Valerian Root (Valeriana officinalis (Linn.)
Uses in herbal, tinctures and in combination with diet, exercise and other herbs
- Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder
- Cramps (stomach & menstrual)
? Irritable bowel syndrome
? Migraine headache
? Seizure disorders
? Sleep disorders (with nervousness & restlessness)
Common Names: Valerian Root, Valerian, Phu (Galen), Tobacco Root, Garden Heliotrope, All-Heal, Great Wild Valerian, Amantilla, and Setwall
Valerian is a hardy perennial flowering plant with sweet-smelling pink or white flowers. The name Valerian means, “to be strong or healthy” in Latin.
Valerian often used for its sedative properties to treat insomnia.
Preparation Methods: Valerian is often prepared in tea form, do not prepare it with boiling water, as this may destroy some of the lighter oils. Best way to take Valerian is either in the fresh herb or as an essential oil.
How does Valerian work in the body?
Valerian works with the GABAA receptors in the brain. In a quality extract of valerian root there usually is GABA present to induce release of GABA in synaptosomes and may also inhibit GABA reuptake (for more details visit the CAM site). Common Names: Valerian Root, Valerian, Tobacco Root, Garden Heliotrope, All-heal
Introduction to Valerian:
Valerian is a hardy perennial flowering plant with sweet-smelling pink or white flowers. The name Valerian means, “to be strong or healthy” in Latin, and this translation is generally regarded to refer to its medicinal use, though it is suggested that it also refers to the strong odor.
Valerian is native to Europe, South Africa, and parts of Asia and was introduced to North America. Ancient Greeks used the plant for a variety of medical disorders ranging from liver problems, digestive ailments, and urinary tract disorders to nausea and insomnia. Valerian has also been used for centuries for nervous conditions and has been traditionally used for sleeplessness, epilepsy, nervousness, hysteria and as a diuretic.
The herb was used in Germany for unruly children, as a coffee substitute by German women, and as a condiment in medieval times, and as a perfume in the 16th century. It has had many other uses across numerous cultures throughout the centuries.
Valerian has often been used in complementary and alternative medicine for its sedative properties. It has been recommended for epilepsy but that has not been supported by modern research. Currently, the herb is mainly used as a remedy for insomnia.
Preparation Methods: The volatile oils in valerian are extremely pungent, somewhat like aged cheese or milk. Valerian is often prepared in tea form, and in doing so it should not be prepared with boiling water, as this may drive off the lighter oils. As well, valerian is commonly taken as a dietary supplement, often in tablet or capsule form.
Pharmacology and Mechanisms of Action:
Valerian has an affinity for GABA A receptors, likely due to the relatively high GABA content in valerian itself. The amount of GABA present in valerian extract is sufficient to induce release of GABA in synaptosomes and may also inhibit GABA reuptake.
Discontinue use of Valerian Root if?
Any of these side effects appear: headache, gastrointestinal discomfort, drowsiness, and dizziness or sleep difficulty.
Valerian’s safety with children is not determined. It should not be administered without the supervision of a professional healthcare provider.
Valerian Root and prescription drugs?
Do not take Valerian Root in combination with prescription medications such as benzodiazepines, SSRIs, SNRIs or MAOIs.
Do not take Valerian Root if you are pregnant or nursing
Do not operate vehicles or heavy machinery until you know how Valerian Root affects you
Consult with your prescribing doctor before making any changes or additions to your current treatment plan.
ASK your physician first before starting Valerian.
Do not take Valerian Root if you are pregnant or nursing.
Do not operate vehicles or heavy machinery until you know how Valerian Root affects you
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The lavenders belong to the mint family, Lamiaceae. The true lavender (L. officinalis) has grayish foliage and small blue or pale purplish flowers (white in one variety). They are lanceolate, opposite, and sessile, and grow from a branched stem. The bark is gray and flaky. The herb thrives in full sun and poor soil. Lavender is a heavily branched, short shrub that grows to a height of roughly 60 centimeters. Its broad rootstock bears woody branches with erect, rod-like, leafy, green shoots. A silvery down covers the gray-green narrow leaves, which are oblong and tapered, attached directly at the base, and curled spirally. The two-inch leaves are opposite and somewhat velvety and silvery gray in color with the exception of L. viridis which has green leaves. Some varieties have flowers of pale pink, dark purple, white, or magenta and are harvested toward the end of flowering season when the petals have begun to fade. Lavender’s volatile oil is best when extracted from flowers picked before they reach maximum bloom and following a long period of hot and dry temperatures.
Potential health benefits of lavender
- Refreshes and tones the skin, and soothes the nerves.
- Reduces or heals depression, especially when it is related to stress.
- Improves sleep quality
- Promotes relaxation,
- Lifts mood in people suffering from sleep disorders.
- Natural antiseptic and astringent
- Soothes and heals insect bites using an infusion.
- Antiseptic for common bacteria such as typhoid, diphtheria, streptococcus, and pneumococcus.
- Soothes and protects sunburned skin
- Helps prevent infection in blisters that often accompany more severe sunburns and other burns or
- Healing on open wounds to speed healing. It can be applied undiluted.
- Gently calms the nerves and helps reduce trapped gas if applied over the gassy area..
- Reduces stress headaches when rubbed on the temples, or sniffed like smelling salts
- Reduces oily skin by taking and mixing one – three drops into one cup of white vinegar
- Promotes healing of rashes, bruises, minor cuts and sores
Although side effects are rare, some individuals may develop an allergic reaction to lavender. Excessive intake (several times more than listed above) may cause drowsiness. Nausea, vomiting, headache, and chills have also been reported in some individuals following inhalation or absorption of lavender through the skin. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid using lavender, as it is a uterine stimulant. Lavender contains limonene which can cause photo sensitivity, especially when perfumes and cosmetics are used containing lavender oil. Direct exposure to undiluted preparations generally should be avoided. A July 1, 2006 article in Science News stated that lavender oil had been implicated in abnormal development of the breasts in young boys. Boys and girls are particularly sensitive to estrogenic and androgenic compounds because their sex hormone levels are low prior to puberty.There are identified hormonally active compounds in lavender oil which may be contributing to the increase incidence of early breast development in girls and enlarged breasts in boys.
Lavender’s active ingredients
Lavender oil contains the natural perillyl alcohol, linalool. Its ketones help relieve pain by calming the nerves. Ketones build new skin tissues and reduce inflammation. They also have a sleep-inducing effect. Ketones can be toxic, so lavender containing an amount above 35 percent should be avoided; esters ease swelling and soreness, prevent muscle spasms, fight fungal infections and prevent scarring. They also help to regulate your moods, preventing you from experiencing depression and hysteria.
As an oil, can be applied directly to irritated skin. As massage oil, lavender oil should first be diluted with grapeseed, olive or almond oil, using 1/3 ratio of drops of lavender oil to carrier oil is suggested. Lavender helps reduce inflammation and promotes healing of acne rashes, bruises, minor cuts and sores. In shampoos, lavender helps prevent dandruff. It relaxes muscles and eases tension. Its strong antiseptic properties effectively heal conditions such as acne or sunburn. For skin problems such as eczema and psoriasis, add 2 drops of the oil to a bland vegetable or olive oil and use as an oil on the skin. Sore feet can be relieved by soaking a few drops of lavender in your foot bath.
A warm lavender compress placed on the chest can help congestion, while breathing in the steam of lavender (place the hot lavender tea in a bowl and cover your head with a towel) helps breathing. Warm lavender tea can be used as a compress for chest congestion.
Drunk as a tea, lavender is a natural treatment for anxiety and headaches. It also soothes tummy upsets and flatulence, and cold lavender tea can be used as an effective mouthwash.
Lavender’s calming properties are also well known. When you are stressed, there is nothing as soothing as soaking in a lavender scented bath. While you are cleansing and stimulating your skin, you will find your cares of the day just drift away. One teaspoon of the actual flowers boiled in a pint of water can be used as a drink for sedative, calming uses.
To help you sleep, stuff a small pillow with dried lavender leaves and buds. then gently place this inside your pillow and allow lavender’s soothing aroma to calm your nerves which can lull you to sleep.
But the one place you may never have thought to use lavender is in the kitchen – both as a cleanser and as a cooking ingredient! Add lavender oil to your favorite cleaner to give it more cleaning power, and to fill your kitchen with a fresh fragrance. When you mop the floor, sprinkle lavender oil in the water and you will have a sweet smelling antiseptic mop.
The oil varies with the age of the flower it was made from; the earlier the flower is picked tends to be thought the more valuable the oil will be.