Valeriana officinalis
Valeriana officinalis

Part Used: Root.

Valerian is given for its nerve and tension-relieving properties. Response may vary to the action of this herb according to the dose and individual temperaments. Not taken in high doses for long periods on its own. Excitability, headache and such symptoms are a sign to reduce the dosage or use another herb; such idiosyncracies at lower doses are rare, however; especially for extracts prepared from the fresh root. Anxiety, insomnia, irritability, excitability. Phobias, paranoia, etc. (acute episodes). Hyperactive child (acute). Seizures, spasm, tremors. Neurocardiac syndrome, angina. Nervous depression from chronic stress, worry. Nervous tension in PMS, menstrual cycle, menopause. Tension headache. General pain relief. Traditional use for eyesight.

Valerian is a European herb that we find grows very well here in the Ozarks. Its fragrant white flowers and glossy leaves make it a favorite in our herb gardens. Valerian is a perennial that requires a fairly rich soil, with at least moderate moisture. It appreciates partial shade, but will grow under less than ideal conditions. The root is the part most commonly used, though the flowers make a nice tea or tincture with milder effects, that with experimentation, may be found to be more suited to long-term use, particularly for anti-depressant effects. The chemistry of the fresh and dried root are somewhat different. We like the effects of the fresh root as being less variable in its effects, and less strong-tasting (and smelling!). Valerian is a wonderful herb for relieving acute stress, anxiety, pain and spasm. The type of person that seems to benefit the most from Valerian's effects are the type that tends to hold everything inside, with all the mental and physical (especially muscular) tension that results. For the person that is in constant agitation and tends to complain, letting it all out, I find Chamomile to be the nervine of choice. Smaller doses of Valerian are used for sub-acute or chronic conditions; larger doses for quicker and more sedating effects. As Valerian first stimulates and then sedates, large or prolonged doses will infrequently have an opposite effect of over-stimulation which probably has more to do with the constitutional type of the person. We find that the the use of the fresh root extract to be less likely to cause such an effect, than dried-root products. It is good to keep in mind the guidelines to its use. It is not suited to those with depression with very depressed or sluggish organ functions. It is best used for up to 10 days with 4 or 5 day break for sub-acute and chronic conditions. For acute stress, pain, anxiety or sleepelessness, larger doses can be given over a short period of time. For the wrong type of addiction-prone person, long-term use can be psychologically addicting, which actually speaks to its efficacy. To treat underlying conditions of stress and its results on the nerves, the more mineral-laden nerve-tonic herbs should be used, such as Avena/Green Oats and/or Skullcap. Valerian can be a valuable addition to nervine formulas, more suited to long-term use if its used as a smaller part of an herb formula. Herbs to restore the adrenal-glands should also be considered with long-term stress. Now to Valerian's traditional uses. Used for anxiety states, emotional distress, paranoid states. Again, esp. effective where there is not an overly-sluggish physical state. I have found it an invaluable aid to those who have suddenly lost a loved one, for instance, or dealing with other intense emotional crises. In smaller doses is actually stimulating (yet calming) for mild depression and mental stupor or confusion. It has a tradition reputation as benefiting the eyesight. For insomnia with mental unrest, Valerian can be a great aid. It can be used as needed, or given in moderate doses over a few days time to break such a cycle. May types of tension headaches respond to Valerian. Valerain is used for acute muscle spasm and tension. It has a traditional reptuation for use in many types of spasm, convulsions and chorea. Asthma with chest tension and stress triggers. Menstrual or pre-menstrual pain with tension. Some types of stress-related palpitations and angina pains respond to Valerian. Valerian is a wonderful herb, but one that may be needed to be experimented with to see if it works with the individual's constitutional make-up.

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