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Herbs For Natural Sleep - Valerian Root

from: Donald Saunders

Insomnia, which has been with us for as long as recorded time, affects the lives of literally millions of individuals worldwide causing mild irritation to some people and seriously affecting the quality of life for a substantial proportion of us.

Finding a cure for insomnia and getting back to nights of natural sleep can be difficult but, for a lot of people, the answer lies in turning to time-honored traditional herbal remedies such as valerian root.

Valerian, a hardy perennial with sweet smelling pink or white flowers, grows in numerous parts of Europe and Asia and now also grows naturally in areas of the USA. Other names frequently used for valerian include: garden valerian, and garden heliotrope (no relation to Heliotrope - Heliotropum).

Valerian is also referred to by various folk names: All-Heal, Bloody Butcher, Red Valerian, Set Well, Sets Wale, Phu, English Valerian, Amantilla, Cat's Valerian, Vandal Root, St. George's Herb, , and Capon's Trailer.

The principal components used for medicinal purposes are the roots, rhizomes (underground stems) and stolons (horizontal stems). Generally harvested in September, the dried roots can be used to prepare teas and tinctures, while the dried plant materials ordinarily find their way into tablets or capsules.

There is reference to the use of valerian for medicinal purposes as far back as the time of rome and ancient Greece. Hippocrates documented its therapeutic uses and, in the 2nd century, Galen prescribed valerian for insomnia. The 16th century saw it used to treat headaches, nervousness, heart palpitations, and trembling. In the mid-19th century, many people considered valerian a stimulant that stimulated Some of the complaints it was thought to treat and held it in low esteem as a medicinal herb. During World War II the English used it to relieve the stress of air raids.

As opposed to many other natural herbal sleep aids, to gain the maximum benefit from valerian you need to use it regularly, with the full effects appearing slowly and steadily over time.

Results will usually appear after about one month and regular use promotes natural sleep and deep relaxation. A variety of studies suggest valerian as far and away the best natural answer for insomnia and general sleeplessness for many individuals.

Research at the Nestlé Research Laboratories in Switzerland demonstrated that a 450 mg dose of valerian in an aqueous extract is the optimum dose as a treatment for insomnia. A larger dose commonly results in grogginess without any increased effectiveness, and thus care should be taken when giving that valerian is a treatment for insomnia.

In addition, a double-blind crossover study of 128 people carried out in 1982, found valerian root to not only be effective as a sedative for insomnia, but also to be of assistance in raising the overall quality of sleep in the participants.

Commonly prescribed as a calming sleep aid, valerian also plays a very useful role in treating anxiety-related sleeping difficulties.

Unlike other normally prescribed sleep medications, valerian is not toxic, does not impair your ability to drive or operate heavy machinery and does not magnify the effects of alcohol.

It has been documented that valerian acts as a delayed stimulant for some individuals depending upon body chemistry. With certain metabolic conditions, the effect is one of initially calming you down only to create a surge of energy a few hours later - not an effect wanted by people interested in employing valerian as a nighttime sleep remedy.

A number of professional herbalists advocate taking fresh valerian root extract as opposed to an extract of dried valerian, as this is less likely to create such a reaction.

About the Author:

Donald Saunders is the author of a number of health related publications including "A Guide to Natural Sleep Remedies". To find out more about using herbs to promote natural sleep and to cure insomnia visit today or, for more general advice on sleep disorders see

Read more articles by: Donald Saunders

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