Valerian Root is the root of a perennial plant which produces beautiful sweet smelling white or purple flowers and the name “Valere” in Latin means to be in peak health. Valerian is indigenous to parts of Asia, South Africa and Europe and since has been introduced to most countries around the globe. It is an exceptionally pungent smelling plant when dried due to the isovaleric acid the root produces.
Dating back to the ancient Romans and Greeks this valuable medicinal plant was used as a folk medicine for various illnesses such as urinary tract infections, nausea and vomiting, severe headaches, heart conditions, insomnia and liver disorders. Valerian is known to have a sedative effect and is used widely to treat patients suffering from insomnia as well as a muscle relaxant as the effects of valerian reduce tension and irritability.
In Germany mothers used Valerian as a coffee substitute and as a condiment during medieval times and a tea made for children thought to be misbehaved at that time but in today’s times we would term this behaviour as ADHD. This medicinal herb is also used for conditions such as nervousness, epilepsy and hysteria. The herb also contains diuretic properties.
Researchers have found no consensus as to what the active valerian constituents in valerian root are. The result of valerian activity may be due to a combination of compounds. Researchers have established that valerian increases the GABA by increasing its production in the body or may even decrease the GABA absorption and/ar break down the GABA. There is inconclusive evidence of the effectiveness of valerian.
Valerian root can be purchased in most pharmacies as well as health outlets around the globe and can be bought directly over the counter as well as online. Valerian can now be obtained in capsule or tablet form as a dietary supplement. The preparation method is easy all you do is add 1 teaspoon of valerian root to a cup of boiling water. Allow the tea to cool off and then strain and drink.
Valerian Root – Side Effects
Herbal medicine like any other medication needs to be taken with caution as all medications have side effects. If valerian is being used for insomnia it should not be combined with other medications such as sedatives or benzodiazepines like Temazepam, Zopiclone, Lorazepam or Phenargan. Valerian should not be taken by children nor expectant ( pregnant) and nursing mothers. The side effects may include itchiness, drowsiness, dizziness, headaches, dry mouth or an upset stomach.
There have been reported cases where valerian root has been associated with liver damage but has not been proven. Should you experience any pain or discomfort on the right side of the abdomen accompanied by nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and intense itching, you are advised to stop the medication and contact your doctor immediately. Always consult a professional before using valerian root and should you be suffering from any liver disease avoid taking this herb.
Contra Indications of Valerian Root
Valerian root should under no circumstances be taken with other medications such as antifungal agents, allergy medications, cholesterol medications or chemotherapy medications as valerian is broken down by enzymes in the liver and could interfere with these other types of medications.