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Compilation by Armando Gonzalez Stuart, PhD

Scientific Name:

Valeriana officinalis

Other Common Name:

Valeriana, Hierba de los gatos.

Parts of the plant used:

The root and rhizomes (underground stems).

How is it used?

Valerian root is usually dispensed as capsules containing the dried root, as a tincture or extract. Valerian may also be included in syrups for use in children. Teas can also be made, but the root’s obnoxious odor limits its consumption. Valerian can be taken alone or in combination with other herbs that possess a relaxing effect, such as lemon balm, passionflower or hops, for example.

What is it used for?

Valerian root has been used for centuries for the treatment of anxiety and insomnia. The herb is also used to reduce the pain from menstrual cramps. Valerian can also be applied to skin as a wash or bath, to treat minor skin infections and for its calming effect. Valerian root may be helpful in persons with mild sleeping disorders, but its value is reduced in cases of chronic insomnia.


Safety / Precautions

  • Avoid in pregnancy and lactation.
  • Valerian can be used in small children (usually 3 years of age and over), but only under professional supervision. The dosage should always be carefully calculated according to the child’s age and weight.
  • Do not combine with alcoholic drinks.
  • Avoid taking together with sedative medications.
  • Do not drive a motor vehicle or operate heavy machinery after taking valerian, as normal reflexes can be temporarily impaired.
  • Treatments lasting longer than 3 months have not been evaluated. Check with a health professional if you plant to take valerian for longer periods of time.
  • Withdrawal symptoms may be experienced by some people if treatment with valerian is abruptly stopped after having taken it for prolonged periods of time.

Before you decide to take any medicinal herb or herbal supplement, be sure to consult with your health care professional first. Avoid self-medication and self-diagnosis: Always be on the safe side!