Do you suffer from insomnia or are you just sick and tired of not getting a decent night’s sleep? Did you know that there’s an herb that has been used to ease insomnia, anxiety and nervous restlessness since the second century A.D.? This natural and herbal sleep aid is called valerian root.
Valerian root is widely used and respected by the general population and physicians for its sedative effects and anti-anxiety capabilities and it also lowers blood pressure, among other tremendous benefits.
The most popular use of this versatile herb is, without doubt, as a sleep aid, it is excellent for people suffering from sleep disorders such as insomnia or interrupted sleep patterns.
Studies show that valerian reduces the time it takes to fall asleep and improves sleep quality, so if you can’t sleep, it may be just what you’re looking for. Unlike many prescription sleep medications, valerian has fewer side effects and is a lot less likely to result in morning drowsiness.
A study conducted by the Foellinge Health Centre in Sweden found that the 44% of the participants reported perfect sleep, while 89 % reported improved sleep – none of this group reported any side effects either, including morning drowsiness.
How does valerian root help you sleep so well? Valerian contains a chemical called linarin, which creates a sedative effect. Valerian extract can cause sedation by increasing your brain’s GABA level. Gamma-amino butyric acid (GABA) is an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system. In large enough quantities it can cause a sedative effect, calming nervous activity.
This extract should not be combined with other sleeping pills under any circumstances, but when taken independently, it can provide restful sleep and a refreshed feeling in the morning, without the numbness and grogginess connected to sleeping pills and other medications.
Anxiety and Depression
One of the most popular uses of valerian root is for reducing anxiety and stress. The aforementioned GABA also helps to calm anxiety with its regulation of nerve cells. The valerenic acid and valerenol contained in the Valerian root act as anti-anxiety agents, stabilizing the central nervous system. Drugs such as alprazolam (Xanax) and diazepam (Valium) also work by increasing the amount of GABA in the brain.
The improved GABA levels make it easier for the mind and body to relax, meaning Valerian root can also help to keep your stress levels down – significantly helping with daily stress management, calming down and focusing, rather than feeling overwhelmed. It can also provide mental clarity and eliminate feelings of depression.
It’s pretty amazing that a herbal remedy like valerian root can have the same anti-anxiety effects of prescription drugs without all the serious side effects. If you are taking other calming medications or antidepressants (such as tricyclic antidepressants like amitriptyline or tetracyclic antidepressants), do not take valerian at the same time.
Lowers Blood Pressure
Now that you know that valerian root can be so calming to the mind and body, it’s probably not surprising to hear it can also help lower blood pressure, improving heart health. The same active components that make valerian root so effective for stress and anxiety management can also help the body properly regulate its blood pressure.
High blood pressure is something you definitely want to avoid since it increases the chance of stroke and heart attack. Valerian root supplements can help naturally reduce blood pressure and keep it at a healthy level, which has a direct positive impact on your heart health.
Headaches and Migraines
Valerian appears to work directly on the nervous system as a natural pain reliever. One of the best ways to eliminate a headache or a migraine is with a cup of delicious valerian tea. The natural anti-inflammatory properties of this tea can soothe inflammation in the capillaries and lower blood pressure, helping relieve the pain and tension of most headaches.
If you are suffering from an upset stomach, constipation, bloating, cramping, nausea or indigestion, the antioxidants in valerian root can stimulate positive muscle function and reduce spasms in the gut. This will result in normal bowel movements and a reduction in discomfort.
Women know that problems related to menstruation and menstrual cycle can be extremely painful and uncomfortable, but valerian root has anti-spasmodic and sedative qualities, which acts as muscle relaxant, helping the uterus relax (as well as all other muscles), reducing pain and discomfort and the need for other pain relievers during menstruation. It can also soothe the mood swings and re-balance hormones that may be causing irritability or anxiety during your period. It is also helpful in soothing the hot flashes during menopause.
ADHD numbers are increasing at unprecedented rates, and hyperactivity is a major problem in educational and public contexts. Valerian root can help calm those hyperactive symptoms and allow users to concentrate and focus with a clear head, while also reducing stress hormones and strain on the body.
Many people take valerian supplements as brain boosters, but a cup of this beneficial tea can have many of the same effects. Research has shown that valerian root can increase focus, memory, retention, and neural activity!