Valerian is an herb found in parts of Asia as well as Europe, though it can also be cultivated in the United States. It can grow to be over 6 feet tall.
Valerian root is the root of this herb, and it’s long been used for its calming effects. Indeed, valerian root has been part of traditional medicine for centuries. Today it can be found as a tea, tincture, capsule, or tablet. It contains lignans, valerenic acid, valepotriates, and flavonoids. It’s thought to have a particular interaction with GABA, a neurotransmitter that regulates nerve impulses in your nervous system and your brain. GABA receptors are frequently targeted for sleep support to calm the nervous system. Since low levels of GABA can be associated with stress and poor sleep, valerian root is sometimes seen as part of the solution, breaking down GABA and promoting feelings of greater calm and ease. Of all the herbal remedies used to modulate GABA receptors, there is the largest body of evidence regarding valerian root, which is increasingly used to improve people’s sleep quality.
This study assessed sleep problems in a group of 8 volunteers. The group that took the valerian root saw improved sleep latency – in other words, the amount of time it takes to fall asleep – compared to the placebo group. It’s a small study, to be sure, but it suggests that valerian root does indeed have a calming effect.
A meta-analysis of 16 randomized, placebo-controlled studies of valerian found that valerian may indeed support sleep latency and sleep quality. Another study – this one involving 100 menopausal women – found that those who took the valerian extract had improved sleep compared to the placebo group.
Valerian is also sometimes used for menopause symptoms; it’s also sometimes used to improve PMS related symptoms such as mood and emotional balance.
The length of time valerian root stays in your system depends on the dose you’re using. This study found that valerian constituents were measurable for at least five hours after subjects took the valerian dose.
In most cases, valerian root does not seem to be addictive. Moreover, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has deemed valerian root to be generally safe.
In almost all cases, people don’t report any withdrawal symptoms from valerian root.
Yes, you can abruptly stop taking valerian root, because it’s typically not habit forming.
In some rare cases, when people have taken valerian root over very long stretches of time, they’ve reported some withdrawal symptoms but it is still very uncommon. In such cases it might be best to lower your dose a little bit at a time. As always, your best bet when making changes in supplements is to talk to your doctor first. That goes for whether you’re thinking of adding valerian root to your routine and when you’re thinking you don’t want to take it anymore.
Because they are used for similar reasons, people often have questions about the differences between valerian root and melatonin.
First of all, as mentioned above, valerian is an herb. It’s used for its calming effect and to improve sleep quality.
Melatonin, on the other hand, is a hormone produced by the brain, sometimes called “the sleep hormone.” Your body produces it to induce sleepiness, and it’s available as a very popular supplement to support better and deeper sleep. Your pineal gland releases melatonin into your bloodstream in response to darkness, and it halts production in response to light. Thus your body’s production of melatonin goes up in the mid-to-late evening and goes down in the early morning.
Melatonin and valerian root are both available as over-the-counter supplements. To decide which is right for you, you should talk to your doctor about your particular symptoms. Melatonin is especially beneficial for dealing with jet lag or working shifts that interrupt your regular sleep rhythm.
For more persistent sleep problems it’s best to get a medical opinion for treatment, which may include therapy. While neither melatonin or valerian are substitutes for certain underlying sleep conditions, they can produce sleep benefits for healthy individuals by helping relax the mind for better sleep and help you naturally fall asleep.
The length of time melatonin stays in a person’s system will vary based on the person and the dose. Some sources report up to 4-5 hours.
No, valerian root does not come with any other reported side effects.
If you’re having some sleep problems, you might want to check out Care/of’s Sleep Blend package, appropriately dubbed “The Snooze Button.” This package is an effective, safe sleep aid, containing a blend of melatonin, ashwagandha, valerian, and passionflower extract. It’s been shown to help folks relax their minds and fall asleep naturally. Just take it about 30 minutes before sleep. Each bottle comes with a mint-infused tab, ensuring a fresh scent. This package is also third-party tested, so you know that you’re getting exactly what’s advertised. It’s non-GMO, vegan, gluten-free, certified C.L.E.A.N., and isn’t packed with any unnecessary fillers.
Valerian root is an herbal remedy that’s been in use for centuries, well known for its calming effects. It’s become increasingly popular as a potential sleep aid, and studies have found that it can help people fall asleep more quickly and sleep more soundly once they have fallen asleep.
Valerian root also hasn’t been shown to produce any significant side effects in studies. Some people who have used valerian root over a very long period of time report some temporary feelings of withdrawal, but this is not at all common. The FDA has deemed valerian root to be “generally recognized as safe.” Studies have shown that it can stay in your system for up to five hours after taking your dose, though the lengths of time may vary based on each individual person and the amount of valerian root ingested. Valerian root is not addictive and has not been shown to lead to any side effects. Still, more research is needed.
Melatonin is another popular sleep aid – the most popular one, in fact. But melatonin and valerian root are not interchangeable. Melatonin is a hormone your mind naturally produces, while valerian root is an herbal remedy. Neither are suggested for long-term, persistent sleep problems. You should talk to your doctor if your sleep problems are chronic. However, if you’re looking for a supplement with a calming effect that can improve your sleep, valerian root can very well be part of your solution.
Care/of’s Sleep Blend package comes with a blend of melatonin, ashwagandha, valerian, and passionflower extract. As always, talk to a medical professional before adding any supplements to your routine. But if you’re having occasional issues with relaxing the mind or falling asleep, our Sleep Blend just might do the trick.