There are four species of Valeriana that are important articles of commerce either as the plant material or as extracts used in the production of the commodities mentioned below. These species are European Valerian Valeriana officinalis L., Indian Valerian V. wallichii DC, Mexican Valerian V. edulis Nutt. ex Torr. & Gray and Japanese Valerian V. fauriei Briq.. Commercial supplies of these four species are mainly obtained from cultivation but some plants are still collected from the wild. The first three of these are cultivated in Europe whilst Japanese Valerian is grown and used mainly in the Far East and Indian Valerian is the species grown and used on the Indian subcontinent. Valeriana officinalis is also grown commercially in North America. Most of the data available refers to Valeriana officinalis since this is the species which has received most attention as a commercial crop and is consequendy utilised in Western society. It should be remembered, however, that a large trade in these and more local Valeriana species, as with other plants used in traditional medicine, occurs within developing countries at a local level and information concerning this usage is practically impossible to obtain. In these conditions Read more […]
Archive for category Valerian'
Valerian: Medical Uses Valerian is used for anxiety, stress, insomnia, and hypertension in which anxiety is a factor. Historical Uses The Greeks, Romans, and English colonists used valerian for sleep problems, digestive problems, and menstrual cramps. It has also been called garden heliotrope. Growth Native to Europe and North America, valerian will grow in New England herb gardens. It loves wet soil. Its stems can grow to 5 feet tall, and the petite flowers make up a flower head with small, fragrant pink and white flowers. The roots are harvested in the spring and fall. Unfortunately, they smell like dirty socks. Part Used • Root Major Chemical Compounds • 0.8 to 1 percent valeric acid • 1.0 to 1.5 percent valtrate • Volatile oils Valerian: Clinical Uses Valerian is used for anxiety, stress, insomnia, and hypertension in which anxiety is a factor. It is approved by the German Commission E for “restlessness and sleeping disorders based on nervous conditions.” It is approved by the World Health Organization for “sedative and sleep-promoting properties”. Valerian is generally regarded as safe and is approved for food use by the Food and Drug Administration. Mechanism of Action In animal studies, Read more […]
Valeriana officinalis L. (Valerianaceae) Synonym(s) and related species All-heal, Belgian valerian, Common valerian, Fragrant valerian, Garden valerian. Many other Valerian species are used in different parts of the world. Pharmacopoeias Powdered Valerian (The United States Ph 32); Powdered Valerian Extract (The United States Ph 32); Valerian (British Ph 2009, The United States Ph 32); Valerian Dry Aqueous Extract (European Ph 2008); Valerian Dry Hydroalcoholic Extract (British Ph 2009, European Ph, 6th ed., 2008 and Supplements 6.1, 6.2, 6.3 and 6.4); Valerian Root (European Ph, 6th ed., 2008 and Supplements 6.1, 6.2, 6.3 and 6.4); Valerian Tablets (The United States Ph 32); Valerian Tincture (British Ph 2009, European Ph, 6th ed., 2008 and Supplements 6.1, 6.2, 6.3 and 6.4). Constituents Valerian root and rhizome contains a large number of constituents which vary considerably according to the source of the plant material and the method of processing and storage. Many are known to contribute to the activity, and even those that are known to be unstable may produce active decomposition products. The valepotriates include the valtrates, which are active constituents, but decompose on storage to form other Read more […]
Answers to Patients’ Frequently Asked Questions What will this herb do for me? Valerian is classified as a mild, sedative herbal medicine. It can reduce the time it takes to fall asleep at night and may also relieve stress and anxiety during the day. When added to a bath, it may increase relaxation, wellbeing and reduce some forms of pain. When will it start to work? For some, it works within an hour of the first dose; however, research suggests it works best after several weeks of regular use. Are there any safety issues? From the available evidence, next-day drowsiness is uncommon and physical addiction highly unlikely. Taking high doses during the day may increase drowsiness, so care is needed when driving a car or operating heavy machinery.
Contraindications and Precautions No known contraindications. Care should be taken when driving a car or operating heavy machinery when high doses are used. Pregnancy Use No restrictions are known; however, safety has not been well established in pregnancy. No significant negative effects have been reported in toxicological tests with animals and none reported in clinical studies. Practice Points / Patient Counselling • There is good scientific evidence to support the use of valerian as a treatment for insomnia; however, it appears that ongoing use may be more effective than single-dose use and effects on sleep progress over several weeks. • It appears to be best suited to reducing sleep latency (i.e. time taken until falling asleep) and improves subjective assessments of sleep. • There is no evidence of next-day somnolence or significant adverse effects. • Valerian also relieves symptoms of stress and anxiety, with several studies observing effects similar to benzodiazepines; however, further research is required. • Due to its pungent odour, solid-dose forms may be preferable.
Toxicity According to one case report, a dose of valerian taken at approximately 20-fold the recommended therapeutic dose appears to be benign. Adverse Reactions As with numerous pharmaceutical sedatives, next morning somnolence is a possible side-effect of therapy; however, evidence from two human studies suggests this is not associated with valerian use. Vivid dreams were reported in one study; however, this is considered rare by clinicians. Paradoxical effects have been observed in clinical practice; however, this also appears to be rare. Occasionally, headache and gastrointestinal symptoms have been reported. Significant Interactions PHARMACEUTICAL SEDATIVES Theoretically, potentiation effects may occur at high doses; however, this has not been tested under clinical conditions — observe patients taking valerian concurrently with pharmaceutical sedatives. ALCOHOL RCTs have shown no potentiation effects with alcohol use.
In practice, valerian is rarely used as a stand-alone treatment and is often combined with other sedative or relaxant herbs, such as chamomile, passionflower, skullcap, lemon balm and hops. INSOMNIA Numerous RCTs have investigated the effects of valerian as a treatment for insomnia. Although not all results are positive, results from several well conducted placebo-controlled studies suggest that valerian decreases sleep latency and increases sleep quality in poor sleepers. Preliminary evidence suggests that ongoing use may be more effective than single dose use and effects on sleep progress over several weeks. A number of different valerian products have been studied (e.g. Baldosedron, Baldrien-Dispert, Euvegal, Harmonicum Much, Seda-Kneipp, Sedonium, Valdispert, Valverde and Valerina Nutt). The LI 156 valerian extract is one of the most studied. A systematic review by Stevinson and Ernst (2000) identified 19 studies involving valerian treatment that were published prior to May 1999. Of these, nine were chosen for inclusion because they were randomised, measured sleep parameters and tested single ingredient valerian products. Three studies considered the cumulative effects of long-term use of valerian whereas Read more […]
Common Name Valerian Other Names All-heal, amantilla, balderbrackenwurzel, baldrian, baldrianwurzel, fragrant valerian, heliotrope, herbe aux chats, katzenwurzel, phu germanicum, phu parvum, valeriana, wild valerian Botanical Name / Family Valeriana officinalis (family Valerianaceae) Plant Part Used Rhizome Chemical Components Valtrates, didrovaltrates, isovaltrates, monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes, caffeic, gamma-amino butyric and chlorogenic acids, beta-sitosterol, methyl 2-pyrrolketone, choline, tannins, gum, alkaloids, a resin. Essential oils (0.5-2%) in the plant contain the compounds bornyl acetate and the sesquiterpene derivatives valerenic acid, valeranone and valerenal. The chemical composition of valerian varies greatly depending on such factors as age of plant and growing conditions. Processing and storage of the herb also affects its constituents, such as the iridoid esters, which are chemically unstable. Historical Note The sedative effects of valerian have been recognised for over 2000 years, having been used by Hippocrates and Dioscorides in ancient Greece. Over the past 500 years, it was widely used in Europe as a calmative for nervousness or hysteria and also to treat dyspepsia and flatulence. Read more […]