Valerian Root For Sleep
You may have heard valerian root being mentioned in connection to sleep, or seen it labeled as one of the ingredients on a sleeping aid. This herb has been used for eons, not only for treating sleeping disorders, but also for high blood pressure.
What is Valerian Root?
This herb became popular for its medicinal value in Europe in the 17the century. Chief among its uses is the treatment of insomnia and hypertension. This colorful plant is native to Europe and a few parts of Asia, and only now being introduced to parts of North America. Only the root of the plant is used for medicinal purposes.
Manufacturers of drugs avail the herbal treatment in the form of juices from the roots or in powder form.
How Does Valerian Root Treat Insomnia?
As a sedative, this herb is combined with lemon balm and hops to create an even stronger treatment. Studies have been contradictory as to its effectiveness, but the majority has shown it to work, albeit after a few weeks of use.
Due to its gentle quality, Valerian is said to work as a placebo for the first 14 days of consumption, and the peaks its performance at 28 days. This finding does not apply to everyone, as a few isolated cases find it to work immediately. When combined with the mentioned herbs (which have sedative properties of their own), it works even faster and more effectively.
How it works? Well, as we noted, the studies are inconclusive, but researchers believe that the herb influences the release of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), a chemical that regulates nerve cells and calms the brain. Valerian extracts also contain GABA, but it is not known whether it crosses the brain-blood barrier to make it to the nerves.
One of the characteristics of valerian root (as seen on those who consume it) is drowsiness. The brain loses focus and the usual sharpness so that you can finally rest. Being a natural sedative, you can use it continually without any serious effects, but you have to be keen.
Interactions With Other Drugs
Since it is a sedative, it may not work very well with antidepressants. If you are already on some, you should let your doctor know because it can increase the sedative effect associated with antidepressants and have you feeling worse for using it.
Again, the sedative effect in it can be made worse when combined with other sleep-inducing drugs. You may want to get off your current sleeping aid before you can use valerian.
This herb has no strict dosage unless it is combined with other herbs. For this reason, it is not recommended for children under three years or pregnant women. The effect it would have on an unborn baby is unknown, but who wants to take the risk? it is safer to keep them off anything that might be too strong.
Natural or not, you do not want to get your system used to any type of medication. Valerian root may not have severe side effects, (except a bit of a headache and dizziness), but still, you do not want to be dependent on it.