KWD: 14/557 = 2.51%
Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) is a tall pinkish herb with flowers. This herb has been used for centuries as herbal medicine for insomniacs. This mild sedative is currently popular as a sleeping aid and in countering anxiety especially in Germany, France, Belgium, and the United Kingdom. Recently, it has gained immense following in the United States also. This plant grows in North America, Europe and Asia. The underground stems and roots are gathered and dried to make the medicinal preparations.
Valerian has several health benefits:
* It improves sleep. It can bind receptors in the brain for a nerve chemical called GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). It blocks some nerve impulses to reach the brain thereby shortening the amount of time it takes to sleep and improve the quality of sleep. Unlike prescription drugs, it is not addictive and does not cause grogginess.
* It reduces nervous tension, anxiety and restlessness. German authorities recommend valerian for sleeping disorders that stem from nervous conditions. It can do this by blocking brain receptors for the neurotransmitter GABA. It also stops nerve impulses and stress messages from reaching the brain.
* It lessens stomach cramps and enhances digestive system conditions due to its antispasmodic characteristics.
Valerian is sold in the following formulations: tincture, tablet, softgel, liquid, dried herb/tea and capsule. To get the most out of valerian products, refer to the following special tips:
Ø A free-dried extract is the most effective form of valerian herb.
Ø Valerian can be availed of as a single supplement or combined with other herbs and supplements.
To treat insomnia, take 1 teaspoon of liquid extract diluted in water. Alternatively, take 400-450 mg capsule of standardized extract or a free-dried whole herb 30 to 45 minutes before bed. You can safely increase the dose to 2 teaspoons of liquid extract or up to 1,350 mg of standardized extract/free-dried herb depending on need. Higher dosage does not mean higher benefits.
To treat anxiety, take 400-450 mg or 1 teaspoon liquid extract, twice daily. Take 800-1,350 mg before bedtime.
To treat muscle pains, take 400-450 mg or ½ teaspoon liquid extract and increase it to 800-1,350 mg or 1-2 teaspoons liquid extract before bed.
To treat digestive problems because of anxiety, take 400-450 mg or ½ teaspoon of liquid extract two or three times daily and increase it to 800-1,350 mg or 1-2 teaspoons of liquid extract before bed.
If the odor of the valerian herb bothers you, take the capsule form. Add water to the liquid extract and add honey or sugar to make it tastier. In choosing standardized product, make sure that it contains 0.8% of valeric acid. Valerian also works best if used alternatively with other sleep-inducing herbs such as chamomile, hops, passionflower or Melissa. If you use it at daytime, take low dose about 400 mg once a day then find out if it makes you feel drowsy. Increase the intake to two or three times a day of 400-450 mg once you feel used to the herb’s effect.
To avoid drowsiness and negative interactions, don’t take valerian with muscle relaxants, narcotic pain relievers, prescription sleep medications, tranquilizers or drugs that cause drowsiness. Taking large doses of valerian may cause dizziness, restlessness, blurry vision, nausea, excitability and grogginess upon waking. Do not take it nightly for two consecutive weeks to prevent dependency on valerian.