Valerian is an herb. Medicine is made from the root.
Valerian is most commonly used for sleep disorders, especially the inability to sleep (insomnia). It is frequently combined with hops, lemon balm, or other herbs that also cause drowsiness. Some people who are trying to withdraw from the use of “sleeping pills” use valerian to help them sleep after they have tapered the dose of the sleeping pill. There is some scientific evidence that valerian works for sleep disorders, although not all studies are positive.
Valerian is also used for conditions connected to anxiety and psychological stress including nervous asthma, hysterical states, excitability, fear of illness (hypochondria), headaches, migraine, and stomach upset.
Some people use valerian for depression, mild tremors, epilepsy, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).
Valerian is used for muscle and joint pain. Some women use valerian for menstrual cramps and symptoms associated with menopause, including hot flashes and anxiety.
Sometimes, valerian is added to bath water to help with restlessness and sleep disorders.
In manufacturing, the extracts and oil made from valerian are used as flavoring in foods and beverages.
How it works
Valerian seems to act like a sedative on the brain and nervous system.
Possibly EffectiveInability to sleep (insomnia)
Some research suggests that valerian does not relieve insomnia as fast as “sleeping pills.” Continuous use for several days, even up to four weeks, may be needed before an effect is noticeable. Valerian seems to improve the sleep quality of people who are withdrawing from the use of sleeping pills. Not all evidence is positive, however. Some studies have found that valerian doesn't improve insomnia any better than a “sugar pill” (placebo).
Valerian is LIKELY SAFE for most people when used in medicinal amounts short-term. Clinical studies have reported safe use of valerian for medicinal purposes in over 12,000 people in trials lasting up to 28 days. The safety of long-term use is unknown. Some information suggests that valerian might also be safe when taken by children for 4-8 weeks.Valerian can cause some side effects such as headache, excitability, uneasiness, and even insomnia in some people. A few people feel sluggish in the morning after taking valerian, especially at higher doses. It's best not to drive or operate dangerous machinery after taking valerian. The long-term safety of valerian is unknown. To avoid possible side effects when discontinuing valerian after long-term use, it's best to reduce the dose slowly over a week or two before stopping completely.
Pregnancy or breast-feeding: There isn't enough information about the safety of valerian duringpregnancyorbreast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.Are there any interactions with medications?
Surgery: Valerian slows down the central nervous system. Anesthesia and other medications used during surgery also affect the central nervous system. The combined effects might be harmful. Stop taking valerian at least two weeks before a scheduled surgery.
Alcohol can cause sleepiness and drowsiness. Valerian might also cause sleepiness and drowsiness. Taking large amounts of valerian along with alcohol might cause too much sleepiness. However, some research has found that combining valerian with alcohol does not increase sleepiness.
Valerian can decrease how quickly the liver breaks down alprazolam (Xanax). Taking valerian with alprazolam (Xanax) might increase the effects and side effects of alprazolam (Xanax) such as drowsiness.
MinorMedications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 2D6 (CYP2D6) substrates)
Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Valerian might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Taking valerian along with some medications that are broken down by the liver can increase the effects and side effects of some medications. Before taking valerian, talk to your healthcare provider if you are taking any medications that are changed by the liver.Some medications changed by the liver include lovastatin (Mevacor), ketoconazole (Nizoral), itraconazole (Sporanox), fexofenadine (Allegra), triazolam (Halcion), and many others.Valerian might cause sleepiness and drowsiness. Drugs that cause sleepiness and drowsiness are called sedatives. Taking valerian along with sedative medications might cause too much sleepiness.Some of these sedative medications include alprazolam (Xanax), clonazepam (Klonopin), diazepam (Valium), lorazepam (Ativan), midazolam (Versed), temazepam (Restoril), triazolam (Halcion), and others.Valerian might cause sleepiness and drowsiness. Medications that cause sleepiness are called sedatives. Taking valerian along with sedative medications might cause too much sleepiness. Taking valerian along with sedative medications used in surgery might cause prolonged sedation.Some sedative medications include pentobarbital (Nembutal), phenobarbital (Luminal), secobarbital (Seconal), thiopental (Pentothal), fentanyl (Duragesic, Sublimaze), morphine, propofol (Diprivan), and others.Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Valerian might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Taking valerian along with some medications that are broken down by the liver can increase the effects and side effects of some medications. Before taking valerian, talk to your healthcare provider if you are taking any medications that are changed by the liver.Some medications changed by the liver include amitriptyline (Elavil), clozapine (Clozaril), codeine, desipramine (Norpramin), donepezil (Aricept), fentanyl (Duragesic), flecainide (Tambocor), fluoxetine (Prozac), meperidine (Demerol), methadone (Dolophine), metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol XL), olanzapine (Zyprexa), ondansetron (Zofran), tramadol (Ultram), trazodone (Desyrel), and others.