valerian treatment, randomized clinical trials


Since the second century A.D., valerian has been used to treat sleeplessness, anxiety, and restlessness. It rose in popularity in Europe during the 17th century. Valerian has also been tested for treating stomach cramps. According to some research, valerian may help people with insomnia sleep better. Germany’s Commission E gave valerian a green light as a mild sedative, and the United States Food and Drug Administration classified it as “Generally Recognized As Safe” (GRAS).

Scientists are uncertain how valerian works, but they believe it boosts the amount of a chemical called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. GABA is a chemical that helps control nerve cells and has a soothing effect on anxiety. Drugs such as alprazolam (Xanax) and diazepam (Valium) function by increasing the amount of GABA in the brain. Researchers think that valerian has a similar, but lesser, impact than these drugs do.

What is valerian?

Valerian (Valeriana officinalis), a European and Asian native plant that has been naturalized in North America, is a perennial shrub with a unique odor that many find unpleasant. Other names include setwall (English), Valerianae radix (Latin), Baldrianwurzel (German), and phu (Greek). The genus Valerian includes over 250 species, but V. officinalis is the species most often used in the United States and Europe, as well as being the sole species addressed in this fact sheet.


Valerian contains sesquiterpenes of the volatile oil (including valeric acid), iridoids (valepotriates), alkaloids, Furano Furano lignans, and free amino acids such as γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and tyrosine. Although the sesquiterpene components of the volatile oil are thought to be responsible for most of the valerian’s biologic effects, it is likely that all of the valerian’s active ingredients act together in a synergistic manner to produce a therapeutic response. Individual components have been shown to have sedative effects (valepotriates, valeric acid) and interactions with neurotransmitters such as GABA (valeric acid and unknown fractions).

How does valerian work?

Valerian contains numerous chemical components that have been identified, but it is unknown which ones are responsible for its sleep-promoting effects in animals and in vitro studies. It’s possible that there isn’t a single active ingredient, and valerian’s benefits are the result of many components working independently or together.

The primary source of valerian sedative effects has been attributed to two types of components. The first group consists of the main chemicals in its volatile oil, particularly valeric acid and its derivatives, which have shown sedative effects in animal studies. However, valerian extracts with only minor amounts of these components also have sedative effects, suggesting that other components or several compounds contribute to them. The iridoids are a group of compounds known as valepotriates. Valepotriates and their derivatives are sedatives in live animal testing but are unpalatable and decompose when kept in water or exposed to moist conditions, making it hard to evaluate their efficacy.

A valerian extract’s effect on sleep may be linked to the fact that it increases the amount of GABA available in the synaptic cleft. According to an in vitro study with synaptosomes, a valerian extract may release GABA from brain nerve endings and then prevent it from being absorbed by nerve cells. Valerian also has a long history of use as a relaxant. valerenic acid inhibits an enzyme that degrades GABA, and valerian extracts have enough GABA in them to produce a relaxing effect, although whether GABA can get across the blood-brain barrier and contribute to valerian’s sedative effects is unknown. Glutamine is present in both water-based and alcohol extracts but not in spirit extracts, which suggests it may be transformed into GABA. The quantities present in these compounds vary considerably depending on when the plants are picked, causing significant variation in valerian pills.

What Is valerian root used for?

Valerian root has been used as a natural anxiolytic and sedative by alternative medicine practitioners for thousands of years. Valerian root is consumed in extract, tincture, or pill form to help with anxiety, sleeplessness, headaches, digestive issues, menopausal symptoms, and post-exercise muscle soreness and fatigue. The evidence supporting these claims is often conflicting.

Valerian root has a variety of health applications, including the following:


Valerian root is sometimes referred to as a safe and natural substitute for prescription anxiety medications, especially those that target the GABA receptor, such as Valium (diazepam), Klonopin (clonazepam), Valerian, Ativan (lorazepam).

There is some evidence, albeit very little, to back up these assertions. Valerenic acid appears to activate GABA receptors in a way that improves transmission while keeping the sedative effects of a medication like Valium at bay. This may be useful for those undergoing therapy for anxiety or other mood disorders.

Valerian was designated as “most promising” for treating anxiety associated with bipolar disorder in a 2015 Harvard Medical School analysis of 12 conventional herbs (including hops, Gotu kola, and ginkgo).

Hot flashes

Valerian root may help reduce hot flashes that women experience during menopause. Because valerian doesn’t appear to directly impact hormone levels, the mechanism of action is unknown.


Valerian is a safe and non-invasive therapy for sleep disorders that are widely used in natural medicine. It has been found to be both effective and safe, making it an attractive alternative to prescription medicines for sleeplessness. According to some research, it makes people fall asleep faster and has a higher quality of sleep.

Valerian was ineffective for 14 days in one study, but it greatly improved sleep for those who took it for 28 days. Some researchers now believe that valerian may need to be taken for a few weeks before it begins to work. However, according to another research, valerian was more effective than placebo almost immediately.

Valerian extract has been shown to reduce the time it takes to fall asleep and enhance sleep quality in several studies. Valerian differs from many prescription sleeping pills in that it is less likely to cause side effects, such as grogginess in the morning.

However, not every study has shown that valerian provided benefits. According to one study of several research, valerian does not appear to aid in the treatment of sleeplessness. As a result, the evidence is conflicting.

Valerian is often used with sedative herbs such as hops (Humulus lupulus) and lemon balm (Melissa officianalis) to treat sleeplessness. A combination of valerian and lemon balm helped reduce the severity of insomnia in postmenopausal women in one study.

Pharmacologic treatment

sleep structure, sleep disturbances

Valerian is an herbal substance obtained from one of more than 150 species in the Valeriana genus that thrive in temperate regions of North America, Europe, and Asia.116 Valerian Officinalis L. is the most commonly used medicinal plant among these plants. It is thought that this drug has been utilized for therapeutic purposes for over a thousand years. Because valerian’s active components are unknown, it is impossible to determine its pharmacokinetics or metabolism. The most common dosages of valerian used in insomnia treatment studies are 400 to 900 mg/day.

Because the dosages of active components in valerian studied are unclear, the evidence for effectiveness in placebo-controlled studies of insomnia therapy with valerian must be reviewed only in broad terms. Whereas a handful of research has found a therapeutic impact on sleep, the majority of placebo-controlled trials testing the treatment of insomnia with valerian extracts have failed to reveal any effect over placebo.117-120 It is now apparent that the efficacy of valerian in treating sleeplessness is unproven.

Valerian extracts have been found to have a few negative side effects. The majority of studies revealed comparable rates of adverse effects between valerian and placebo groups. There is no evidence for significant abuse potential, and daily sedation appears to be rare.

Given the lack of knowledge about valerian treatments’ effectiveness, restricting the clinical use of this therapy to those who are specifically interested in using an herbal therapy for insomnia makes sense. Four cases of hepatitis have been linked to valerian use in combination with skullcap.116 The role played by valerian in causing hepatitis is uncertain, however, it is advised that caution be exercised when combining valerian with skullcap and managing individuals with liver disease.

What are common valerian preparations?

Valerian is available in capsules, tablets, liquid extracts, and dried root form. Liquid valerian preparations are often standardized to contain a certain percentage of valerenic acids. The most common dosage forms for treating insomnia are 400-900 mg/day of the extract in tablet or capsule form.

Who should not take valerian?

  • Women who are pregnant or nursing should avoid using valerian without consulting a doctor because the possible hazards to the fetus or newborn have not been researched.
  • The FDA has not assessed the safety of valerian for children under three years old, therefore it is advised that toddlers younger than this age avoid taking it.
  • Individuals taking valerian should be aware that, theoretically, alcoholic or sedative medications like barbiturates and benzodiazepines might cause additive drowsiness.
  • Valepotriates, which are components of valerian but are not always present in commercial preparations, had cytotoxic activity in vitro and were not carcinogenic in animal studies.

Can valerian be harmful?

For clinical trial participants, there have been a few adverse events linked to valerian. The most frequent effects reported in clinical studies include headaches, dizziness, itching, and gastrointestinal difficulties. An increase in drowsiness was observed in one study after subjects took 900 mg of valerian on an empty stomach. According to researchers from another research, 600 mg of valerian (LI 156) did not have a clinically significant effect on reaction time, alertness, or concentration in the morning after ingestion. Several adverse effects were reported in case reports, but it’s impossible to attribute the symptoms to valerian in one instance where suicide was attempted with a large overdose.

Potential side effects of valerian root

Valerian root is one of the most popular natural sleep aids on the market.

It’s been used to enhance sleep issues, anxiety, menopausal agony, and relaxation for thousands of years. It’s taken as a capsule, liquid extract, or tea medicinally for hundreds of years.

Valerian root is a natural sedative that has been used in Chinese and European medicine for centuries. It grows in many countries, including the United States, where it is also known as baneberry.

Valerian root is the most promising herbal medicine for sleep and sleeplessness, according to one study of 11 natural medicines.

Despite this, there is a lot of conflicting evidence on its effectiveness. Furthermore, some persons report negative effects that appear to differ significantly from one person to the next.

Vivid dreams

Vivid dreams are one of the most frequently reported adverse effects of valerian root.

Another study looked at the adverse effects of valerian and kava, a plant used to treat sleeplessness. Researchers gave 24 persons 4 ounces (120 mg) of kava twice daily for 6 weeks, followed by a 2-week break, then 20 ounces (600 mg) of valerian twice daily for 6 weeks.

16% of people taking valerian reported having vivid dreams, while the majority (85%) did not.

Because it contains essential oil and iridoid glycosides, valerian might lead to vivid dreaming. These chemicals activate opioid receptors and boost serotonin production in the brain, resulting in a soothing and anti-depressive impact.

Valerian, according to several experts, may help to increase the brain chemical gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which has a soothing effect on your body.

Overall, these sedative effects might assist people in achieving better sleep habits, which may result in vivid dreams.

This is why valerian root is not often advised for individuals who experience distressing dreams, since it might induce bad dreams.

Heart palpitations

Palpitations are racing or fluttering heartbeat.

A heart palpitation is a kind of abnormal heart rhythm that can be frightening if you’re not used to them. Stress, medicine, exercise, or a medical problem may all cause rapid heartbeats.

Valerian root has been used to treat heart palpitations for at least a century and a half, according to historical records.

Some individuals, ironically, have had heart palpitations as a side effect of using or stopping valerian root. However, these anecdotal reports are not based on study data.

So, in order to assess the effects of ephedrine, human trials are required.

Dry mouth and upset stomach

Valerian root can cause mild to severe mouth and digestive effects, depending on the amount taken.

Some users claim an increase in bowel activity after taking it. Valerian has been used for millennia in Europe to treat constipation.

Even so, these laxative effects may cause unpleasant symptoms such as diarrhea or upset stomach.

According to a 28-day study of 391 people who received various herbs for sleep management, 18% of those who took valerian root had an increase in diarrhea, as opposed to just 8% of the patients in the placebo group.

However, many people report experiencing dry mouth after taking valerian root. Although this has not been extensively researched, several other individuals have reported developing dry mouth after consuming it.

Headaches and mental fogginess

Some people, on the other hand, report an increase in headaches and mental fog when using valerian root.

The majority of these adverse effects are linked to long-term or high-dose usage of this shrub. Nonetheless, symptoms can include not only more headaches but also other neurological problems such as agitation and restlessness.

People have also reported being more sluggish in the morning after consuming valerian root, especially if they received a larger dose.

If you are suffering from any of the following symptoms, you may want to decrease your dose.

Keep in mind that these adverse effects are based on personal experience. As a result, additional well-controlled scientific research is required.


Valerian root is a herbal sleep aid that has been used for centuries to treat various ailments, including sleeplessness.

The majority of clinical studies have found no effect over placebo in treating insomnia with valerian extracts. There are very few unwanted effects reported from using valerian and it does not appear to be addictive or sedating when taken long term.

In general, the evidence is insufficient to recommend for or against use of valerian as treatment for insomnia; however, it might be appropriate for individuals seeking a natural alternative remedy as an initial treatment option.

Also Freqnse Question

Is valerian good for sleep?

Some people find that valerian helps them sleep, while others do not. The amount of valerian used and the length of time it is taken may affect how well it works for an individual. Some research suggests that taking 900 mg of valerian on an empty stomach might increase drowsiness.

What is valerian used for?

Valerian is a perennial plant in the Valeriana officinalis family. It has been used for centuries to treat various ailments, including insomnia and anxiety. The valerenic acid found in valerian may be responsible for its sedative effects on the body.

What are valepotriates?

Valepotriates are components of valerian that have cytotoxic activity though they do not appear to cause cancer in animals. These compounds are produced by chemical treatment of pure extracts; even then, it’s uncertain whether or not they’re present in commercial preparations of valerian because there is no quality standardization among products with regards to these constituents.. Most commercial formulations will probably contain little if any traces of valepotriates.

Is Valerian Addictive?

Valerian does not appear to be addictive or sedating when taken long-term. However, it can cause drowsiness and may interact with other medications that have a sedative effect on the body (such as barbiturates). Therefore, it is important for people who take valerian to consult their doctor before using any additional medications that could increase this side effect.. Valerenic acid contained in some formulations has been shown in animal studies where they were injected directly into brain tissue at high doses: these effects indicate potential addiction liability but are not relevant when considering oral ingestion of plant extracts.

Is valerian root good for anxiety?

Some people find that valerian helps them reduce anxiety, while others do not. The amount of valerian used and the length of time it is taken may affect how well it works for an individual. Some research suggests that taking 900 mg of valerian on an empty stomach might increase drowsiness.

What are the side effects of Valerian?

The most frequent effects reported in clinical studies include headaches, dizziness, itching, and gastrointestinal difficulties. An increase in drowsiness was observed in one study after subjects took 900 mg of valerian on an empty stomach. According to researchers from another research, 600 mg of valerian (LI 156) did not have a clinically significant effect on reaction time, alertness or cognitive function in healthy volunte potential addiction liability but are not relevant when considering oral ingestion of plant extracts.

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