Sometimes you just do not want to take a prescription pill to get through anxiety or insomnia. There are often concerns of side effects especially when every pharmaceutical television ad cites potentially dangerous scenarios. Yet, there is also concern when taking a natural remedy as there can be safety issues surrounding these as well. However, if guided by a trained naturopathic doctor or herbalist choosing a holistic herbal remedy such as valerian root for anxiety and insomnia may allow your body to better embrace it’s healing effects.
What is Valerian Root?
It may sound like something from another planet but valerian root is actually a plant found in Europe and Asia that has been used for thousands of years for various ailments. It is linked to addressing sleep problems and disorders of the nervous system (such as anxiety) as well as digestive problems, arthritis and headaches. Valerian has been shown to affect the brain neurotransmitter gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA). This neurotransmitter regulates nerve cells resulting in an overall calming response.
What the Pros Say
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has listed valerian under GRAS (generally regarded as safe) and various research show it’s benefits. In an insomnia study evaluated by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) it was concluded that, “After 28 days, the group receiving the valerian extract showed a decrease in insomnia symptoms on all the assessment tools compared with the placebo group. The differences in improvement between valerian and placebo increased between the assessments done on days 14 and 28.”
According to LiveStrong, “Clinical trial findings published in the November 2002 issue of “Phytotherapy Research” show that valerian reduces anxiety symptoms.” and LiveScience reports that, “One study found that the combination of valerian root with St. John’s wort was more effective than the medication diazepam at reducing anxiety in patients who were treated for two weeks.”
Ingesting valerian root for anxiety and insomnia should first be cleared by your doctor as it has been linked to contraindications such as increasing the effect of certain prescription drugs; not mixing well with alcohol; negatively affecting surgical anesthesia; and should not be taken if pregnant or under three years of age without a doctor’s guidance.
There are several ways to take valerian root. As a tincture (thick liquid); powder (in capsules); or as a tea. Like many herbal remedies valerian root may need to accumulate in the system of some people so it might not begin working for several weeks. Dosage can range between 200-600 mg with the lesser being the starting point. For anxiety it can be taken four times per day and for insomnia three times per day with the last dose one to two hours before bed.
See if your doctor or professional alternative practitioner feels that you may safely benefit from valerian root for anxiety and insomnia. It could be the most natural choice you make for your overall mental and physical well being.