5 Benefits Of Valerian Root You Never Knew About

It’s estimated that 70 million Americans suffer from a sleep disorder. Insomnia, the most common sleep disorder affects 30% of adults, with around 10% experiencing chronic symptoms. Valerian root is widely used as an effective sleep aid, improving the quality of sleep and sleep duration. Yet some studies remain inconclusive. We’re going to talk about the health benefits and side effects of valerian root, along with the proper dosage guidelines, using evidence-based research.

What Is Valerian Root

Valerian, also known as Valeriana officinalis, is a flowering plant native to Europe and Asia. The use of Valerian root dates back 1,000 years to the ancient Roman and Greek empires. Hippocrates noted that Valerian could treat nervousness, headaches, and even heart palpitations.   

How Does Valerian Root Work

Although the exact mechanisms aren’t clear, researchers believe that valerian root naturally increases levels of the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter, blocking signals such as fear, and anxiety experienced from excitatory neurons, contributing to a calming effect in the body.

Health Benefits of Valerian Root

1. Sleep Aid

One of the best-known health benefits of valerian root is its function as a sleep aid. A systematic review published in the American Journal Of Medicine, investigating the effects of valerian root on sleep quality and sleep duration, identified a total of 370 articles, 16 of those being randomized controlled trials, examining 1093 patients. The most commonly reported outcome reported that the use of valerian root was found to nearly double sleep latency and sleep quality as compared to placebo groups. But, despite the reported outcomes, the study design was sub-standard, not well measured, and the methodology varied considerably.

2. Anxiety 

Some evidence suggests that valerian root may provide a health benefit to patients with anxiety. Valerenic acid is thought to have a direct influence on receptors which enhances GABA transmission and serotonin, but without the pronounced sedative effects. Prescription benzodiazepines “benzos” like Valium, Xanax, and Klonopin, work to calm or sedate a person, by raising the level of the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA in the brain. Researchers suggest that valerian may be a potential alternative to benzos for anxiety. 

A systematic review conducted by Harvard Medical School found two different studies that explored the stress-reducing effects of valerian root. Both studies concluded that valerian root may reduce stress levels in healthy patients [R, R] Another study combined valerian root with St. John’s Wort, and put it head-to-head against diazepam in 100 patients with anxiety. After two weeks of randomized treatment, the combined valerian and SJW group reported superior relief of anxiety symptoms [R].

Despite the inconclusive evidence on the efficacy of Valerian, researchers still suggest that Valerian Root appears to be a promising candidate for anxiety and insomnia.

3. Hot Flashes

Valerian root is also thought to provide health benefits to women, during menopause by reducing hot flashes. Hot flashes are among the biggest complaints of menopausal women, affecting their careers, social activities, and quality of life.

A 2013 study involving 68 menopausal women, reported that symptoms and severity were significantly reduced when given a 255mg dosage of valerian root capsules 3 times a day for 8 weeks as compared to placebo. Thus valerian root could be an effective alternative to hormone therapy for women open to alternative treatment options [R

4. Headaches 

Historically, valerian root was believed to have an impact on headaches. Tension-type headaches are the most common and frequently reported type of headaches amongst the general population. It can cause mild, to intense pain behind the eyes, head, and or neck. 2 out of every 3 adults in America experience some type of tension headache, affecting a large majority of the population.

A study investigating the effects of Valerian on tension-type headaches conducted a double-blind, randomized controlled trial. Researchers administered 530mg of valerian or placebo to 88 patients for a period of 6 months.

After only one month of treatment, the severity and impact of headaches amongst the intervention group was significantly reduced, as well as disability scores [R]. 

5. Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD)

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by the core symptoms of hyperactivity, inattentiveness, and impulsivity, and is currently regarded as the most common neuropsychiatric disorder among children [R]. 

One of the many mechanisms of valerian is increasing GABA levels in the brain. GABA deficiency has been linked to restlessness, anxiety, and obsessive behavior, all symptoms often seen in ADHD. 

In a double-blind placebo-controlled study, 30 children aged (5-11) were given a tincture of valerian root three times per day, for two weeks. Results showed improvement in ADHD symptoms, in particular, sustained inattention and impulsivity and/or hyperactivity [R].

Valerian Root Dosage: How Much Should You Take

According to clinical research, the recommended valerian root dosage for sleep is 300 to 600 milligrams 30 minutes before sleep. For anxiety, the best valerian root dosage is 120 to 200 milligrams three times per day.

Side Effects of Valerian Root

The potential side effects of valerian root supplementation include lucid or vivid dreams. While the majority of participants did not experience any side effects, 16% experienced vivid dreams during the valerian treatment. Heart palpitations or fluttering has also been reported as a possible side effect. Other possible side effects of valerian root include dry mouth, upset stomach, and headaches. If you experience any of these possible side effects consult your physician. When adding a new supplement to your daily routine, it is important to consult a physician or healthcare provider, to identify the best actions regarding your supplement protocol.

Health Benefits And Side Effects of Valerian Root: Takeaway

Although more in-depth research is needed to confirm the mechanisms and potential therapeutic effects of valerian root for sleep and anxiety, researchers suggest that valerian root does show promising effects as a potential option for better sleep and reduced anxiety and stress. 

Looking for the best sleep supplement to help you get better quality sleep.

Swolverine's ZMT contains GABA, Theanine, Melatonin, Valerian Root, Tryptophan, Rhodiola, Ashwagandha, Zinc, and Magnesium glycinate to help you get the best sleep you've ever had!


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Bent, Stephen et al. “Valerian for sleep: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” The American journal of medicine vol. 119,12 (2006): 1005-12. doi:10.1016/j.amjmed.2006.02.026 

Baek JH, Nierenberg AA, Kinrys G. Clinical applications of herbal medicines for anxiety and insomnia; targeting patients with bipolar disorder. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry. 2014;48(8):705-715. doi:10.1177/0004867414539198

Kohnen, R, Oswald, WD (1988) The effects of valerian, propranolol, and their combination on activation, performance, and mood of healthy volunteers under social stress conditions. Pharmacopsychiatry 21: 447–448.

Panijel, M (1985) Therapy of symptoms of anxiety. Therapiewoche 41: 4659–4668.

Azizi H, Shojaii A, Hashem-Dabaghian F, Noras M, Boroumand A, Ebadolahzadeh Haghani B, Ghods R. Effects of Valeriana officinalis (Valerian) on tension-type headache: A randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind clinical trial. Avicenna J Phytomed. 2020 May-Jun;10(3):297-304. PMID: 32523884; PMCID: PMC7256276.

Mirabi P, Mojab F. The effects of valerian root on hot flashes in menopausal women. Iran J Pharm Res. 2013 Winter;12(1):217-22. PMID: 24250592; PMCID: PMC3813196.

Razlog R., Pellow J., White S. J. A pilot study on the efficacy of Valeriana officinalis mother tincture and Valeriana officinalis 3X in the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Health SA Gesondheid2012;17(1):1–7. doi: 10.4102/hsag.v17i1.603. [CrossRef] [] [Ref list]


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