Valerian root comes from a perennial flowering plant – valerian, which is native to Europe and parts of Asia. Traditionally, valerian root has been brewed in tea or eaten for relaxation or sedition purposes.
In fact, next to melatonin, valerian is considered to be the most effective natural herbal extract for sleep related issues. Many natural sleep aid supplements include valerian root for its’ benefits and it’s not uncommon to see valerian added to anxiety supplements as well.
Valerian root has a litany of benefits, and has dozens of clinical studies to back it up. Let’s look a little closer into the health benefits of valerian root.
Valerian and Sleep
As said before, valerian is considered to be one of the most effective natural extracts for sleep problems. Not only does valerian help the body get into “sleep mode”, but it also encourages the body to stay asleep once it is already asleep.
Researchers believe that valerian’s effectiveness comes from its’ influence on the GABA receptor. However, research is not entirely conclusive on the exact effects of valerian on GABA or the body in general, but it does appear to have a tremendous effect on a person’s ability to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Valerian and Insomnia
Valerian may also help people who suffer from insomnia get back on a healthy sleep cycle. Experts separate those who suffer from insomnia and those who just suffer from occasional sleep issues and therefore claim that valerian can both help treat insomnia and general sleep problems as well.
Once again, it is not entirely sure why valerian can help insomniacs suddenly sleep again, but it’s believed to be some influence on various neurotransmitters in the brain like the GABA receptor mentioned above.
Other Benefits of Insomnia
Valerian studies primarily focus on sleep and insomnia, but there have been a few other studies looking at the other benefits of insomnia. Limited clinical research suggests that valerian may be effective in treating menstrual pain, the symptoms of PMS, the symptoms of OCD, and the symptoms of restless leg syndrome – particularly in women.
Valerian also acts as a natural sedative and therefore promotes relaxation and may enhance mood as well.
Are There Side Effects of Valerian Root?
Despite all of the known benefits of valerian root, there are also a few side effects of valerian. According to some studies, there has been some reported cases of minor side effects such as headache, diarrhea, upset stomach, fatigue, among other minor side effects.
However, as far as we can tell, there are no major health risks associated with valerian root. Valerian root is generally considered to be safe for people among all ages – at least for short-term use. Long-term use has not been studied but for the most part, it seems like there are no huge concerns or potential risks.
Even though there are some side effects, most experts would agree that the benefits grossly outweigh the risks. If you’re looking for a natural sleep aid, this is a great option. Whether you’re dealing with sleep issues, pain, or struggling with the symptoms of PMS or pain, valerian root can and will help.