Valerian's name is derived from the Latin valere which means ‘to be strong, powerful, healthy’, and valerian was traditionally most valued as a tonic, especially in convalescence.
To support healthy sleep
Tension and anxiety
Valerian root samples have different organoleptic qualities depending on whether it is fresh or dried and the species used. Taking a tea or extract made with Valeriana officinalis one notices first the strong earthy almost animal odour (sometimes likened to sweaty shoes!) which is often found to excite cats. This carries over to the first taste, soon supplanted by a distinctive low bitterness, an astringent woody quality, a little spicy heat and finally a slightly camphor-like aftertaste.
All around the world the actions of traditional medicines were understood by their immediate sensory impacts. Click on each of valerian’s key qualities below to learn more:
The complexity of these tastes reflect the action and reputation of the whole remedy.
Valerian is primarily used to encourage a healthy sleeping pattern. It can be tried in any condition dominated by tension and anxiety. It can relax tense muscles and may be used for tension headaches, intestinal cramps and palpitations associated with tension in the chest and diaphragm.
It is a common treatment for pain associated with menstruation. It is also said that the anxiety and sleeping difficulties due to premenstrual symptoms can be helped.
For some people however the tonic reputation of valerian can translate into a stimulating effect. If you feel anything like this stop the valerian and start it again to be sure.
Valerian presents a fascinating paradox. It is both one of the most established remedies in modern medicine, including as a prescription medicine in Europe, yet its mechanism of action is still unknown.
Today it is generally viewed primarily as a mild sedative, but in antiquity, it had a much more rounded application, including a reputation as a general tonic.
Valerian contains a volatile component of the essential oil found in catnip. This is why cats love the smell of valerian. This plant also attracts rats and one story describes the Pied Piper using both his pipes and valerian to draw rats away from Hamelin.
Valerian is well tolerated with few reported side effects. Some people find that it is slightly stimulating rather than relaxing.
In India valerian has been described with the following characteristics