What are valerian’s health benefits?
Valerian is a plant found in Europe, some parts of Asia, and North America. Oil from its roots is used for medicine and sold in capsules as a dietary supplement.
Valerian is mainly known for its sedative and anti-anxiety effects, but may also aid in the management of the following conditions:
- As a sleep aid, valerian is often used instead of sleeping pills due to its milder sedative properties
- Depression, when taken with St John’s Wort
- Stress-related conditions such as high blood pressure (hypertension)
- Anxiety disorders
- To relieve menstrual pain
Recommended dietary allowance (RDA)
In order to assist in the management of insomnia, valerian can be taken orally in the following dosages:
- Take between 400 to 900mg of valerian extract up to two hours before going to bed for a period of up to 28 days
- Or simply take valerian between half an hour to two hours before bed
However, first discuss recommended dosages with your Clicks pharmacist.
Taken in high doses, and at night, valerian may make you feel sluggish the morning after. In order to avoid the side effects of taking high doses of valerian, care should be taken to gradually lower dosages for a couple of weeks before stopping completely.
Women should rather avoid use of valerian while pregnant or breastfeeding.
Valerian acts as a central nervous system depressant, so it’s advised not to use it with other depressants like opiates, barbiturates, opiates, antihistamines, and benzodiazepines.
Taken with large amounts of alcohol, valerian may cause excessive drowsiness and sleepiness.
Withdrawal symptoms after long-term use may be similar to that of benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms, and may result in heart complications and possibly dementia.
When used in combination with scutellaria (a traditional Chinese medicine), valerian has been associated with liver damage.
Possible side effects
Valerian is generally safe to consume in small amounts over short periods of time, however, some people may experience side effects such as:
Ensure you discuss dietary supplementation with your Clicks pharmacist to avoid the potential for side effects and adverse interactions with medications.