The valerian Also known as Valeriana officinalis, it is a flowering plant native to Europe and Asia. The root of this herb is commonly used medicinally, especially for sleep disorders, insomnia. Its greatest effectiveness is achieved by combining it with hops, lemon balm or other herbs, which also cause drowsiness. There is scientific evidence that valerian is effective in getting you to sleep, although not all studies gave favorable results. This herb has been tested in conditions related to anxiety and psychological stress, such as nervous asthma, hysterical states, excitability, fear or illness (hypochondria), headaches, migraine headaches, and an upset stomach.
How can we take advantage of the properties of the valerian root for our health?
The use of the root of valerian comes from very distant times, from the Greek and Roman empires. Hippocrates had already pointed to this herb to treat headaches, nervousness, tremors, and heart palpitations.
This root among its components contains valerenic acid, which is possibly the one that affects the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors in the brain. The effect of GABA is believed to be to control fear, the anxiety that is experienced when nerve cells are over-excited.
In these cases valerian can act as a mild sedative and an anxiolytic. This drug that reduces anxiety, also known as: gentle healing, amantilla, baldrian among others.
Valerian is commercially available as teas, tinctures, capsules, and tablets.. Also as essential oils and extracts; that are used in these presentations as flavorings in food and beverages.
Alternative practitioners argue that valerian root can be helpful for a variety of health conditions among them: insomnia, anxiety, headaches, digestive problems, menopausal symptoms, muscle pain and fatigue after exercise. The results for these symptoms are mixed.
Possible side effects
Valerian is probably safe, based on clinical studies, but with short-term use. The side effects that it can produce are mild, as it is generally very well tolerated.
The symptoms of intolerance to the root of this herb that can be observed are: headache, dizziness, itching, upset stomach, dry mouth, vivid dreams and daytime sleepiness.
To avoid complications, it is advisable to always inform the doctor before starting to use this herb for medicinal purposes. Ideally, liver enzymes should be monitored frequently to ensure that the liver remains stable.
Use should be discontinued and a physician called immediately if signs of liver failure are observed, such as persistent fatigue, nausea, vomiting, dark urine, clay-colored stools, or jaundice.