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Valeriana officinalis

Valerian's primary traditional use has been as a sedative for the relief of insomnia, anxiety, and conditions associated with pain. Specific conditions for which it was used include migraine, insomnia, hysteria, fatigue, intestinal cramps, and other nervous conditions.


For insomnia, some doctors suggest 300-500 mg standardized extract (or up to 2g of non- standardized) of valerian root herbal 30 to 60 minutes before bedtime. No restriction on long term use.

Potential applications

Improves sleep latency (time required to get to sleep), sleep quality, reduces periods of wakefulness, increases slow-wave sleep (consolidates non REM sleep); reduces anxiety; relaxes smooth muscle (antispasmodic/anti-convulsant) e.g. intestinal tract. The herb has also been shown to lower blood pressure, enhances the flow of bile (choleretic), and has having anti-tumour and anti-biotic activity.

Known contraindications

None known. No adverse effects on ability to drive and operate machinery.


Useful in alleviating symptoms of benzodiazepine withdrawal. Valerian may increase the effects of CNS depressants or alcohol when taken together. Valerian in combination with St. Johns Wort has been shown to be as effective as the drugs amitryptyline and more effective than diazepam, with few side effects. This combination has been suggested as a suitable alternative to kava kava for anxiety states.

Use in conjunction with

  • INSOMNIA - Ca/Mg/Zn, B complex, Rhodiola or St. John's Wort


If morning sleepiness occurs, reduce the dosage. If the initial dosage is ineffective, eliminate those factors that disrupt sleep, such as caffeine and alcohol, before considering a dose increase.


© Cheryl Thallon at Viridian

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