by Matt Weik
Are you someone who struggles to fall asleep, no matter how tired you are? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. As per the American Sleep Association, around 70 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders. 30% of adults suffer from short-term insomnia, and approximately 10% have long-term insomnia, making insomnia one of the most common sleep disorders. Could valerian root supplements be the solution?
From various exercises to medications, there are many things that can help you relax and sleep better. But do you know there is a natural herb that can ease your anxiety and help you with your sleeping disorder? Let’s talk about valerian root!
In this article, we will uncover everything about valerian root, its potential health benefits, side effects, and how to consume it.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It is not meant to treat or diagnose any condition. The information found within this article is not medical advice and should not supersede a doctor’s diagnosis and treatment plan should you have a health condition. The use of valerian root supplements should never be a replacement for any medication that your doctor puts you on.
What is Valerian Root?
Valerian root, also known as Valeriana officinalis, is a flowering herb native to Europe and Asia. People have been using this medicinal herb for ages to treat sleep disorders because of its calming properties.
The roots of valerian are used for making the supplements. It can be consumed in various forms like tablets, capsules, tea, and more. Let’s deep diver into the benefits.
The Benefits of Valerian Root Supplements
The one benefit that everyone has probably heard of regarding valerian root supplements is the sleep benefits. We will discuss that and more below as we disclose some of the benefits that can be experienced when using valerian root supplements.
1. Helps Ease Anxiety
Stress and anxiety hit everyone at some point in life. The daily stressors of work, family life, and the hustle that we all experience can cause some form of anxiety, which can hurt your sleep patterns. Therefore, if you are feeling anxious or struggling with some stressful situation, valerian root supplements can help.
According to a 2021 study, consuming 530 mg of valerian root one hour before going to bed can significantly reduce anxiety symptoms compared to placebo.
Also, the treatment shows an improvement in depression and sleep quality. Apart from the anti-anxiety effects, valerian roots also help with the chronic conditions caused by anxious behavior like OCD.
2. Helps Improve Sleep
One of the most important benefits of valerian root is that it helps in improving sleep. It is because it contains calming properties that can help you to rest better.
Research shows that valerian root can reduce the time it takes to fall asleep. This, in turn, improves the quality and quantity of sleep that you can achieve.
A 2020 review that included 60 studies shows that valerian root effectively promotes sleep and helps prevent sleep disorders.
3. Helps Reduce Hot Flashes (Women-Only)
Valerian root proves to be beneficial for women during menopause as it helps in reducing hot flashes.
A 2018 study shows that consuming 1060 mg of valerian root per day for a period of 2 months can help in reducing hot flashes.
Valerian root extract also has a history in traditional medicine, commonly in combination with other herbal remedies like passion flower, to help manage anxiety. Since it increases GABA in the brain, valerian root extract may effectively reduce anxiety symptoms. Early research suggests that valerian root for anxiety may produce positive health benefits, but there is insufficient studies to reach a safe and definite conclusion.
One study compared 100 mg of valerian to 20 mg of propranolol and a placebo in an experimental stress situation in 48 healthy participants. According to the results, valerian significantly reduced somatic arousal, which is a physical symptom of anxiety.
Another preliminary, randomized, double-blind study used a sample size of 36 people with generalized anxiety disorder. For four weeks, the subjects either used a placebo, 2.5 mg of diazepam three times a day or 50 mg of valerian three times a day. The researchers noticed that valerian and diazepam significantly reduced the psychic factor of the Hamilton Anxiety Scale (HAMA).
In another randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled trial, researchers studied 54 participants to compare the effects of kava and valerian root versus a placebo. After seven days, valerian root and kava supplements significantly decreased blood pressure, heart rate reaction and self-reported stress.
Possible Side Effects of Valerian Root Supplements
Valerian root supplements are considered safe when consumed at recommended doses. As per a review, around 60 studies show that the participants experience no adverse effects from the consumption of valerian root.
However, some people may experience headaches, weakness, fatigue, dizziness, and stomach-related issues. Due to this, it is best to consult a doctor before using valerian root supplements.
Additionally, a few cases show liver injury due to valerian root. But the liver injury was related to valerian root in combination with other herbs, so the real reason is still unknown.
Who Should Avoid Valerian Root?
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, avoid consuming valerian root supplements. Also, do not give valerian root supplements to kids or teens unless recommended by a doctor.
Valerian root may interact with various medications like cyclosporine and other antibiotics. So, ensure that you consult a health professional before adding any herbal or natural supplement to your routine. You will want to inform them of all the medications you are taking, so they can recommend if the supplement is appropriate for use.
As per research, the recommended dose to improve sleep quality is 450-1410 mg per day for around 4-8 weeks. And for relieving tension, a dose of 400-600 mg is recommended.
A dose of 530-735 mg per day is effective for reducing the symptoms of anxiety and OCD. Moreover, it is better to take advice from a trusted professional to determine the correct dosage for you.
Should You Take Valerian Root Supplements?
From improving your sleep to reducing your anxiety, valerian root supplements can help support your overall quality of life.
It is safe to use and is unlikely to cause any side effects, but it is better to talk to a professional first. They can help you learn more about sleep issues and help establish the underlying cause.