Already in ancient Greece valerian was considered a universal medicinal plant, for example, helped against indigestion. And even in our latitudes the plant has a tradition as a medicinal herb. It was used against a variety of conditions such as eye diseases. The soothing and sleep-inducing effects of the valerian, however, were discovered by physicians only at the end of the 18th century.
Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) grows in Europe and Asia. At the ideal location (moist forest soils), the medicinal plant grows up to 1.80 meters high and blooms in lush, whitish-pink umbels. Valerian already took Grandmother when she was restless and nervous.
Today, science also knows why this medicinal plant has soothing effects: the valeric acids contained in the valerian prevent the brain from degrading a calming neurotransmitter (gamma-aminobutyric acid, GABA) and even increase its secretion. Chemical sedatives (diazepam, eg Valium®) also work by the same mechanism.
The effect comes from the root
In medicine, an extract of valerian root is obtained whose ingredients inhibit acting on messenger substances in the central nervous system. This creates a relaxing and relaxing effect. Valerian is therefore not only used for sleep problems. Even with test anxiety or complaints that go into spasm, the effect unfolds. Recent studies have shown that the medicinal plant relieves nervousness, but can not cure anxiety disorders.
For the soothing effect is not a single ingredient, but the interaction of the various substances in the essential oils of valerian root responsible. The ingredients are offered in the form of oral products, tea, tinctures or bath products.
Notes on the use of valerian
In general, the products are only effective if they are taken regularly over a period of two or more weeks. Even children can benefit from the calming effect. In any case, however: Always speak with your doctor if persistent insomnia, anxiety or nervousness. He can recommend you the appropriate medications and therapies.
For the sleep-inducing effect, take valerian half an hour before bedtime. In restlessness, the valerian root is drunk throughout the day, for example as a tea.
Great differences in quality in the market
The quality of valerian supplements can be very different. Valerian preparations in Germany are subject to the authorization requirement of the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM) if declared as a medicinal product (if it is a finished medicinal product). Valerian must not be allowed as a food additive; There is therefore no guarantee of quality in this area.
Possible side effects of valerian
Valerian is recommended for insomnia because it is very well tolerated and, unlike many synthetic sleep aids, does not lead to dependence. Nevertheless, valerian sleeping tablets or similar preparations can also lead to mild discomfort. These side effects can occur if the product is taken over a long period of time. For example, morning drowsiness, headaches, gastrointestinal problems, and insomnia may be present.
Valerian also enhances the calming effects of other tranquilizers such as diazepam. Also, the effect of alcohol or other intoxicants can be enhanced by the valerian.