Using Valerian
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: M. E. Joy
Posted on: August 10, 1998

What is the best way to use valerian? I would like to experiment with its calming properties, but don’t want to misuse it.

Valerian has a long history of use as a relaxing and sleep-inducing herb. It is sometimes called the "herbal Valium". The root contains compounds known to calm the nervous system. These compounds include the valepotriates and valerenic acid. The plant is hardy perennial, easy to grow, and easy to prepare and use.

The well-known American herbalist, Christopher Hobbs, wrote a book on valerian called simply, "Valerian", which we recommend highly. He covers the traditional uses, the current scientific and medical understanding of its properties, and gives valuable information on its proper use.

John Lust, in "The Herb Book" (available from Richters) says that valerian is useful for "all sorts of nervous conditions, migraine, and insomnia" and for "hysteria, neurasthenia, fatigue, and stomach cramps that cause vomiting". But he also suggests that it should not be taken for more than two to three weeks at a time. Large doses can cause symptoms of poisoning.

It can be taken as an infusion (tea), cold extract, or, most commonly, as an tincture.

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