In this article, we will discuss the benefits of Valerian root as an herbal medicine for anxiety, depression, and an alternative to sleeping medications. There are hundreds of natural herbs and plant medicines available to the public today, and at a certain point, it is extremely hard to keep track of which plant does what. Between family learned remedies, and new medical journals studying the science behind each plant and its effects, a lot of information can get lost. We hope to provide an easily understandable crash course about each herb that we carry at our shop for those who want to learn and experiment.
Valerian root is possibly the most popular for its extremely powerful smell. It is close to an old shoe dipped in vinegar, but the plant itself is quite beautiful, with delicate pink and white flowers and a light green stem. This plant can be traced back to Europe and Asia, and is massively cultivated in Belgium. The root can be found at nearly every health food store, usually powdered and pressed into a capsule, or in an alcohol based tincture with other sleep-aid herbs such as hops, lavender, and lemon balm.
History of Valerian Root as Herbal Medicine
This plant’s history reached a critical point in Ancient Greece and Rome, when Hippocrates and later on, Galen, described the incredible benefits of this plant for sleep and nervous tendencies. In medieval Sweden, Valerian plants were commonly placed in a brides bouquet to ward off envious elves with its calming powers. Then, in the 16th century, a medical journal described its uses for “female weakness”, which consisted of what we now call anxiety and feeling overwhelmed. About a century later, it had been reformed to be used for common colds and coughing fits when mixed with licorice root in a bitter tea.This method, along with smelling a pouch of the pungent dried roots, was used quite a bit during the plague, as many poor european families had easy access to the herb.
Benefits of Valerian Root
It is clear that the benefits of valerian root are scattered and many people believe differently. But with the use of modern science, we can see that valerian root does, in fact, help many people who suffer from insomnia get to sleep with ease, and can help those who want to cut pharmaceutical sleeping meds out of their routine! Valerian root interacts with gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA. GABA is a chemical messenger in our body that helps regulate nerve impulses to our brain and nervous system. Valerenic acid, the most common compound in the plant itself, inhibits the breakdown of GABA, which results in feelings of calmness and tranquility. Incidentally, this is extremely similar to the way prescription meds like Valium and Xanax interact with your body. A study from the National Institute of Health showed that treating mice with valerian root extract improved their response to physical and mental stress by maintaining levels of serotonin.
These studies go beyond just mice too. Tests with a group of adults suffering from OCD were given a valerian root extract and over a period of two weeks showed significant reduction in obsessive compulsive behavior. A similar study on a group of 169 elementary school children showed massive improvements on focus, and a reduction of hyperactivity and impulsiveness by 50% on average!
Buy Valerian Root Online Through Our Online Store
At Asheville Hemp Farms, the staff is quite familiar with this herb and prefer the dried valerian root in a loose leaf tea form, mixed with flavorful herbs such as lemon balm, rose, and honey. When it comes to this herb, don’t let the smell scare you away. It is quite smooth and pleasant to ingest, and the effects are absolutely worth the fragrance. If you are interested in managing any anxiety disorder or insomnia naturally, this is an incredible place to start. As always, we urge you to start with a very small amount. Herbs are a different experience for everyone who takes them and it is better to start small than take too much and feel unpleasant! We hope this encourages you to dive into natural medicine for you. Happy healing!