What is Valerian Root?

L. Hepfer

Valerian root, from the Latin name Valeriana officinalis, is a flowering perennial plant with pink and white flowers exhibiting a sweet aroma. Some of its common names are English valerian, Vermont valerian, German valerian, great wild valerian, and vandal root. Valerian root has been used for its medicinal properties for many years.

Valerian root can help heal pimples.
Valerian root can help heal pimples.

Valerian root has been widely used in preventing insomnia. Its quiet and soothing effects help a person sleep. Although a person can experience this effect immediately after using valerian root the first time, it is common that a person use it for a few weeks before experiencing the full effect of the herb.

Valerian root is sometimes used to help with sleep.
Valerian root is sometimes used to help with sleep.

This herb has been used in alleviating anxiety and treating people that experience hysteria. It is known to promote menstruation in women when ingested as a hot tea and is often times used as a pain reliever. Valerian root has been used to treat migraines.

Valerian root may be used to prevent or treat insomnia.
Valerian root may be used to prevent or treat insomnia.

Valerian has been helpful in comforting colicky babies, in lowering fevers and has been used in breaking up colds. It has aided in the healing of stomach ulcers and has been helpful in preventing gas. When taken as a tea internally at the same time as applying it externally to the skin, it has helped heal sores and pimples.

Valerian root can be grown in an herb garden at one's home, purchased in a nutritional store or ordered online from a reputable company. When purchasing herbs, it is important to remember that the herb be standardized so one is sure to get a purer herb product. This should be advertised on the outside of the package and easy to see.

The use of valerian root must be considered carefully. The amount taken internally can result in poisoning if the herb is taken over a period of time in larger amounts. Valerian root has been known for its adverse effect on different prescription medications. Consultation with a physician should always be considered when mixing any herb with prescription medications.

Valerian root is available on the market in capsule form, teas, and tinctures. While a person is generally going to have the same desired effect by taking valerian root in any form, it is good to remember that capsules must be digested by the stomach in order for the valerian to be released into the body. Liquids, such as teas and tinctures, are absorbed by the bloodstream immediately after ingestion and have a quicker effect on the body.

Valerian root can be grown at home or purchased as a dried herb.
Valerian root can be grown at home or purchased as a dried herb.

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Discussion Comments


I've read that valerian contains lead. Is it in the root naturally or just in the compounded products? Also, does valerian root extract or valerian tea contain lead? I'm looking for a dose for a 10 year old. Any help is appreciated.


I have had problems falling asleep for several months. A friend of mine suggested I try Valerian root. I started it about two weeks ago and it actually does work. Valerian root is also high in calcium and even has a calming effect.

The thing that I do not like about Valerian root is the smell. When you open the bottle, a horrible odor seeps out.

In the past, Valerian root was believed to be a mild aphrodisiac.

I have also found that when I buy Valerian root, it is cheaper to purchase it online.

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