Valerian root helps to improve sleep, calm the anxiety, stress management, control hyperactivity and improves focus in children with adhd and heart health, reduce menstrual cramp pain and frequency of seizures in epilepsy are some of the health benefits of valerian root.
Valeriana officinalis, also called the Valerian, is a common flowering plant which bears permanent flowers and is commonly found in Europe and Asia. It bears sweetly scented pink and white color flowers. Valerian’s name has been derived from the Latin Word valere which means to be strong, healthy. This article explores the health benefits of the wonderful plant, which has been used since centuries to treat insomnia, nervousness, trembling, headaches, and heart palpitations.
7 Amazing Health Benefits of Valerian Root
Valerian Root for Calming Anxiety
We will explore this in detail since it is one of the chief uses of Valerian Root. Let’s understand how the different chemical components come together to follow a unique mechanism of action that helps to calm the anxiety.
Chemicals for Sedative Effect
- Valerenic acid increases levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid, a neurotransmitter that reduces brain cell activity. It also has anti-inflammatory effects.
- Iridoids (valepotriates and their derivatives) have sedative effects but have a lower potency.
- Isovaleric acid helps to prevent involuntary muscle contractions which can used to prevent epilepsy.
- Hesperidin and linarin are antioxidant flavonoids which have sleep-enhancing effects. Hesperidin also possesses anti-seizure effects.
Mechanism of Action
- Valerian’s effects are due to the interaction of its constituents with the GABA receptor [R].
- Valerenic acid present in valerian increases brain levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which slows down nerve activity in the brain. It does this by relaxing the GABA receptors present in the amygdala, the region of the brain involved in fear and emotional responses to stress. This produces a calming effect similar to anti-anxiety drugs.
It also increases the calming effect in the brain by:
- Preventing GABA from being absorbed into nerve cells
- Reducing the breakdown of GABA by enzymes
- Some of the other compounds in valerian can bind to GABA receptors, including lignans and other flavonoids
- Valerian Root Activates Certain Adenosine Receptors which are involved in promoting sleep.
- Valerenic acid in Valerian Root Binds to Serotonin Receptors which are involved in the sleep-wake cycle thereby increasing the sleeping times
- Valerian Root Inhibits Prostaglandin which causes muscle contractions
- Valerian Root Relaxes Blood Vessels
- Valerian Root May Reduce Cortisol Levels and Damage due to Oxidation
- Valerian has been found to prevent memory loss and improves nerve cell production and development in mice
- Valerian Root helps to suppress inflammation
Valerian Root May help to Improve Sleep
Valerian’s mild sedative effects have been used to promote relaxation and sleep since ancient times. Valerian may improve sleep by increasing GABA levels in the brain.
Valerian also helps reduce sleep disturbances in a variety of health conditions like Rheumatoid arthritis, Hypothyroidism, PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder which soldiers may face after facing such situations in action), HIV.
Valerian Root May Improve Stress Management
As we know, Valerian increases GABA levels in the brain, which helps lower during short and long-term stress. In a study of patients regularly kept awake at night by stress-related intrusive thoughts, 89 % of those patients had better sleep after 1 month of valerian treatment.
Valerian may also reduce physical reactions of our body during stressful situations. Valerian slowed heart rate and reduced blood pressure
Valerian Root May control Hyperactivity and Improve Focus in Children with ADHD
Valerian increases GABA levels in the brain. Deficiencies in GABA causes anxiety, restlessness, and obsessive behavior, which are symptoms often seen in ADHD.
In a research study, some children aged 5 to 11, were given valerian 3 times a day for 2 weeks. The results showed improved ADHD symptoms (sustained inattention and impulsivity and/or hyperactivity). These improvements disappeared 1 week after discontinuing valerian treatment.
Valerian Root May Reduce Menstrual Cramp Pain
Valerian can control muscle spasms. It inhibits muscular contractions in cell-based studies.
Because of this, it is commonly used to treat uterine cramping associated with painful periods.
Valerian Root May Improve Heart Health
In studies, valerian strengthened blood vessels and improved elasticity, which benefits heart health.
Also, valerian may lower blood pressure (hypertension). It was shown in studies to be able to widen and relax blood vessels in animal studies.
Valerian Root might be able to Reduce Frequency of Seizures in Epilepsy
A study was conducted to see how Valerian could help with controlling the frequency of seizures in epilepsy, which is a serious nervous disorder. It was found that Valerian reduced the frequency of seizures in rats by activating adenosine receptors.
Side-Effects of Valerian Root and Conclusion
Long term or excessive use of Valerian can lead to liver problems associated with nausea, upper stomach pain, itching, tiredness, loss of appetite, dark urine, and jaundice.
As we have seen, Valerian is a wonderful plant which has a multitude of medicinal purposes and can be a potent remedy for many of the illnesses which we have not been able to treat through modern medicine.