity.

If it gets to the brain it promotes the growth of such diseases. This causes increased memory loss in the patient. There have also been reports of cognitive decline following certain surgeries, including heart surgery. Taking valerenic acid as a supplement can help reduce oxidative stress in the area of the brain that controls memory. In addition, valerenic acid can improve oral health and reduce inflammation, thus inhibiting memory loss.

9- Improve fertility and Fetal Health

The research on this is in its formative stages. However, we have confirmation from scientific studies that high levels of stress paired with certain compounds in the brain can inhibit fertility and the ability to conceive. There is mounting evidence that these complications can lead to low birth weights, preeclampsia, premature delivery, and even increased likelihood of miscarriage.

While scientists are as yet to figure out why this is the case, it is clear that proper levels of certain compounds paired with low-stress levels are now a factor for a baby’s wellbeing. Valerian root can help reduce the damage caused by oxidative stress in the body. This damage compounds when a person is subjected to a regular level of high stress or when they suffer from chronic stress. This herb can be taken as a tea or as a supplement along with regular prenatal vitamins. There are no side effects.

10- Digestive Problems

Everyone has experienced problems with their digestion at some point in their life. Most stomach ailments resolve on their own or with the help of an over the counter medication. Many countries have used Valerian root as a home remedy for stomach cramps and other digestive problems for centuries. Valerian root has the ability to reduce muscle spasms in the body, including the stomach. Many people who have problems with constipation or poor digestion have found relief by taking a regular regimen of Valerian root, Valerian tea, or Valerian extract.

One study even proved that Valerian oil was successful in reducing contractions of the small intestine. While easing cramps can provide comfort, reducing cramps can also help to treat diarrhea in many people. The root helps to reduce the cramping and thus reduces the constant urge to run to the toilet. Make sure to speak to your doctor when using Valerian to treat diarrhea.

11- Treating Water-Based Diarrhea

Most commonly, microbes and bacteria which may be present in unpurified water can cause vomiting and diarrhea. This can cause you do become even more dehydrated since you will lose large amounts of fluid. These harmful organisms are impossible to see with the naked eye and may include E. Coli and Salmonella, as well as Amoebae and Giardia which are usually present in a water supply that has been contaminated with feces. 

Dehydration can cause bodily weakness which may compromise your ability to find or prepare water to replenish that which you have lost, and dehydration in the long-run will induce hallucinations, alter your lucidity, and can ultimately result in a slow, painful organ failure which leads to death. Valerian root can help calm spasms in the gut and is also an effective way to reduce inflammation of the gut. The root is also known to contain antimicrobial properties that can help restore the healthy balance to the flora in your gut.

12- Ease Restless Leg Syndrome

Restless leg syndrome is an affliction that a large percentage of the population must contend with. With RLS a person may feel restless, have tingling sensations that crawl up and down their legs, or may even shake their legs so often they are unable to fall asleep. While there is no definite cause of Restless leg syndrome, its effects are highly noticeable. There are several prescription medications that exist to help manage the condition, however, many of the side effects are worse than the condition on its own.

For people who are seeking relief from Restless leg syndrome but prefer to avoid heavy medications, Valerian may help. Valerian root has been proven to significantly reduce daytime sleepiness and help ease the symptoms associated with Restless leg syndrome. It is important to let your doctor know if you are taking herbal supplements for RLS before they prescribe other complementary medications.

13- Versatile Herb For Coughing Spasms

Spasmodic coughing can be caused by allergies, a medical condition, or they can simply be random body reflexes. While an occasional cough without cause is not a reason to be disturbed, there are times when it can become a chronic problem. Repetitive spasmodic coughing is often caused by a spasm in certain muscles of the lung or throat. They can also plague people who have just gotten over a seasonal illness but have a lingering, non-productive cough.

Instead of taking medication, repetitive spasmodic coughing can be controlled with a supplement of valerian root. Many people have their repetitive spasmodic coughing triggered by laying down, or in some cases simply taking a deep breath can trigger a repetitive spasmodic coughing fit. Drinking a tea made from valerian root will relax the muscles that cause the cough and encourage sleep at the same time. A cup of valerian tea is often effective for up to 4 hours.

14- Fibromyalgia

People who are afflicted with fibromyalgia often will have to contend with memory problems, frequent mood swings, chronic fatigue, and even chronic pain as a part of their regular life.  Fibromyalgia is sadly a debilitating condition that results in long term body pain, muscular aches, poor sleep, and points of tenderness over their whole body. Women suffer from this condition more often than men, but in both cases, there are ways to manage the symptoms.

Valerian root in the form of a bath is an effective way to help those suffering from the ailment find periodic relief. Taking a bath in the herb at least three times weekly will help to improve sleep habits and reduce that pain caused by the ailment. Over time, the root bath will significantly improve a person’s wellbeing and mental outlook. People who suffer from sciatica have also found relief by bathing in valerian on a routine basis.

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