Valerian Monograph

Scientific name of Valerian:
Valeriana officinalis

Action of Valerian:
Non-addictive natural sedative; supports healthy neurotransmitter balance

Valerian is used for these common wellness concerns:
Occasional nervousness, nervous tension and anxiety; mild to moderate mood swings or depressed mood caused by everyday stress; occasional sleep difficulty

Find Valerian in these Clarocet blends:

An Overview of Valerian

Valerian is a tall perennial herb whose name comes from the Latin word meaning “wellbeing.” Traditionally, Valerian has been prescribed as a natural sedative that works to relax the central nervous system in moderate doses and promotes healthy sleep function when administered in higher doses.

In modern research studies, the active components of Valerian have been shown to provide positive support for:

  • Occasional nervousness, nervous tension and anxiety
  • Depressed mood and mild to moderate mood changes caused by everyday stress
  • Restlessness and occasional sleep difficulty

Valerian has been clinically shown to promote relaxation, emotional balance and sleep wellness within one to 30 days of continued use.

Science and Pharmacology of Valerian

Scientists have isolated over 150 phytochemical components from the rootstock of Valerian since the early 1900s. There are at least 2 primary compounds as well as other amino acid constituents that are thought to exhibit a sedative effect in the central nervous system. Among these constituents are:

  • Valerenic Acids
  • Valepotriates
  • GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid)
  • Tyrosine
  • Arginine
  • Glutamine

Pharmacological research suggests that together, these components naturally inhibit enzyme-induced GABA breakdown in the brain, although the precise mechanism of action has yet to be defined. In human clinical trials Valerian has been shown to relieve occasional nervousness, nervous tension and anxiety in moderate doses. Higher doses of Valerian are often used to promote healthy sleep function.

Further analysis indicates that Valerian can also help to support positive mood balance. Research has demonstrated that neither single nor repeated evening administrations of Valerian have a negative impact on reaction time, alertness or concentration the day after use.

Valerian Safety and Usage

Valerian maintains an excellent safety profile when it is used as directed. A dose of 150 to 200 milligrams is recommended for the relief of occasional nervousness, nervous tension and anxiety. In cases of occasional sleep difficulty, a higher dose of 300 to 600 milligrams is recommended. When taken in combination with other natural sedatives, a lower dose of 150 to 200 milligrams of Valerian is sufficient.

What are the potential side effects of Valerian?

Side effects are rare and have been documented as mild to moderate in clinical study. They may include headache, gastrointestinal discomfort, drowsiness, dizziness or sleep difficulty. In the event that you experience an adverse reaction, discontinue use of this herb. Valerian does not cause withdrawal or discontinuation effects.

Is Valerian safe for children?

Clinical study data regarding Valerian use in children is limited. Valerian should not be administered without the supervision of a professional healthcare provider.

Does Valerian adversely interact with prescription drugs?

Taking Valerian in combination with prescription medications such as benzodiazepines, SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), or SNRIs (serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors) may cause drowsiness. If you are taking a prescription medication, it is recommended that you consult with your prescribing doctor before making any changes or additions to your current treatment plan.

What precautions should I take before beginning Valerian?

Consult with your healthcare provider before beginning a wellness plan that includes dietary supplements like Valerian

  • Do not take Valerian if you are pregnant or nursing
  • Do not take Valerian if you are currently taking a prescription MAOI
  • Do not operate vehicles or heavy machinery until you know how Valerian affects you

Valerian Clinical Studies

Clinical References and Resources

1. Dietary Supplements and Natural Products as Psychotherapeutic Agents
Adriane Fugh-Berman, MD and Jerry M. Cott, PhD
From the Department of Health Care Sciences (A.F.-B.), George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Washington, DC; and Adult Psychopharmacology Program (J.M.C.), National Institute of Mental Health, Rockville, MD.
Psychosomatic Medicine 61:712-728 (1999) [Read the Full Text ]

Clinical Trials and Laboratory Tests

1. Double blind study of a valerian preparation.
Lindahl O, Lindwall L.
Foellinge Health Center, Sweden.
Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 1989 Apr;32(4):1065-6. PMID: 2678162 [Read the Abstract]

2. The effects of valerian, propranolol, and their combination on activation, performance, and mood of healthy volunteers under social stress conditions.
Kohnen R, Oswald WD.
Psychology Department II, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, FRG.
Pharmacopsychiatry. 1988 Nov;21(6):447-8. PMID: 3244789 [Read the Abstract]

3. Effect of valepotriates (valerian extract) in generalized anxiety disorder: a randomized placebo-controlled pilot study.
Andreatini R, Sartori VA, Seabra ML, Leite JR.
Departamento de Farmacologia, Brazil
Phytother Res. 2002 Nov;16(7):650-4. PMID: 12410546 [Read the Abstract]

4. Critical evaluation of the effect of valerian extract on sleep structure and sleep quality.
Donath F, Quispe S, Diefenbach K, Maurer A, Fietze I, Roots I.
Institute of Clinical Pharmacology, Charite University Medical Center, Germany
Pharmacopsychiatry. 2000 Mar;33(2):47-53. PMID: 10761819  [Read the Abstract]

5. Effect of a fixed valerian-Hop extract combination (Ze 91019) on sleep polygraphy in patients with non-organic insomnia: a pilot study.
Fussel A, Wolf A, Brattstrom A.
Zeller AG, Switzerland.
Eur J Med Res. 2000 Sep 18;5(9):385-90. PMID: 11003973 [Read the Abstract]

6. Pharmacodynamic effects of valerian and hops extract combination (Ze 91019) on the quantitative-topographical EEG in healthy volunteers.
Vonderheid-Guth B, Todorova A, Brattstrom A, Dimpfel W.
Pro Science Private Research Clinic GmbH, Germany.
Eur J Med Res. 2000 Apr 19;5(4):139-44. PMID: 10799347 [Read the Abstract]

7. Aqueous extract of valerian root (Valeriana officinalis L.) improves sleep quality in man.
Leathwood PD, Chauffard F, Heck E, Munoz-Box R.
Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 1982 Jul;17(1):65-71. PMID: 7122669 [Read the Abstract]

8. Comparative study for assessing quality of life of patients with exogenous sleep disorders (temporary sleep onset and sleep interruption disorders) treated with a hops-valarian preparation and a benzodiazepine drug
Schmitz M, Jackel M.
Institut fur Psychosomatik, Austria
Wien Med Wochenschr. 1998;148(13):291-8. PMID: 9757514 [Read the Abstract]

9. Effect of kava and valerian on human physiological and psychological responses to mental stress assessed under laboratory conditions.
Cropley M, Cave Z, Ellis J, Middleton RW.
Department of Psychology, School of Human Sciences, University of Surrey,UK.
Phytother Res. 2002 Feb;16(1):23-7. PMID: 11807960 [Read the Abstract]

10. Stress-induced insomnia treated with kava and valerian: singly and in combination.
Wheatley D.
Psychopharmacology Research Group, UK.
Hum Psychopharmacol. 2001 Jun;16(4):353-356. PMID: 12404572 [Read the Abstract]

11. Effect of valerian, Valeriana edulis, on sleep difficulties in children with intellectual deficits: randomised trial.
Francis AJ, Dempster RJ.
Department of Psychology and Disability Studies, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University,Australia.
Phytomedicine. 2002 May;9(4):273-9. PMID: 12120807 [Read the Abstract]

12. Effect of kava and valerian on human physiological and psychological responses to mental stress assessed under laboratory conditions.
Cropley M, Cave Z, Ellis J, Middleton RW.
Phytother Res 2002;16:23-7. PMID: 11807960 [Read the Abstract]

13. The influence of valerian treatment on "reaction time, alertness and concentration" in volunteers.
Kuhlmann J, Berger W, Podzuweit H, Schmidt U.
Lichtwer Pharma AG, Berlin, Germany.
Pharmacopsychiatry. 1999 Nov;32(6):235-41. PMID: 10599933 [Read the Abstract]

14. Synaptosomal GABA release as influenced by valerian root extract--involvement of the GABA carrier.
Santos MS, Ferreira F, Cunha AP, Carvalho AP, Ribeiro CF, Macedo T.
Department of Zoology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Coimbra, Portugal.
Arch Int Pharmacodyn Ther. 1994 Mar-Apr;327(2):220-31. PMID: 7979830 [Read the Abstract]

15. The scientific basis for the reputed activity of Valerian.
Houghton PJ.
Department of Pharmacy, King's College London.
J Pharm Pharmacol. 1999 May;51(5):505-12. PMID: 10411208 [Read the Abstract]

16. Rational phytotherapy: a physician's guide to herbal medicine.
Schulz V, Hänsel R, Tyler VE.
Berlin: Springer, 1998:81. [View the Book At Amazon]

17. Can valerian improve the sleep of insomniacs after benzodiazepine withdrawal?
Poyares DR, Guilleminault C, Ohayon MM, Tufik S.
Sleep Laboratory of the Department of Psychobiology, Brazil.
Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2002 Apr;26(3):539-45. PMID: 11999905 [Read the Abstract]

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Last Updated: February 2015 [PHMF-03-0]