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February 20, 2024

Valerian Root For A Great Nights Sleep!

a group of bottles of oil next to a bowl of roots

Valerian Root For A Great Nights Sleep!

What Is Insomnia?

Insomnia is a common sleep disorder that can make it hard to fall asleep, hard to stay asleep, or cause you to wake up too early and not be able to get back to sleep. You may still feel tired when you wake up. Insomnia can sap not only your energy level and mood but also your health, work performance and quality of life.

How much sleep is enough varies from person to person, but most adults need seven to eight hours a night. At some point, many adults experience short-term (acute) insomnia, which lasts for days or weeks. It’s usually the result of stress or a traumatic event.

But some people have long-term (chronic) insomnia that lasts for a month or more. Insomnia may be the primary problem, or it may be associated with other medical conditions or medications.

Could This Flower Hold The Key?

Valerian is a popular alternative to prescription medications for sleep problems because it is considered to be both safe and gentle. Some studies show that it helps people fall asleep faster and feel that they have a better quality of sleep.

One of the best designed studies found that Valerian was no more effective than placebo for 14 days, but by 28 days Valerian greatly improved sleep for those who were taking it. Some researchers now think you may need to take Valerian for a few weeks before it begins to work. However, in another study, Valerian was more effective than placebo almost immediately.

Other studies show that Valerian reduces the time it takes to fall asleep and improves the quality of sleep. Unlike many prescription sleeping pills, Valerian may have fewer side effects, such as morning drowsiness.

But not every study has found that Valerian had a positive effect. One review of several studies found that Valerian probably doesn’t work to treat insomnia. So the evidence remains contradictory.

Valerian is often combined with other sedating herbs, such as hops (Humulus lupulus) and lemon balm (Melissa officianalis), to treat insomnia. In one study of postmenopausal women, a combination of Valerian and lemon balm helped reduce symptoms of insomnia.

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The use of herbs is a time-honored approach to strengthening the body and treating disease. However, herbs can trigger side effects, and can interact with other herbs, supplements, or medications. For these reasons, you should take herbs with care, under the supervision of a health care provider.

Valerian is generally regarded as safe. Most studies show no harmful effects on fertility or fetal development, but more research is needed. Experts advise pregnant and nursing women to avoid taking Valerian.

Some people may have a paradoxical reaction to Valerian, feeling anxious and restless after taking it instead of calm and sleepy.

For most people, Valerian does not appear to cause dependency. Nor does it cause withdrawal symptoms for most. But there are a few reports of withdrawal symptoms when Valerian has been used over very long periods of time. If you want to stop taking Valerian, lower your dose gradually rather than stopping all at once.

Don’t use Valerian while driving, operating heavy machinery, or doing other things that require you to be alert.

Don’t use Valerian for longer than 1 month without your health care provider’s approval.

Possible Interactions

If you are currently being treated with any of the following medications, you should not use Valerian without talking to your health care provider.

Medications Broken Down By The Liver

Valerian may slow down how quickly certain drugs are broken down by the liver. Many medications rely on the liver to break them down, so it’s possible that in some cases, too much of these drugs could build up in the body. To be safe, ask your doctor before taking valerian if you are also taking any other medications.

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Valerian can increase the effect of drugs, including:

  • Anticonvulsants, such as phenytoin (Dilantin) and valproic acid (Depakote)
  • Barbiturates
  • Benzodiazepines, such as alprazolam (Xanax) and diazepam (Valium)
  • Drugs to treat insomnia, such as zolpidem (Ambien), zaleplon (Sonata), eszopiclone (Lunesta), and ramelteon (Rozerem)
  • Tricyclic antidepressants, such as amitriptyline (Elavil)
  • Alcohol

The same is true of other herbs with a sedating effect, such as chamomile, lemon balm, and catnip.

Other Drugs You Should Know About

Because Valerian is broken down by certain liver enzymes, it may interact with other drugs that are broken down by the same enzymes. These may include many different medications, including but not limited to the following:

  • Antihistamines
  • Statins, taken for high cholesterol
  • Some antifungal drugs


Valerian may increase the effects of anesthesia. If you are having surgery, it is important to tell your doctors, especially your surgeon and anesthesiologist, that you are taking Valerian. The doctors may recommend you slowly lower the dose of Valerian before surgery.

Or, they may allow you to use Valerian up to the time of surgery, making any needed adjustments to the anesthesia.

Final Thought

Although many alternatives to medication can be harmless there are those exceptions. If you are thinking of using alternative solutions to insomnia please consult your healthcare provider.

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