Valerian root has been used for more than 1,000 years for its calming qualities, and recent research has confirmed its efficacy and safety as a mild tranquilizer and sleep aid. For sufferers of insomnia, valerian has been found to hasten the onset of sleep, improve sleep quality and reduce nighttime awakenings. Unlike barbiturates or benzodiazepines, prescribed amounts leave no morning grogginess and do not interfere with the vivid dreaming sleep known as REM sleep. It is not habit-forming and produces no withdrawal symptoms when discontinued. The plant is a hardy perennial that reaches a height of about 5 feet. As the roots dry, they develop an unpleasant odor compared by one herbalist to that of dirty socks. Most people add sugar or honey to make valerian tea more palatable.
Taken internally for:
Over the counter:
Valerian is widely available dried or as capsules, tinctures and teas.
2 tsp. dried, chopped root steeped in 1 cup boiling water, then allowed to stand 8 to 12 hours.