Valerian root comes from the valerian plant which is a herb native to Asia and Europe but nowadays grows in many parts of the world including US and Canada. Parts of this plant ,including the roots, have many medicinal properties.
The valerian plant can grow up to 6ft tall. Unlike the plant’s delicately scented flowers, valerian roots have a very strong odor that many find unpleasant.
Valerian root’s medical usage dates back to ancient Greece and Rome. Early on, people treated migraine, tiredness, stomach cramps, and insomnia with valerian root.
The compounds of Valerian root
Valerian root contains multiple chemical compounds that may impact the human brain and body. Even though scientists are not sure how the valerian root works in the body, they have have found these active compounds in it:
- Iridoids also called valepotriates
- Essential oils including valerianic acid and valeric acid
- Low levels of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid)
Here are some of the valerian roots benefits:
One of the most popular uses of valerian root is to have a better sleep. Research has found that valerian root could help people with the sleeping disorder known as insomnia, a condition that makes it hard to fall asleep.
60 studies have been analyzed and found that valerian could have a positive effect in treating sleep problems and help reduce nighttime awakenings, improve sleep quality and help people to fall asleep faster.
Scientists are yet to know how exactly valerian root functions to help people with better sleep. They believe it's a combination of different compounds. One is that the valerian root increases the amount of GABA in the brain.
Even though valerian may be helpful for improving certain aspects of sleep in some people, more research is needed before strong conclusions can be made.
May help reduce Anxiety and Stress
People often use valerian root as a natural way to deal with stress and anxiety. Some studies suggest that valerian root might help reduce anxiety and make you feel calmer. This could be because it seems to interact with chemicals in the brain.
Scientists think that valerian root might boost the activity of a brain chemical called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA has a calming effect on the central nervous system. So, by increasing GABA levels, valerian root might help lower anxiety and make you feel more relaxed.
Soothing Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
90% of women who menstruate experience symptoms of PMS, some so severe that it affects their ability to live their normal daily routine around the time of their periods.
Symptoms of PMS include : bloating, cramps, headache, mood swing, irritability , swollen and tender breasts, food cravings, anxiety, depression, back pain, excessive tiredness,
The valerian root might help soothe your symptoms. This is because valerian root can suppress muscle spasms and relieve pain.
Based on a study it was concluded that taking valerian root may reduce the severity of both the physical and emotional symptoms.
Relieve symptoms of Menopause
Menopause is the time when the menstrual cycle stops, it can cause symptoms like hot flashes, sleep problems, anxiety and depression.
Research has shown that taking valerian root helped reduce the severity and frequency of hot flashes for people going through menopause. Hot flashes cause sweating, sudden warmth and rapid heartbeat that for some it is uncomfortable.
Valerian root may also improve sleep disturbances, and lower the effects of anxiety or depression during menopause.