alerian is a flowering perennial that is native to Europe and has been naturalized in North America. It grows up to two meters high with sweet smelling white and pink flowers that bloom in June. The roots have a pungent odor and are therefore often combined with hops, lemon balm or skullcap to mask the scent. It is sold as a dietary supplement in capsule, tablet, powder or tincture form. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) lists valerian as “Generally Recognized as Safe”.
Valerian has been used to produce relaxation and sleep for centuries. It’s most frequent use today is as an herbal alternative to prescription medications for sleep problems. Although considered to be safe and gentle, it is recommended that a health provider or pharmacist be consulted for dosage and length of use, especially if you are taking other medications or are pregnant or nursing. Consulting a physician is a must if you have diabetes, liver disease or alcohol dependence.
Valerian can be taken as a tea, tincture, fluid extract or dry powdered extract, generally between 30 minutes and two hours before bedtime. As an herb, it has fewer side effects than prescription sleeping pills. Since Valerian makes you drowsy, you should not drive or use machinery or do any activity that requires alertness for several hours after taking it.
Valerian can also be found in products like Elimidrol which mixes together multiple herbs, vitamins, and amino acids to address occasional anxiety, restlessness, lack of energy, and depressed moods, in addition to trouble sleeping.
The University of Maryland Medical Center http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/valerian examined 27 articles reporting and reviewing studies on Valerian. They cited one of the best designed studies that found no difference between Valerian and a placebo on sleep for 14 days. However, this study found that by 28 days, Valerian greatly improved sleep. These results suggest that it takes time for this herb to be assimilated and have an effect.
Other studies have also shown the positive effect of Valerian in improving the quality of sleep and reducing the time it takes to fall asleep. However, there are some studies that showed no effect of Valerian on sleep.
There is some claim of Valerian being helpful for anxiety because of its relaxing properties.
Valerian Root is a viable option to consider as an alternative treatment if you suffer from occasional difficulty in sleeping.