Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)
Part Used: Root
Flavor/Aroma: Pungent; Sweet; Bitter
It’s hard to mention herbal remedies without Valerian coming to mind. This newly popularized sleep-inducing botanical has been used by ancient European civilizations for centuries, treating ailments from hysteria to impotency. Valerian was a popular post WWII treatment for trauma or shock, in the Middle Ages it was utilized for seizures, and this therapy was also mentioned among English folklore as a potent aphrodisiac.
Valerian is a hardy perennial plant that thrives in wetter soil conditions, with varying sun and shade, and can reach heights upwards of three feet tall. It’s leaves grow in pairs along the stem, and are elliptical and deeply serrated. The flowers express in clusters of white or purple or pink pigments, with slender, delicate petals, and is sweetly aromatic. The blooms will appear in the summer months. The roots are short, posses a smelly odor when bruised, and they grow as a vertical rhizome.1
Valerian is indigenous to Europe and parts of Asia, including regions of the Himalayas, and has since been transplanted to North American soil. The roots of Valerian are best harvested after the flowers have fully expressed and when the energy of the botanical is centralized under the earth in the roots of the plant. Always use your best discretion when harvesting, keeping in mind fellow foragers and pollinators alike.4
Valerian favors wet soil types and will thrive in moist conditions with plenty of sun, although some species do well in partially shaded conditions. It will thrive in rockier soils, especially ditcher and cravasses, making it the perfect contributor to the local ecosystem. Valerian’s flowers also provide an abundance of nutritious pollen for local foragers and pollinators alike. As always, use your best judgment when harvesting and always consider others, including no humans, that also utilize this powerful herb.
Valerian is steeped in rich folklore spanning across Europe and to the Americas, with its mention in legends like “Pied Piper of Hamelin”.4 The root is mentioned throughout history as a general nervous system tonic with a variety of specifically indicated conditions it was used to support. A decoction of the root was used to support irritability, nervousness, hysteria, headaches, restlessness most commonly. Valerian is indicated to support those suffering from PTSD, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and insomnia.2,6
It was thought that Hippocrates treated Alexander the Great’s post traumatic stress disorder with Valerian root medicine, and a topical preparation was prepared to treat his battle wounds as well.4
American Native Medicinal Use: Valerian root was commonly used as a tea preparation to combat hysterical emotions, anxious flares, and other irritable states. It was referred to, as it’s latin name Valeriana suggests, as plant to promote “valor” or strength in the face of distressing times.3
Valerian is indicated to support a variety of nervous system imbalances such as depression and anxious tendencies, relax hysterical episodes, for seizures and epileptic presentations, and as a general sedative. The British Herbal Pharmacopoeia recognizes Valerian as a spasmolytic and relaxant used to remedy migraines, intestinal colic, rheumatic pains, restlessness and insomnia, and dysmenorrhea. It is also used to encourage delayed or uncomfortable menstrual cycles, to relieve painful cramping, and sooth both mental and physical tension.1,2,4,6
Uses and Preparations:
Dried Herb Tea Preparation:
Decoction of 3-6 grams per cup of boiling water.
Using a reusable tea bag or tea ball, immerse the loose dried herbs into boiling water and allow to steep for 5-10 minutes, preferably covered, in order to release the maximum amount of herbal goodness. Some herbal tea can carry a strong flavor. We recommend organic honey as a sweetener which preserves the beneficial herbal compounds.
2-6 mL up to 3 times daily.
Some herbal tinctures can have a strong flavor on their own. Adding your tincture to a glass of 6-8oz of water is one easy way to help, should you wish to dilute the flavor.
It is important to remember that some bodies may react differently than others when using herbal products. Our recommended usage amounts are designed to be an average dosage only. If you have specific concerns about the usage amount or interaction with other medication, please consult with your doctor or health care practitioner prior to using our products.
It is important to remember that some bodies may react differently than others when using herbal products. Our recommended usage amounts are designed to be an average dosage only. If you have specific concerns about the dosage amount or interaction with other medication, please consult with your doctor or health care practitioner prior to using our products.
Sun God Medicinals products that contain Valerian:
We recommend consulting with your practitioner if you are pregnant, or plan to become pregnant, or if you are using any other medications.
- Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://cms.herbalgram.org/expandedE/Valerianroot.html?ts=1573767940&signature=1043383d4a57d42bf9f97215d06deca9
- Valeriana officinalis. Officinal Valerian. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.henriettes-herb.com/eclectic/woodville/valeriana.html
- Let's Look at the Valerian Roots. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://nativeamericanherbalism.com/body-aches/valerian-roots/
- Valerian Monograph. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.herbrally.com/monographs/valerian
- The Pied Piper of Hameln. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.pitt.edu/~dash/hameln.html#browning
- Valerian. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.rjwhelan.co.nz/herbs A-Z/valerian.html
For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.