The valerian , whose scientific name is Valeriana officinalis , is a herb belonging to the family Caprofoliaceae , within which are also found honeysuckle and other ornamental species. Previously, valerian was classified among the Valerianaceae, but today it is located among the caprofoliaceae.Valerian is a perennial plant whose height reaches 2 meters, although it is generally a plant less than 1 meter. Its leaves are opposite and pinnate . Its stem, hollow inside, has a length of 1 meter or more. The flowers of Valerian are small and white, pale pink or pink; they appear in small clusters similar to the flowers of agérato, called corymbs .The roots are large with rhizomes, and when they are dry they give off a musty smell similar to that of the feet. This smell is said to attract cats, which is why valerian is also called the ” cat plant .” It should not be confused with catnip or Nepeta cataria .

What is valerian good for?

In traditional medicine, valerian is used to help calm patients with problems of anxiety, depression and, above all, with insomnia . Currently it is also used by conventional medicine to help smokers and nervous patients with heart arrhythmias and stomach spasms. However, its scope is even greater.

It serves to:

  • Comply with regulatory functions
  • Treat insomnia, nervousness, and anxiety
  • Manage cases of hysteria, schizophrenia, and irritability
  • Treat cases of cardiac arrhythmias, strokes, and spasms
  • Control seizures, epilepsy, and schizophrenia
  • Sedative effects
  • Hypnotic, calming and relaxing effects

Comply with regulatory functions

Valerian acts as a regulator and controller of discomforts. It is responsible for treating:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Stomach spasms
  • Hysteria
  • Restlessness
  • Cardiac arrhythmias
  • Period pains
  • premenstrual syndrome
  • Uterine discomfort
  • Irritability
  • Colic
  • Shock Pain
  • Migraine
  • Intestinal inflammation
  • Neurosis
  • Exhaustion
  • Stress
  • Threw up
  • Hyperactivity
  • Schizophrenia
  • Tos

Treat insomnia, nervousness, and anxiety

Valerian has been used for relaxing effects

Valerian has traditionally been used to treat nervous diseases and disorders . Scientific studies have shown that it does indeed have real active ingredients. Therefore, it is administered in the form of pills , to treat insomnia and sleep problems, without side effects such as headaches, the next day.

Valerian has the advantage that it is not as addicting as other drugs . In many places the use of herbal teas or infusions with the parts of this plant is preferred, as its effect is more direct.

Manage cases of hysteria, schizophrenia, and irritability

In ancient times, valerian was used to calm people with attacks of hysteria, irritability or suffering from schizophrenia, because being sedative and mild hypnotic helps to calm these discomforts a bit.

In recent times, stronger medications and sedatives are used for these problems, but valerian is still recommended in certain patients. It has fewer side effects than other treatments and is easier to control.

Treat cases of cardiac arrhythmias, strokes, and spasms

Valerian has antispasmodic and muscle relaxant properties , which is why it is used to reduce pain in cases of bumps and spasms, such as menstrual and stomach cramps. In addition, it is used to apply on some skin lesions, so poultices infused with this plant are used.

Being an antispasmodic plant, it helps to calm discomfort caused by contractions of the smooth muscles , which is why it has been used since ancient times as a treatment for uterine problems such as menstrual cramps, except during pregnancy, as it is contraindicated at this stage.

Control seizures, epilepsy, and schizophrenia

For many years, valerian has been applied as part of the treatment for seizures and epilepsy; however, it is now known that this plant can worsen these conditions , especially if used in conjunction with medication for these diseases. Therefore, it is now advisable to avoid it in these patients.

In the case of schizophrenia, only certain patients can be administered, but without interrupting the pharmacological treatment, since it does not cure this disease, but rather alleviates psychotic episodes, anxiety and some manifestations of a seizure type. The patient should be followed up by a physician.

Sedative effects

Valerian has many substances with medicinal values, among which the valepotriates stand out , plant resinous compounds with sedative properties that change chemically when dried, which gives the characteristic odor to the essential oil of this plant.

Valepotriates are present 80% as dihydrovaltrato, 15% as valtrato and 5% as acevaltrato. All these substances have mild sedative effects, and act at the level of the central nervous system, more specifically in the area called reticular formation and in the neurovegetative nervous system , which are the regions of the brain responsible for regulating the states of sleep and wakefulness.

This occurs without affecting the lymphatic system or the structure of the cerebral cortex, so they do not affect as much as other drugs.

Hypnotic, calming and relaxing effects

The effect of valerian in the body is hypnotic, calming and relaxing , so the herbalists and the pharmaceutical industry have resorted to it to cure various conditions of nervous origin, especially insomnia, anxiety and concentration problems due to nervousness.

However, the inappropriate or prolonged consumption of valerian can cause the same symptoms of anxiety, nervousness, depression, insomnia, dysmenorrhea, among others.

History of valerian

Valerian helps calm patients with epilepsy, depression and insomnia

Valerian is native to Europe and some parts of Asia . Today it can be found in the humid forests of North America and in most greenhouses. In ancient Greece it was already used in the times of Hippocrates and Galen, who applied it as a medicinal plant.

The name of this plant, “valerian”, comes from the Latin valere , which translates as “health” or “well-being”, as it was believed that it had tranquilizing and anxiolytic properties, which is why it was used to control nervous disorders.

Contraindications of valerian

The various preparations of valerian should be avoided in people such as:

  • Patients with epilepsy
  • Patients who are taking anticonvulsant medications
  • Pregnant women
  • Heavy machinery operators, who need to be fully awake for a long period of time
  • Patients with liver problems
  • Patients with a history of heart problems

Side effects of valerian

Well applied valerian is a safe plant and generally very high doses are required to cause severe damage. However, prolonged or careless use can cause side effects such as:

  • Addiction in certain patients
  • Gastrointestinal disorders
  • Irritability
  • Interference with anticonvulsant medications
  • Toxicity in people with liver problems
  • Heart problems

Part of these alterations usually disappear when the use of valerian is discontinued.

This article is informational in nature and is not a substitute for professional medical opinion. Consult a doctor.

Samantha Robson
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Dr. Samantha Robson ( CRN: 0510146-5) is a nutritionist and website content reviewer related to her area of ​​expertise. With a postgraduate degree in Nutrition from The University of Arizona, she is a specialist in Sports Nutrition from Oxford University and is also a member of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.

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