Valerian root benefit and side effects - Dosage, extract, does it help with sleep, does it reduce anxiety? Use for hot flashes and menopause, by Ray Sahelian, M.D.
September 22 2016

Valerian root is used in the traditional medicine of many cultures as a mild sedative and to aid the induction of sleep. It is a native plant both of Europe and North America. Valeriana officinalis is the species most commonly used in northern Europe. Valerian is not a potent sleep herb. For a good night's sleep, consider a product called Good Night Rx. It has a number of sedative herbs along with hops and valerian root extract (see below). Valerian root extract has less side effects than prescription sleep medications, but it is not as potent or consistent. Good Night Rx is more effective for sleep than valerian herb by itself.

Sleep problem help, sedative
Valerian has been tested many times for effectiveness in treating insomnia. Some studies have shown that it is helpful, while others do not show it to be effective. The jury is still out as to whether this herbal remedy is a good sleep inducer.

Complement Ther Clin Pract. Nov 2013. Valerian / lemon balm use for sleep disorders during menopause. 100 women aged 50-60 years who complained of sleep disorders were studied. Subjects were selected randomly in a sampling method utilizing two groups of 50 people (intervention group with valerian/lemon balm and placebo group). The Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index was administered pre and post-intervention. A significant difference was observed with reduced levels of sleep disorders amongst the experimental group when compared to the placebo group. Valerian/lemon balm may assist in reducing symptoms of sleep disorder during the menopause.

Stress, anxiety, other herbs that could be helpful
Valerian may be beneficial to health by reducing physiological reactivity during stressful situations and can be helpful in reducing anxiety. Passionflower, Tryptophan, Ashwagandha, Theanine, 5-HTP, GABA, theanine, and Kava are additional herbs and nutrients that helps calm nerves. Theanine supplement helps with relaxation and sleep.

Hot flash treatment
Iran J Pharm Res. 2013 Winter. The effects of valerian root on hot flashes in menopausal women. In this double blind clinical trial, 68 menopausal women with the chief complaint of hot flash were enrolled using sampling at hand and were randomly divided into drug and placebo groups. The women in the drug group were prescribed 255 mg Valerian capsules 3 times a day for 8 weeks. The women in the placebo group were prescribed identical capsules filled with starch. Then, severity and frequency of hot flashes were measured and recorded through questionnaires and information forms in three levels (2 weeks before, four and eight weeks after the treatment). The Severity of hot flashes revealed a meaningful statistical difference pre- and post- Valerian treatment (p <0.001) while this difference was not meaningful in the placebo group. Further, the comparison of the two groups regarding the severity of hot flash after the treatment showed a meaningful statistical difference. It also led to a reduction of hot flash frequencies 4 and 8 weeks after the treatment but this difference was not meaningful in drug like group. Valerian can be effective in treatment of menopausal hot flash and that it can be considered as a treatment of choice for reduction of hot flashes among the women who are reluctant to receive hormone therapy due to fear or any other reason.

Availability over the counter, online, in stores
Valerian can be drank as a tea in the evening, however, it has an unpleasant taste. Valerian tea can be mixed with hops and chamomile teas. Countless valerian products are available with different dosages. Valerian is often standardized to its content of valerenic acid. There is considerable variation in the composition and content of valerian root products that are available in health food stores or on line..

Valerian root side effects
No major valerian side effects have yet been reported in the medical literature when valerian root has been ingested by itself.

Q. I was just wondering about recommended dosages and possible side effects. Iíd like more info on that herb because it was at Dr Sahelianís website that I discovered St Johnís Wort shouldnít be taken if you have macular degeneration, so it seems itís good to know more about an herb before taking it.

What's in valerian root and how does it work?
The major constituents include sesquterpenoids, valepotriates, bornyl acetate and valerenic acid. Multiple compounds in valerian root have pharmacologic activity.  Valerenic acid has been shown to inhibit enzyme-induced breakdown and the inhibition of reuptake of the inhibitory neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. Basically this means that the brain chemical GABA can last longer and lead to sedation. Valerenic acid, an active constituent of valerian root extract, stimulates chloride currents through GABA(A) receptors. Valerenic acid is a subunit specific allosteric modulator of GABA (A) receptors that most likely interacts with the loreclezole binding pocket.

Review and summary
Although some studies indicate that valerian root extract has a sleep inducing effect, other studies don't support this finding. My personal experience leads me to believe that valerian root is inconsistent and cannot be relied on by itself as a reliable sleep aid. There is more evidence to support the use of valerian root in the therapy of mild anxiety or stress. Valerian root is more consistently effective for sleep when combined with other herbs and supplements that have a sedative nature.

Valerian herb human research
The Fixed Combination of Valerian herb and Hops acts via a Central Adenosine Mechanism.
Planta Med. 2004.
The aim of the study was to demonstrate competition between caffeine and a fixed valerian herb / hop extract combination by the central adenosine mechanism. EEG was used to describe the action of caffeine on the central nervous system after oral administration (200 mg) in healthy volunteers. In addition to caffeine, the volunteers (16 in each group) received either placebo or verum (2 and 6 tablets containing the valerian herb / hop extract). The EEG responses were recorded every 30 min thereafter. The verum medication was capable of reducing (2 tablets) or inhibiting (6 tablets) the arousal induced by caffeine. This pharmacodynamic action was observed 60 minutes after oral administration, indicating not only competition between the antagonist caffeine and the partial agonist, i. e., the valerian/hop extract but also bio-availability of the compound(s) responsible for the agonistic action. In conclusion, the valerian/hop extract acts via a central adenosine mechanism which is possibly the reason for its sleep-inducing and -maintaining activity.

Valerian herb does not appear to reduce symptoms for patients with chronic insomnia in general practice using a series of randomised n-of-1 trials.
Complement Ther Med. 2003.
To investigate the effectiveness of valerian herb for the management of chronic insomnia in general practice. DESIGN: Valerian versus placebo in a series of n-of-1 trials, in Queensland, Australia. Of 42 enrolled patients, 24 (57%) had sufficient data for inclusion into the n-of-1 analysis. Response to valerian was fair for 23 (96%) participants evaluating their "energy level in the previous day" but poor or modest for all 24 (100%) participants' response to "total sleep time" and for 23 (96%) participants' response to "number of night awakenings" and "morning refreshment". As a group, the proportion of treatment successes ranged from 0.35 to 0.55 for the six elicited outcome sleep variables. There was no significant difference in the number , distribution or severity of side effects between valerian and placebo treatments. Valerian was not shown to be appreciably better than placebo in promoting sleep or sleep-related factors for any individual patient or for all patients as a group.

Acute pharmacological effects of temazepam, diphenhydramine, and valerian plant in healthy elderly subjects.
J Clin Psychopharmacol. 2003.
A double-blind, randomized, crossover, placebo-controlled study was performed to assess the comparative pharmacodynamics of single doses of temazepam (15 and 30 mg), diphenhydramine (50 and 75 mg), and valerian (400 and 800 mg) in 14 healthy elderly volunteers (mean age, 71.6 years; range, 65-89). Temazepam had dose-dependent effects on sedation and psychomotor ability with a distinct time course. Temazepam 30 mg had the most detrimental effect on psychomotor ability compared with all other treatments). Temazepam 30 mg and both doses of diphenhydramine elicited significantly greater sedation than placebo, and temazepam had the greatest effect. Psychomotor impairment was evident after administration of 75 mg diphenhydramine in comparison with placebo on the manual tracking test); this was less than the impairment with 30 mg temazepam but similar to that with 15 mg temazepam (NS). No psychomotor impairment was detected with 50 mg diphenhydramine. Valerian plant was not different from placebo on any measure of psychomotor performance or sedation. valerian plant valerian root valerian herb side effects of valerian root.

Efficacy and tolerability of valerian extract LI 156 compared with oxazepam in the treatment of non-organic insomnia--a randomized, double-blind, comparative clinical study.
Eur J Med Res. 2002.
Patients aged 18 to 73 years and diagnosed with non-organic insomnia were treated in a multicentre, double-blind, randomised parallel group comparison with either 600 mg/d valerian extract LI 156 (Sedonium) or 10 mg/d oxazepam taken for 6 weeks. A total of 202 outpatients with a mean duration of insomnia of 3.5 months at baseline were included at 24 study centers (general practices) in Germany. - Sleep quality (SQ) after 6 weeks measured by the Sleep Questionnaire B (SF-B; CIPS 1996) showed that 600 mg/die valerian extract LI 156 was at least as efficacious as a treatment with 10 mg/die oxazepam. Both treatments markedly increased sleep quality compared with baseline). The other SF-B subscales, i.e. feeling of refreshment after sleep, psychic stability in the evening, psychic exhaustion in the evening, psychosomatic symptoms in the sleep phase, dream recall, and duration of sleep confirmed similar effects of both treatments. Clinical Global Impressions scale (CGI) and Global Assessment of Efficacy by investigator and patient, again, showed similar effects of both treatments. Adverse events occurred in 29 patients (28%) receiving valerian extract and 36 patients (36%) under oxazepam, and were all rated mild to moderate. No serious adverse drug reactions were reported in either group. Most patients assessed their respective treatment as very good (82% in the valerian group, 73% in the oxazepam group). During the 6 week treatment phase Valerian extract 600 mg/d showed a comparable efficacy to 10 mg/d oxazepam in the therapy of non-organic insomnia.

Effect of kava and valerian on human physiological and psychological responses to mental stress assessed under laboratory conditions.
Phytother Res. 2002.
Fifty-four participants performed a standardized colour / word mental stress task on two occasions 1 week apart. Blood pressure (BP), heart rate (HR) and subjective ratings of pressure were assessed at rest and during the mental stress task. Following the first session (time 1 = T1), individuals took a standard dose of kava, or valerian for 7 days, while the remainder acted as controls. Differences in BP and HR from resting levels were calculated as reactions to the stress task at both time points. At the second session (time 2 = T2) there was a significant decrease in systolic BP responsivity in both the kava and valerian groups relative to T1, but there were no significant reductions in diastolic BP. Between T1 and T2, the HR reaction to mental stress was found to decline in the valerian group but not in the kava group. Individuals taking kava or valerian reported less pressure during the task at T2 relative to T1. There were no significant differences in BP, HR or subjective reports of pressure between T1 and T2 in the controls. Behavioral performance on the color/word task did not change between the groups over the two time points. The results suggest that kava and valerian may be beneficial to health by reducing physiological reactivity during stressful situations.

Valerian Root Laboratory Research
In vitro activity of commercial valerian root extracts against human cytochrome P450 3A4.
J Pharm Pharm Sci. 2004.
Hydroxyvalerenic acid, acetoxyvalerenic acid and valerenic acid content was analyzed and wide variation was found between samples and compared to the concentrations noted on the product labels. Valerian extracts from the products tested also exhibited a marked capacity to inhibit cytochrome P450 3A4-mediated metabolism and P-glycoprotein transport based upon the ATPase assay. There is wide variation between commercially available samples of valerian root.

I have read in a book that "Test tube studies showing that components of valerian, especially valepotriates, can be damaging to cells and genetic material raise concern." Please let me know your views. This information is anxiety producing.
   Varro Tyler, PhD, in his book The Honest Herbal, says, " Because of their epoxide structure some of the valepotriates demonstrate alkylating activity in vitro, that is, in cultured cells, and for a time some concern was displayed for this potential toxicity. However, because the compounds decompose rapidly in the stored drug and are not readily absorbed, there is little cause for anxiety. Such toxicity has not been demonstrated in vivo, that is, in intact animals or human beings." At this point it does not appear that valerian poses a toxic problem.

Q. Firstly, I would like to state I have already stopped using it, but I wanted to know if the Valerian had anything to do with my symptoms. A few days after I started taking the Valerian for a very bad case of insomnia, I started experiencing an almost extreme paranoia, and found myself upset by things that I normally would shrug off, laugh at, or just ignore/not care about. I also felt kind of jittery all the time, almost claustrophobic even in extremely open places, as though there was a little box on my head or something. I felt constricted all the time, that kind of thing. I had previously (by previously, I mean at least 3 years ago) successfully used Valerian Root for the insomnia and experienced no side effects, so I didn't really know what else could possibly have been causing the problem more recently.
   A. It's possible valerian could be the cause, or another herb within the product, or the dosage of the valerian may be too high. Perhaps a valerian product from a different company may not have the same effect on you. It's difficult to say for sure.

I have been taking Valerian root and finding that it does, indeed, help me fall asleep. However, Iíve also experienced a recent drop in blood pressure (both numbers). Could there be a relationship between blood pressure and valerian root?
   I've only seen one study test this, and it was found that valerian root decreased systolic pressure but not diastolic. More research is needed with a larger group of people to determine the extent of blood pressure lowering with valerian root supplement.

I want to mention something about valerian supplement which both a friend of mine and I experienced, having taken it for sleep deprivation. We both took valerian herb (a small dose) and in several days ended up with severe depression. Belonging to the Lord, I asked Him what it was, and He gave me a definite sense it was the valerian herb. I quit the valerian, and the depression went immediately away. My friend took valerian a little longer than I (perhaps three or four nights), and she ended up with a VERY severe depression (never having experienced like this before--she just wanted to hibernate)! It took about three days for her body to get rid of the valerian herb. She said she will NEVER touch it again, and I surely feel the same. Surely, there need to be more warnings out there--if not on the bottles of products that contain valerian, at least by word of mouth, that valerian CAN cause depression. In our cases, neither one of us normally experiences depression, but we surely knew what it was when it happened. I used had various nutrients in it to help with sleep (never "remember" taking valerian straight), but I can't be positive which one it was. It may very well have been the Nature's Way "Silent Night", because I do remember having and trying this one. My friend took Stop Ache, which was a gift from a friend who thought to help with the pain keeping her awake at night, a Dr. Christopher formula.
   Nature's Way Silent Night has hops, valerian root and skullcap herb. Stop Ache by Dr. Christopher has White Willow Bark, Feverfew Powder, White Willow Bark 7% Salicine, Cloves, Lobelia Herb, Valerian, Wild Lettuce, Wood Betony & Hops Flowers. It is difficult for us to be certain the low mood or depression you felt or your friend felt was strictly due to valerian alone since the formulas are mixed with valerian root and other herbs. However, it is true that certain natural herbs that have a tendency to relax or cause sleep may lower mood in some people.

I have a question concering Valerian Root extract and Passion Rx. I take Valerian Root to help with my anxiety. I take 250mg of during the day (split into two doses) and 500mg at night to help with sleep. So that is a total of 750mg of the herb a day. Can I take Passion Rx as well. Is it same to combine these supplements?
    It is not easy for us to give specific suggestions since each person is different, there are many, many factors that are involved in making such decision regarding herbal and medication product combinations. As a general rule it is best to learn how each supplement works by itself for a few days before combining them.

Is it okay to take valerian root, passion flower, and tryptophan with a benzodiazepine (Ativan)? I've read that all these can interact with Aativan. But apparently that's not necessarily a bad thing because I asked someone else about valerian root and passion flower. He said that 250mg each is too low of a dose be concerned about interacting with Ativan. I guess I'd just like a second opinion because some web sites will say don't take products on the interactions list. So I'm not sure which to listen to. And if I can take those what is the highest dose I can take?
    Most people with no major health issues can take these herbs or nutrients in low dosages with a low dose of a benzodiazepine, but it is difficult to predict any one person's response. One should be familiar with the actions of each herb or medication by itself, and when combining them the dosages need to be reduced further. No specific dosage recommendations can be given since each person has a different effective or tolerance level.

I'm new to this whole anxiety, depression world. I have had some minor challenges already with either insomnia, waking up frequently, or waking very early. To combat that I have been taking 2 450mg Valerian capsules each evening. I would like to start the St John's wort at a low dose (1 300mg capsule daily). Do I need to be aware of any interaction between these two supplements.
   I am not aware of studies using this combination but he it is possible in sensitive individuals that st john wort could cause alertness by bedtime even if taken in the morning.

You guys are great! Question: have tried valerian and GABA but they don't make me sleepy. Is my body biology different?
   A. Not really. We are not impressed by the sleep inducing claims of these two supplements.

Other pages on this web site
Passion Rx is a libido product for men and women. Herbs in Passion Rx include Ashwagandha, Catuaba herb, Cnidium herb, Damiana herb, Muira Puama herb, Rhodiola extract, Shilajit extract, Tribulus Terrestris extract, Tongkat ali herb, and a version with Yohimbe.

Valerian root extract, hops, GABA, melatonin, passionflower, theanine, are several herbs useful for sleep and relaxation.
buy Valerian Root Extract supplement
Buy Valerian root extract supplement pill

Supplement Facts
Serving Size: 2 Capsules
Servings Per Container: 45
  Amount Per Serving % Daily Value
Total Carbohydrate 1 g <1%Ü
Valerian (root) 800 mg **
Valerian extract (root), 0.8% valerenic acids 220 mg **
ÜPercent Daily Values are based on 2,000 calorie diet.

Suggested Use: Take one capsule a few hours before sleep, on an empty stomach, before dinner.

Valerian Root Extract 10:1 Valeric Acids
Natural Factors Valerian Root Extract, 300 mg
Valerenic acid (0.8%) - 2.4 mg
   Valerenic acid is an extract found in valerian root
Valerenic acid (0.8%) - 2.4 mg, a valerian root extract