Posted on Hello Wellness on Nov 4 2010 9:47AM
Once used in ancient Sweden by bridegrooms to ward off the envy of the elves and in Greece to cure digestive disorders, the valerian root (Tagara) is now a popular ingredient in many drugstore sleep remedies.
People use valerian to relieve anxiety, depression, and poor sleep, and also to ease menstrual and stomach cramps. Valerian has a mild calming effect that does not usually result in sleepiness the next day.
Cure for insomnia
Valerian was first prescribed as cure for insomnia by prominent Roman physician Galen of Pergamon (129–199 AD). Since then, it has been widely believed to improve the quality of sleep and reduce the time needed to fall asleep, especially when taken nightly for four to six weeks.
n spite of studies finding valerian ineffective as an alternative for benzodiazepines, valerian is used for sleeping disorders, restlessness and anxiety, and as a muscle relaxant. Valerian often seems only to work when taken over longer periods (several weeks), though many users find that it takes effect immediately.
Valerian does NOT interfere with sleep cycles or with restful REM sleep.
How is it used?
Valerian is sold as a dietary supplement and is available as an extract in powder or liquid form, as a dried herb in tea form, or in pills. As a sleep aid, it is most effective if you take it shortly before bedtime. People often use valerian in combination with other herbs, including St John's wort, passionflower, lemon balm, kava, and hops.
How much should you take?
The dosage of valerian may vary from one person to another depending on the condition being treated as well as the patient’s response to the therapy. A number of people take 300 mg to 500 mg of valerian root extracts in the form of tablets or capsules an hour before going to bed to treat insomnia or sleep disorders.
Is it safe?
Side-effects from valerian are rare but can include mild headache or stomach upset, abnormal heartbeats, and insomnia. Because of its calming effect, you should not take it at the same time as other calming medicines or antidepressants (or do so only under medical supervision). You also should not take valerian if you will be driving or need to be alert. It is not recommended for women who are pregnant or breast-feeding. Consult with your doctor before trying a valerian product.