Valerian is a medicinal plant with the scientific name, Valeriana officinalis that has gained high appreciation for combating anxiety. A perennial flowering plant indigenous to parts of Europe and Asia, it grows to about 4-5 feet and bears fragrant, white or pink colored flower heads during summer.
Though all parts of the plant contain active ingredients, they are more concentrated in the hairy roots. Thus, herbal tea prepared from valerian roots is used for therapeutic purposes.
Valerian is also known as garden valerian or garden heliotrope. Chemically, the root extract contains valeric acid, alkaloids, isovaleramide, volatile oils, and flavanones amongst others.
The active ingredients valuable for therapeutic purpose are the yellowish volatile oils. They are extracted from dried roots with a yield quantity of about 0.8 percent.
The main therapeutic applications of the tea are treatment of anxiety and sleep disturbances. When taken after a long, stressful day, its sedative properties provide a calming effect. Drinking one cup of this herbal tea relieves stress and induces sleep.
Other benefits include treatment of nervousness, restlessness, headache, stomach upset, migraine, depression, menstrual cramps, and menopausal symptoms. Due to its relaxing effects, the prolonged use of high doses of this herb may lead to its addiction.
Tea Preparation Procedure
The recipe is very simple to follow, and anybody can prepare it with simple tips.
- The volatile oils are the active ingredients of this herb. If the tea is prepared in hot water, much of these oils will be lost during preparation. Hence, to reap the maximum health benefits, the tea should be prepared in cold water.
- To prepare this herbal tea, first boil water and let it cool down to a lukewarm temperature. Then add chopped valerian roots, approximately 1 level teaspoon (or 2-3 g dried roots) for 1 cup of water. Adjust the quantity of the herb according to the amount of water.
- Cover with a lid and leave the infusion, preferably overnight. Next day, you can consume this tea after warming it a bit if preferred.
- The consumption of 2-3 cups of this tea per day (including bedtime) is considered normal. People with sleeping disorders may drink 1 cup of this tea about 40 minutes before bedtime.
In case, the dried roots are not available, you may take the herbal supplements. The dietary supplement is marketed under the trade name "Valerian". It is available in the form of capsules, and you can purchase it from your local health food stores.
Remember to check the product label for dosage as it has strong anxiolytic and sedative effect. Do not consume this herbal tea in excess for a long duration since it may lead to side effects.
According to the FDA, the use of valerian herb is considered safe; however, consult a doctor before using this herbal tea for therapeutic purposes. According to the studies conducted by the National Institutes of Health, this herb is safe to use for short periods of time.
Other studies suggests that if the herb is used for more than 4-6 weeks, then it may lead to insomnia, pupil dilation, and heart problems. Therefore, in case of any side effect, immediately stop using the herb and get medical help.
Disclaimer: This is for informative purposes only and does not in any way attempt to replace the advice offered by an expert on the subject.