Valerian Herb - Treat hypertension, insomnia and other sleep disorders

Common name for Valerian Herb: Valerian or Valeriana officinalis is also popularly known as amantilla, garden valerian, baldrian, Jacob's ladder, phu, blessed herb, capon's tail, all-heal, heliotrope, and herba benedicta among others.

Occurrences : The Valerian herb is native to Europe and Asia but currently grows in almost all parts of the world. Valeriana officinalis today is cultivated in North America, Europe, and Japan.

Parts used of Plant: The rhizomes, roots, and essential oil of the valerian herb is mostly used for herbal preparations. However the most common use of the herb is the dried root that is utilized to prepare medicines meant for ingestion.

Medicinal uses

During the Middle Ages, the root of the valerian herb was revered not only as a medicinal drug but also as a pungent aromatic substance for flavoring food, and in some cases even as a perfume. Today, valerian offers effective cover against insomnia and other sleep disorders, and is one of the safest alternatives to conventional drugs in treating sleep conditions. However, research and medical experts warn of valerian side effects resulting from excessive use of the herb in treating insomnia for a long period of time. When used to treat sleeping abnormalities, impatience and anxiousness, and as a muscle relaxant, valerian imparts its effects almost immediately. Herbalists also use valerian for treating gastrointestinal disorders and irritable bowel syndrome. However, in the absence of long term medical research, valerian must be taken only after consultation with a medical expert. For a number of years, valerian was used effectively as a sedative. Although some herbalists use the herb to treat epilepsy it is not yet supported by research for long term use. However, some medical research plays a heavy emphasis on valproic acid - an important constituent in valerian - as an anticonvulsant drug and mood-stabilizing agent. An increasing number of medical studies and experiments are demonstrating the efficacy of valerian as a sleeping aid, particularly when used along with St. John's wort or lemon balm. In contrast to most medicinal sleeping drugs, valerian does not bring about notions of stupor upon waking or lead to a chemical habituation. In a particular medical study valerian assisted participants in falling asleep faster, and positively altered the quality of their sleep. The tranquilizing effect of the valerian herb on the central nervous system may help in bring down muscle spasms and avoid the recurrence of convulsions. Recent studies conducted on animals reveal that valerian is also used in lowering hypertension and suppressing the growth of tumors.

Administered as:

Preparations of the valerian herb are usually administered as dietary supplements. The preparations made from valerian roots, rhizomes and stems are used as teas or tinctures. The dried plant materials and extracts of the valerian herb are also administered as capsules and tablets.