Valeriana Products

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 material is more likely to be obtained from wild plants or from small-scale cultivation. The collection of wild material has raised concern about the possible extinction of less common species.

Valerian products are marketed and used worldwide (see Table Markets for products containing Valeriana officinalis) and comprise one of the best-selling entities of the health food/natural medicine sector in the industrialised world (Brevoort, 1996). More than two hundred commercial preparations containing Valeriana officinalis are listed (Martindale, 1996). This post presents an overview of the market in the mid-1990s and the products available.

Table Markets for products containing Valeriana officinalis

CountryNumber of productsNumber of products containing raw materialsMaa; manufacturersMajor therapeutic usesValerian as sole active ingredient
Australia1064Rhone Poulenc, VitaplexSedative5Polcopharma Valerian, B/G Valerian, N/W Valerian, Soul Pattinson Valerian, Vitaglow Valerian
Austria3013161Smetana, Chepharin-Hauser, LyssiaSedative6Baldrian Kneipp, Baldrian-Drei-Herzbl, Valin Baldrian, Baldrian Klosterfrau, Baldrian Dispert, Baldrinetten
Belgium733Centrapharm, LyssiaSedativeValdispert
Central5311Vida, HenmannSedative0
Chile44Medipharm, VoltaSedative, anti-spasmodic3Nerviol, Tintura de Valeria
Colombia22Inquifar, LafontAnalgesis, antitussive0
Finland21Lerius, OrionSedative2Valrian, Valdispert
France57242731Ardeval, Lehning, Monol, ArkopharmaSedative5Valeriane Effidose, Valerian Vitaflor, Valeriane Pachant, Valeriane Titrex, Valeriane Arkogelules
Franco-phone West Africa144712LehningSedative0
Germany47119319518258Fides, Hanosan, Nestmann, Pascoe, Pharmakon, Phoenix, Schuck, Spitzner, Weber und WeberSedative, cardiovascular34Recvalysat, Abtei Baldrian, Baldrianwurzel, Baldriafur, Sedalint Baldrian, Baldrain Dispert, Valdispert, Kohl Baldrian Dispert, Baldrian Drag Lip, Baldrian-Phyton, Baldrisedon, Orasedon, Baldrianetten, Visinal Beruhigung, Regivital Baldrian, Togasan Baldrian, Balsedat, Knufinke Baldrian, Baltherm Baldrian, Perozon Baldrian, Baldrian Tinktur, Functional Baldrian
Greece22Chrop 1, SantaSedative0
Italy232201Hdmond Pharma, SITSedative5Vai uno, Valeriana Farmades, Valeriana Dispert, Tintura Valeriana
Japan13175ZaiseidoSedative, anti-hypertensive, cardiovascular0
Korea10532Han Lim, Hae WoiCardiovascular0
Mexico541Franco MexicanaSedative0
Netherlands152121Pharbita, Daro, Roche Nicholas, VSMSedative9Daro Valerian, Extract Valerianae, Valeriaan Katwyk, Calmolan, Tendo Valeriaan, Valdispert, Extract Valeriane-2
New Zealand761Blackmores, Red SealSedative3Blackmores Valerian, Meadow Croft Valerian, Valerian Compound
Pakistan22Ran, Uni HerbalGynaecological, antacid0
Philippines11Arnet Pharmaceutical0
Portugal1156Zyma Farma Portugeas, Roba PorrugesaSedadve2Valdispert, Circulin
South Africa52111NoristanSedative1Calmettes
Spain9621Deiters, OrdesaSedative6Valeriana Deiters, Valenana Kneipp, Fitokey Valeriana, Relaxul Valeriana, Valeriana Nutter
Sweden312Kabi PharmaciaSedative3Valerecen, Neurol, Baldrian Dispert
Switzerland863339518Kuenzle, Dronamia, Robins, Wiedenmamm, ZellerSedative5Valdispert, Baldrisedon, Regivital, Kuenzle, Arkogelules
Taiwan422Sa Saoka YakuhinSedative, gynaecological0
Tunisia11Sanofi WinthropAntitussive0
USA22PharmaviteSedative2Valerian root
UK2515101Gerard HouseSedative2
Venezuela6132Lariviere, CacheSedative1Valerianato Pierl

Trade in Valeriana Species


About 1200 tonnes of Valeriana officinalis roots are estimated to be produced annually in Europe in the years after 1990. Traditional growing areas include Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium and these still produce the best quality material. Recently large amounts of this species have been grown in eastern Europe, particularly in Poland, Bulgaria and Ukraine, and this has resulted in a surplus of an estimated 800 tonnes. Valeriana officinalis is also produced for local consumption in North Amenca ().

V.wallichii originates from the Indian subcontinent and is still grown and used extensively there but is also now cultivated in China and Germany as a source of valepotriates (). V. edulis is collected and grown in Mexico, its country of origin, but is also cultivated in Germany, mainly as a source of valepotriates, since it contains high amounts of these compounds and has large roots.

The steam-distilled oil from Valeriana officinalis is now produced mainly in China and the annual production is estimated at about 7 tonnes.


The major market for Valeriana at present in Europe is Germany where the retail sales value of valerian products is reckoned to be five million US dollars annually. Significant amounts of Valeriana products are also consumed in Switzerland, France, Austria and Italy.


There are two levels of prices for Valeriana officinalis, the price at which the roots are sold by the growers and that at which they are sold by traders on the commodities market. In 1995 the first price was 2.00-2.50DM (US$ 1.4-1.7) per kg. Trader’s selling prices per kilo varied according to the country where purchased and ranged from 6.5DM (US$4.4) in UK to 6.75-7.35DM (US$ 4.6-5.0) in France and 7.5-8.0DM (US$ 5.1-5.5) in Germany. It is expected that prices may be almost halved during the next few years because of the surplus of roots available.

The price of the volatile oil obtained from Valeriana officinalis has increased in recent years as cheap European products have been displaced by more expensive material of Chinese origin. In 1984 the price was US$42 per kilo but in 1993 was quoted at US$150 per kilo.

Commercial Valeriana Products

Medicinal products

In former days galenical preparations containing Valeriana officinalis were much used in extemporaneous dispensing by pharmacists. The majority of medicinal preparations containing Valeriana products in some form are now sold in pharmacies or ‘healthfood’ retail outlets as mild sedatives and sleep inducers. The Table emphasises the worldwide use of such products.

In some countries, e.g. Germany, the dried root is still sold as a consumer product for the production of a tea to relieve over-excitement, aid the onset of sleep and for gastrointestinal disturbances (). Careful instructions for correct use and dosage have to be provided in some countries.


The most common galenical preparation, listed in many official formularies and pharmacopoeias, is a tincture made with 60% ethanol. This may be concentrated to form a soft extract. However in some modern monographs a tincture made with 70% ethanol is described (DAB10, 1991). A concentrated infusion, made with 25% ethanol, has been employed in the UK (BPC, 1963). It is likely that the preparations made with more concentrated alcohol, when freshly prepared, contain some of the volatile oil components and also valepotriates thought to be the major active components, although the latter hydrolyse quickly upon storage.

Many commercial preparations contain dried extracts made from Valeriana species although the solvent used is not always specified.


The steam-distilled volatile oil (sometimes called the essential or ethereal oil) from Valeriana officinalis is included in a few preparations (see Table) but it should be noted that it plays a much less prominent role than the various solvent extracts employed.

Commercial preparations

Valerian is included in commercial preparations either as powdered plant material or as a dry extract since these forms are the most easy to incorporate in oral dosage forms such as tablets and capsules. The Table gives an indication of the large number of commercial products which are available, many of which are marketed as ‘over the counter’ or self-selection products. In many countries there is little legal restriction at present on the sale of such entities since they are not officially classed as medicines.

It should be noted that only a minority of the products contain solely Valeriana officinalis as the active ingredient. In most preparations the powdered plant material or the extract is combined with those obtained from other plants which have a reputation for inducing relaxation or sleep. The most common of these are Passionflower Herb (Passiflora incarnata L.), Hops (the fruit of Humulus lupulus L.) and Scullcap Herb (Scutellaria laterifolia L.).

The dose of individual herbs in such preparations is not always as high as the that recommended in semi-official publications such as the British Herbal Pharmacopeia (1996) or German Kommission E monograph (1996) and careful selection and use of these products is advisable.

Isolated constituents

Although the majority of preparations based on Valeriana employ extracts or oils, there are a few instances where single compounds isolated from these crude extracts are used or where isolated compounds are combined in a standardised mixture.

The major example of the latter is Valmane ® which is a mixture of three valepotriates consisting of didrovaltrate 80%, valtrate 15% and acevaltrate 5%. It is used in several sedative proprietary preparations widely sold in European countries.

The single isolated constituents used are all obtained from the volatile oil distilled from the plant material. Valeric acid and isovaleric acid are used as active ingredients in some sedative products in Austria, Germany and Italy. The monoterpenes pinene and borneol are obtained from many other sources as well as Valeriana. They are used extensively in perfumery as well as in pharmaceutical products to relieve nasal congestion and for topical application as counter-irritants in the treatment of muscular pain. Pinene and borneol are also used as feedstock substances for the semisynthesis of a wide range of industrial and pharmaceutical fine chemicals.

Other uses

The essential oil of Valeriana officinalis is used to some considerable extent in the perfumery industry although it is blended in small amounts with other oils because of its strong odour which many find objectionable.