Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) is a medicinal herb and root that has significant sedative and tranquilizing properties that can provide tremendous benefit to both the central nervous system and the muscular system.
Valerian contains calcium, manganese, quercitin, and ascorbic acid as well as valepotriate and isovaleric acid which gives it its calming and relaxing qualities.
It is especially beneficial for chronic insomnia, headaches, nervousness, menstrual problems, and anxiety. It is also helpful in soothing the digestive tract and cramps associated with irritable bowel syndrome.
Valerian is also known to be very beneficial for the cardiovascular system and overall heart health.
Valerian can also be used to help control hunger and reduce the urge to eat out of stress.
It has been shown to be beneficial in reducing seizure activity and is often combined with other herbs such as lemon balm, hops, and passionflower for increased relaxation and healing benefits.
Valerian is most often taken as a supplement in a capsule, tincture, or tea form and can be readily found online or at your local health food store.
A tea made from the leaves is less potent and not as smelly as the roots and combines well with lemon balm and passionflower to make a nice sleepy time tea.
Valerian is generally considered safe, but taking it is contraindicated if you are pregnant or nursing. It may be habit forming and should be used for brief periods only. The upper limit seems to be 25 days or so for adults, but verify that with the latest research, please.
It is not recommended for very young children, and may cause drug interactions with alcohol, Alprazolam (Xanax) and any number of sedative medications. Valerian should not be taken within two weeks of surgery as it may interact with anesthetics and other medicines.
Valerian may also react with drugs that are changed in the liver. Always consult your health practitioner if you are currently being treated for any illness and taking medication before adding Valerian to your diet.
A tall perennial, Valerian produces clusters of white flowers that attract butterflies and bees. Red flower Valerian is not a healing herb.
Provide Valerian with full sun for at least 6 hours a day. It likes a nitrogen rich soil that drains well and appreciates plenty of moisture.
Plant in a low spot in the garden that tends to pool after a heavy rain, yet that the water does not stand.
They propagate through their root runner much easier than seeds.
Always consult your health practitioner if you are currently being treated for any illness and taking medication before adding Valerian to your diet.
Valerian can grow to about 5 feet high and more than a foot across, so give it plenty of space. It is hardy in zones 4 through 9. Treat Valerian respectfully by giving it a layer of mulch spring and fall.
Spring and fall are also the best times to harvest Valerian’s roots and thin plants as needed.
Mixed in to your herb garden, Valerian adds a wonderful burst of blooms!
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