Valerian
Valerian

Background

Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) is an herb native to Europe and parts of Asia. Valerian root has a long history of use as a sedative.

Valerian can grow to be just over 6 feet tall and has a strong odor. It seems to act like a sedative in the brain and nervous system. Valerian has been used as a traditional medicine dating back to ancient Greek and Roman times.

People commonly use valerian for sleep disorders, especially insomnia. Valerian is also used for anxiety, stress, and many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support most of these uses.
When taken by mouth: Valerian is likely safe when used short-term. Valerian has been used safely in doses of 300-600 mg daily for up to 6 weeks. The safety of long-term use is unknown.

Valerian is usually well-tolerated. Some common side effects include dizziness, drowsiness, headache, stomach upset, mental dullness, and vivid dreams. It might cause withdrawal symptoms when discontinued after long-term use. To avoid withdrawal symptoms after long-term use, it's best to reduce the dose slowly over a week or two before stopping completely.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There isn't enough reliable information to know if valerian is safe to use when pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Children: Valerian is possibly safe for children when taken by mouth appropriately for 4-8 weeks.

Surgery: Valerian slows down the central nervous system. Anesthesia and other medications used during surgery also affect the central nervous system. The combined effects might be harmful. Stop taking valerian at least two weeks before a scheduled surgery.

Effectiveness

NatMed Pro rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.
Likely effective Effectiveness definitions
Possibly effective Effectiveness definitions
  • Insomnia. Taking valerian root extract 300-600 mg by mouth daily seems to improve sleep quality. Continuous use for up to 4 weeks might be needed before an effect is noticeable.
There is interest in using valerian for a number of other purposes, but there isn't enough reliable information to say whether it might be helpful.
Likely ineffective Effectiveness definitions
Possibly ineffective Effectiveness definitions
Insufficient evidence Effectiveness definitions

Dosing & administration

Valerian has most often been used by adults in doses of 300-600 mg by mouth daily for up to 6 weeks. It's commonly used in combination products that contain other sedative herbs, such as hops, passion flower, and lemon balm. Using valerian long-term might cause dependence. Stopping valerian after long-term use might cause withdrawal symptoms. Speak with a healthcare provider to find out what dose might be best for a specific condition.

Interactions with pharmaceuticals

Alcohol (Ethanol)

Interaction Rating=Moderate Be cautious with this combination.

Alcohol can cause sleepiness and drowsiness. Valerian might also cause sleepiness and drowsiness. Taking large amounts of valerian along with alcohol might cause too much sleepiness.

Alprazolam (Xanax)

Interaction Rating=Moderate Be cautious with this combination.

Valerian might cause sleepiness. Alprazolam also causes sleepiness. Taking valerian along with alprazolam might cause too much sleepiness.

Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 2D6 (CYP2D6) substrates)

Interaction Rating=Minor Be watchful with this combination.

Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Valerian might change how quickly the liver breaks down these medications. This could change the effects and side effects of these medications.

Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 3A4 (CYP3A4) substrates)

Interaction Rating=Minor Be watchful with this combination.

Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Valerian might change how quickly the liver breaks down these medications. This could change the effects and side effects of these medications.

Medications changed by the liver (Glucuronidated drugs)

Interaction Rating=Moderate Be cautious with this combination.

Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Valerian might change how quickly the liver breaks down these medications. This could change the effects and side effects of these medications.

Sedative medications (CNS depressants)

Interaction Rating=Moderate Be cautious with this combination.

Valerian might cause sleepiness and slowed breathing. Some medications, called sedatives, can also cause sleepiness and slowed breathing. Taking valerian with sedative medications might cause breathing problems and/or too much sleepiness.

Interactions with herbs & supplements

Herbs and supplements with sedative properties: Valerian might cause sleepiness and slowed breathing. Taking it along with other supplements with similar effects might cause too much sleepiness and/or slowed breathing in some people. Examples of supplements with this effect include hops, kava, L-tryptophan, and melatonin.

Interactions with foods

Drinking alcohol with valerian might cause too much sleepiness.
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This monograph was last reviewed on 17/10/2023 11:00:00 and last updated on 29/06/2022 08:15:49. Monographs are reviewed and/or updated multiple times per month and at least once per year.
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