Valerian root benefits have different effects, depending on the living being it acts on: animals or humans. While serving as a potent stimulant for animals, it has notable sedative effects on human beings. Thus, cats become euphoric when they smell the plant, joyfully rubbing against it. The aroma of the valerian, which becomes more potent when the plant is dry, does not have any particular attraction for humans since it resembles the smell of foot sweat. It is a matter of preference.
Valerian root has been employed in therapeutic science since the Renaissance when its property to prevent epileptic attacks was discovered.
Valerian Root Benefits and Healing Properties
The roots of Valerian have around one percent of an essential oil of antispasmodic action with many components (terpenes, borneol esters, etc.) and between one percent and five percent of valepotriates, substances which traditionally, valerian’s sedative effects were attributed to. However, today, the most important agent of valerian root benefits is baldrinal, the valepotriates’ metabolite, called valtrate.
Valerian root benefits include tranquilizing, sedative, narcotic (favoring sleep), analgesic (calms aches), antispasmodic, and anticonvulsive effects. It produces sedation on the whole autonomic and central nervous systems, decreasing anxiety and blood pressure. Its action is similar to that of neuroleptic pharmaceuticals (fenotyazines and derivatives); however, it lacks the latter’s toxic effects. These are the indications of the valerian.
- Autonomic Nervous System Disorders (Symptom). Anxiety, anxiety neurosis, neurasthenia and irritability, headaches, palpitations, arrhythmia, basic blood pressure hypertension (with no organic cause), shivers, gastric neurosis (stomach nervousness), irritable colon, and other psychosomatic diseases.
- Tiredness and nervous depression.
- Insomnia. Due to its narcotic action, it renders good results when a bath reinforces its infusion before bedtime.
- Epilepsy. When regularly taken, it prevents epileptic attacks. However, it does not substitute anti-epileptic treatment, though it may help to reduce the dose.
- Asthma. Valerian root benefits are more prevalent in prevention than in treating acute asthma attacks, as with epilepsy. Its antispasmodic and sedative actions prevent bronchial spasms, which are one of the causes of asthma, along with mucous membrane edema.
- Pain. Due to its analgesic action, it is helpful in the fight against sciatic and rheumatic pain. Moreover, it also acts externally, applied on the affected area to ease pain in cases of contusions, lumbago, sciatica, muscular strain, and rheumatic pain.
Valerian Root Scientific Facts
- Other names: Fragrant valerian, all-heal, English valerian, German valerian, great wild valerian, heliotrope, setwall, vandal root, Vermont valerian, wild valerian.
- French: Valeriane, herbe aux chats.
- Spanish: Valeriana, hierba de los gatos.
- Environment: It grows on roadsides, forest borders, meadows, and river banks in Europe, except in the Mediterranean. Naturalized in North America and South America.
- Description: Herbaceous plant of the Valerianaceae family, with upright, hollowed, furrowed stems growing from 0.5 to 2 m high. Its little pink flowers gather in terminal clusters.
- Parts of the plant used medicinally: Root and rhizome.
How to use Valerian
- Infusion. 15-20 g of ground root per liter of water. Drink up to five cups daily, sweetened with honey if preferred. For insomnia, drink a cup for half an hour or one hour before going to bed.
- Cold extract. 100 g of root per liter of warm water. Let it stand for approximately 12 hours. Drink three or four cups daily.
- Root powder. Three or four times a day, an intake of 1 g.
- Compresses of a decoction made with 50-100 g of dry root per liter of water, boiled for 10 minutes. Apply when hot to the painful areas.
- Warm water baths, with a sedative action, adding one or two liters of a decoction similar to that prepared for compresses.
George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. “Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants.” George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants. Ed. Francesc X. Gelabert. Vols. 1 San Fernando de Henares: Editorial Safeliz, 2000. 172, 173. Print. [valerian root benefits]