Valerian Root: benefits, risks and negative health effects

Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) is a plant originating from Europe and Asia. Since ancient times, the root of this plant has been used to treat insomnia, headaches and palpitations. Once used in the perfume composition, it has a delicate flavor, although its smell is very strong, due to the volatile oils and other compounds responsible for its sedative effect. There are over 250 valerian species, but Valeriana officinalis is most commonly used in the West. Besides, only two of them are commonly used in medicine. Valerian supplements are made from plant roots and stems and can be consumed as tea, tincture, capsules or tablets.

Valerian: Benefits

Improves the quality of sleep. Valerian has a sedative effect and in the last 2000 years it has been used to provide a relaxing state and to improve sleep, especially in people suffering from conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, hypothyroidism, HIV or post traumatic stress. One of the main effects is to reduce sleep disturbances or time needed to fall asleep without causing addiction or health risks. Consumed properly, it can be the ideal alternative to insomnia pills for patients with long-term sleep disorders.

Reduces anxiety. Valerian is also known as the natural Valium, due to its similar effects in terms of anxiety reduction to varius drugs in the Benzo class, such as Valium and Xanax.

Improves stress management. Valerian increases the GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) level in the brain that is low throughout periods of stress. It also reduces physical responses during stressful situations and reduces blood pressure.

Reduces menstrual cramps. Valerian can suppress muscle spasms and, according to studies, inhibits contractions of the uterine muscle.

Reduces the symptoms of menopause. In a study involving 100 menopausal women who did not have a good night’s sleep, 30% of the participants who were given valerian reported feeling better after four weeks.

Improves the health of the heart. Studies have shown that valerian helps strengthen blood vessels and improve elasticity, all of which are beneficial to heart health. In addition, following valerian consumption, blood pressure is reduced, as the blood vessels expand and become more relaxed.

Improves memory and cognitive function. Older people are more vulnerable to memory loss and other types of cognitive problems following a surgery. As per a study, it was found that valerian reduces the risk of cognitive decline one month after a heart surgery.

Improves fibromyalgia. Bathing in Valerian three times a week for three weeks helps improve mood, sleep and reduces the pain caused by fibromyalgia.

Prevents kidney disease. If your cholesterol level is high, valerian can protect your kidneys from diseases that could be caused by high amounts of fat.

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