The Herb Valerian has become one of our best known herbal tranquilizers.
Valerian Plant has been used as a medicinal herb since the time of ancient Rome and Greece. In ancient Greek times the remedy was known as phu. Hippocrates described its properties as a remedy for insomnia.
By medieval times Valerian had become known as "all heal," and was used for its effect on the nervous system.
Recent research has indicated a beneficial effect on the heart and the ability of Valerian to lower high blood pressure.
The most common use of Valerian today is in commercially prepared herbal supplements to be taken as a sleep aid.
Valerian has a balancing effect on the entire nervous system. Valerian is considered safe and non-addictive and produces no dulling or mind-deadening side effects. The essential oil in valerian contains isovaleric acid which has a direct effect on the central nervous system. Valerian tea owes its calming effect to a group of agents called valepotriates that are found only in species of valerian.
Dried Valerian root tea can be made with either cold or hot water.
Valerian tea using cold water: Pour 1 cup of cold water over 2 tsp. of cut valerian root; allow it to stand for 12 hours.
Valerian tea using hot water: Pour 1 cup of boiling water over 2 Tbsp. chopped valerian root; cover and allow it to steep for 30 minutes.
The calming effect of the tea will be evident when you drink at least 3 cups a day. The valerian tea produces a balancing, revitalizing effect.
USDA Plant Maturity Zones: Planting Zones 4 to 9
The herb Valerian is a flowering hardy perennial which blooms from June to September.
Valerian can grow to be 5 ft (1.5m) tall and almost as wide. It produces heads of sweet-smelling white or pink flowers which grow on tall and hollow, straight stems rising above the foliage. The light green leaves, each with eight to ten pairs of jagged-edged, narrow leaflets, stay close to the ground.
Valerian grows wild in damp meadows and ditches or near streams and creeks.
Valerian can become invasive in the garden if not controlled.
Garden Valerian grows best in full sun and rich, moist soil.
Grow Valerian from seed in the spring.
Propagate Valerian by Root division in the fall.
There is no practical method by which Valerian can be harvested by the average herb gardener.
Should not be attempted.
There is no culinary use of the herb Valerian. Some make a valerian tea or valerian root tea.
You are best advised to consult a professional for guidance in the use of Valerian as a medicinal herb. This is especially important if your condition is chronic or long-term.
Commercial capsules of Valerian can be taken for insomnia, depression, and minor nervous disorders like anxiety. Research has shown a beneficial effect on the heart and blood pressure. Valerian is also said to help stress-related conditions of the bowel, such as irritable bowel syndrome or spastic colon.
Valerian may also be added to bath water to help relieve nervousness and to induce sleep. Valerian can also be boiled and the steam can be inhaled to produce the same effect.
Valerian is found most often in medicines provided to help with insomnia; while doing so it also has provided some interesting dreams. The herb to take for a good night's sleep and memorable dreams is Valerian.