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Valerian

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Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)

Alternate names

  • All-heal
  • Garden heliotrope
  • Baldarian

Native to

  • Europe
  • Asia

Medicinal parts used

  • Roots
  • Rhizomes

Uses

  • Sleep disorders and anxiety (evidence is mixed)
  • Headaches
  • Depression
  • Anxiety

How it works

  • It is believed that valerian works in ways similar to but weaker than the benzodiazepine class of drugs—both increase the body’s supply of a neurotransmitter known as gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)
  • Valerian may increase GABA production, decrease its reabsorption, and/or interfere with its breakdown

Side effects and warnings

  • Is generally regarded as safe for short periods of time (ie, 4–6 weeks)
  • Has the following side effects:

Headache
Muscle spasm
Heart palpitations
Dizziness
Gastric distress
Sleeplessness
Confusion

  • Not recommended during pregnancy or lactation
  • Avoid taking with drugs that cause sleepiness, such as:

Tegretol®
Dilantin®
Phenobarbital®
Xanax®
Ativan®
Valium®
Sonata®
Ambien®
Tricylic antidepressants

  • Avoid taking with drugs that are metabolized in the liver
  • Do not take with:

Catnip
Hops
Kava kava
St. John’s wort

  • Do not take with alcohol

Dosage

  • Usual recommended dosage of valerian root extract for insomnia: 400–900 milligrams (mg)/day

 

 

References and recommended readings

MedlinePlus. Valerian.
Available at: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/870.html.
Accessed March 31, 2011.

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Valerian.
Available at: http://nccam.nih.gov/health/valerian/.
Accessed March 31, 2011.

University of Maryland Medical Center. Valerian.
Available at: http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/valerian-000279.htm.
Accessed March 31, 2011.

 

Review Date 5/11
G-1683

G_1683_Valerian_Valeriana_officinalis.doc

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