The Valeriana officinalis or Valerian plant seems like your average herb or shrub. It is an indigenous species of European and Asian soil but has been introduced to North America. It is known by names like amantilla, garden heliotrope and all-heal. It remains green irrespective of season, reaches a height of 4 feet and has small pinkish or whitish flowers, which smell oddly of wet socks or aged cheese. The plant itself is insignificant. The rhizome or root of the Valerian plant is a hidden source of natural chemicals and substances, that is very effective in curing certain ailments and disorders. Indeed the Valerian root is a prized medicinal ingredient. On examining the known benefits of Valerian root, you'd be surprised what all this simple brown powder made from a plant can do.
What are the Benefits of Valerian Root?
The chemical make-up of Valerian has a very calming effect on the nervous system. So for mental disorders involving the nerves, like panic attacks, tension, irritability, depression, hysteria, anxiety and excitability, Valerian root is a natural and herbal alternative to using drugs or medication. It is even used by patients using benzodiazepines (drugs for a calming effect) to switch to a less chemical and more natural medicine.
The problems of sleeplessness, restless nights, insomnia, in short, difficulty in getting a good night's sleep can be tackled by having Valerian root. The "hows" and "whys" are unclear but Valerian root has a sedative-like soothing impact that lulls an individual to sleep. Unlike other sleep inducing drugs, valerian root intake for sleep does not lead to drowsiness or sleepiness during the day.
Valerian root is a natural tranquilizer and acts as a muscle relaxant. So it is effective against muscle spasms and cramps. It even relaxes the digestive tract's muscles, so symptoms of conditions like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) are relieved or eased.
The effect of Valerian root on the nervous system is being studied for its possible use in treating severe nerve conditions like epilepsy, neuralgia and multiple sclerosis. With conditions like Attention-deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), it has been used as a natural medicine to reduce symptoms. Valerian root helps the heart to be regular in its circulation and function. The beating heart's rhythm and pace is made normal and those suffering from tachycardia can seek relief from irregular heart patterns by using this herb.
Pain is effectively reduced or relieved with a dosage of Valerian root. The numbing effect on the brain can get rid of headaches and migraines. It relaxes the muscles, so muscle pain, arthritis and joint pains are relieved to an extent. It is even effective against menstrual cramps and pain in women. Other than IBS, gastric issues like intestinal colic, flatulence, bloating and stress-related digestion disorders are eased and their symptoms are reduced with this root extract.
The above medical benefits of Valerian root are highlighted and enhanced by one property of this herb - it is not addictive in nature. So you can consume how much you need for dealing with your respective ailment and stop as and when needed. You will not feel pangs or ill-effects from stopping the dosage, neither are you "hooked" onto the herb and cannot function without it. Most drugs come with warnings like "do not drive" or "do not operate heavy machinery". Valerian root is a natural drug, whose consumption does not hinder you from such activities.
Recommended Intake of Valerian Root
Valerian root is sold in various forms, as a powder, liquid extract, as a dried extract to produce tea and in pills as a supplement. Depending on the ailment and the individual's medical condition, dosage can vary. Impact is not noted immediately. In cases of insomnia, the effects of having Valerian root can kick in after a week of consumption.
Aside from the benefits of Valerian root, there are some situations and individuals who should be cautious with Valerian root intake.
- Lactating mothers and pregnant women should not take Valerian root in tea or supplement form.
- Those suffering from liver disease should not take this herb.
- Valerian root should not be consumed in tandem or alongside antianxiety medication.
- Valerian root should not be consumed along with sedatives or anesthesia.
- Valerian root should never be had with alcohol or drugs.
- Infants and young children should not be given this herb.
- If prescribed other medications, a doctor should be consulted to the use and intake of Valerian root by a patient.
With some individuals, Valerian root can cause side-effects or may not have any impact, healing or otherwise. Prior to its consumption, it is best to consult with a practitioner to rule out the possibility of allergies or adverse effects. In summation, Valerian root has a lot of benefits with some side-effects but with the right dosage and proper use, it can act as a natural way to rid stress and sleep issues.