Valerian herb for insomnia – a natural root for sleep problems and to help you relax, how well does it work? Are there better sleep alternatives?
February 15 2016
Valerian herb is used in the traditional medicine of many cultures as a mild sedative and to aid the induction of sleep. It is a native plant both of Europe and North America. V. officinalis is the species most commonly used in northern Europe and still retains its official pharmacopoeial status although it is most commonly encountered as an ingredient of herbal medicines. Valerian herb, by itself, is not consistent in inducing or maintaining sleep. The considerable variation in its composition and content as well as the instability of some of its constituents pose problems for standardization but the range of components which contribute to its overall activity suggest that it may correct a variety of underlying causes of conditions which necessitate a general tranquilizing effect. Many people do not find it helpful for sleep but prefer the more effective product Good Night Rx which has a combination of hops herb, melatonin, kava root extract, ashwagandha and other sedative nutrients and herbs.
Valerian Herb Root Extract
Amount Per Capsule
Valerian herb root – 300 mg
(Valeriana officinalis, powdered extract)
Valerenic acid (0.8%) 2.4 mg
Good Night Rx is made for better sleep. One capsule is taken 2 to 4 hours before bed on an empty stomach provides a deeper and more restful sleep.
What’s in valerian root and how does it work?
The major constituents include sesquterpenoids, valepotriates, bornyl acetate and valerenic acid. Multiple compounds in valerian root have pharmacologic activity. Valerenic acid has been shown to inhibit enzyme-induced breakdown and the inhibition of reuptake of the inhibitory neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain resulting in sedation.
Anxiety and stress relief
Valerian may be beneficial to health by reducing physiological reactivity during stressful situations and can be helpful in reducing anxiety.
Valerian has been tested many times for effectiveness in treating insomnia. Some studies have shown that valerian is helpful, while others do not show valerian to be effective. The jury is still out as to whether valerian is a good hypnotic.
Q. I have tried tribulus herb for a week and I also tried tongkat ali supplement for a week and they made me have trouble sleeping. I tried to take valerian in the evening but it did not counteract the insomnia from these herbs.
A. High dosages of certain herbs that have a stimulating nature can cause insomnia and valerian root is too weak to counteract these alertness causing herbs.
I have two products: Valerian root supplement and graviola supplement. I take both at night before bedtime. Is there any drug interaction here, that might have side effects?
We have not seen any studies with this combination so we can’t say for sure. It is best to try each separately for a few days, and when combining to take half the amount of each or several hours apart. The capsules can be opened by pulling on each side. Or, better yet, it may be a good idea to alternate their use.
Availability over the counter without a prescription
Valerian plant is available as tea or as a supplement. You can find valerian plant extract added to anti anxiety herbal preparations or herbal products for sleep such as Good Night Rx natural herbal formula.
Daytime use for anxiety
Is taking Valerian Root extract during the working day to feel less nervous and more relaxed advised? for example at work?
Whenever any herb or medicine that has sedative potential is taken during the day, the dose should be minimal so as not to interfere with optimal performance. In fact, trying it on a weekend when not working and while at home is a good option initially to determine what dose has a positive effect on relieving stress and at what dose the effects become too sedating.
Use in pregnancy
I have a question. I’m 2 months pregnant, and have bad morning sickness. I went on a website called morning sickness dot com. They recommend Vital Herbal pills, which help subsides, morning sickness. To me they did false advertisement, now they are telling me, they don’t recommend it for pregnant women, when they have it advertised for morning sickness. The herbal pills have VALERIAN AND LICORICE in them, will it effect my unborn baby?
A. We have not seen good research in pregnancy with valerian to determine whether it is a safe herb to use for this purpose during pregnancy. Ginger has been tested for morning sickness. High dose, daily licorice may not be a good idea during pregnancy due to possible preterm birth.
Q. This is not a study on valerian, just me and 2 other people that have RLS, Restless Leg Syndrome. I have been troubled with it for 15 years. When I sit down to relax is when it becomes a problem. Valerian is the only natural thing I have found that works. I take no other medications. I know of no research on the effectiveness of valerian on restless legs syndrome. I thought this might be of some interest to you.
A. Thanks for letting us know, it is very interesting, what is the valerian dosage, which product, and how many hours before bed you take it, and how many days did it take to work?
Q. In talking with the few people that use Valerian as I do for restless legs syndrome I found we were using it the same way. If the problem started we could take 2 to 3 capsules, 150 mgs each and the problem would go away in about 30 to 45 minutes. If I felt the problem before bedtime I would take 2 to 3 capsules 45 minutes to 1 hour before bed. valerian is not used as a daily thing, only if the restless legs syndrome was problematic. When at work and I was sitting it would cause problems also. I did the same, 2 to 3 capsules and it went away in about 30 to 45 minutes. I would try other things to make it go away also so I didn’t have the use the Valerian, getting up and walking it off worked but was not useful if you were trying to go to sleep, but at work it was ok. Then if the RLS returned I would use the Valerian. I would take hot shower and take the Valerian if it woke me up from sleep. I am a light sleeper so it was easy for the symptoms from restless legs syndrome to wake me.
Summary and review
Although some studies indicate that valerian has a sleep inducing effect, other studies don’t support this finding. My personal experience leads us to believe that valerian is inconsistent and cannot be relied on as a sleep aid. There is more evidence to support the use of valerian in the therapy of mild anxiety or stress.
It true that valerian herb has a bad smell?
Yes, it has a bad smell but it is not noticed much when taken as a capsule.
Q. Is valerian herb effective in liquid form?
A. It depends on the company, but some valerian herb products in liquid form are effective.
Q. Is there vitamin K in valerian herb root. Is there anything in valerian herb that would interact badly or interfere with Coumadin?
A. here is no vitamin k in valerian herb root. Valerian herb root has not been tested in combination with Coumadin so we do not know the consequences of the combination.