Recent research on valerian root shows that it may be beneficial in treating a variety of health conditions, most effectively insomnia and anxiety.
Because of the many potential side effects of prescription medications used to treat these and related problems, many people are turning to natural alternatives. Any side effects you might experience are typically quite mild, if there are any at all, and therefore is a safe, effective option for its calming, relaxing ability.
Known as valeriana officinalis, the plant can be found throughout Europe, Asia and South America in damp environments. It has been used for centuries as a food additive as well as a treatment for a variety of disorders.
Recent research shows that in modern times it is used mainly for its sedative properties, effectively treating sleeplessness as well as anxiety, depression and pain. The exact compounds within valerian that are responsible for its therapeutic effects are still unknown. Scientists are also unsure about how it works within the body to promote sleepiness and calm.
Evidence shows that it may actually increase the neurotransmitter GABA, as it contains a large concentration of the compound. This may be what causes the sedative effect people experience when taking valerian. But more research needs to be conducted in order to prove this conclusively.
The roots and stems are used in most preparations, the most common of which are tinctures, teas and capsules.
There are relatively no side effects to valerian when taken in recommended dosages, usually in the 200-500mg range. There have been reports of adverse reactions to extremely high dosages of the extract, but this is the case for any supplement that is consumed in large quantities.
As long as you adhere to the recommended amounts, you should not experience any adverse reactions.
If you would like to avoid prescription medications for the treatment of anxiety, insomnia and the like, valerian might be an option for you.
Research shows that there are few if any side effects to contend with, so it may be a safer option than pharmaceutical drugs.
Make sure you consult your physician before taking any medication or supplement to treat your health condition.