Natural Stress Relief: Valerian

One of the most relaxing herbs, valerian (Valeriana officinalis) is a great way to ease tension in stressful times.


Native to Europe and northern Asia, it grows wild in damp conditions and, in addition to reducing tension and anxiety, it has been used to relieve migraines, ease period pains and lower blood pressure.

During the second world war, it was taken after air raids in Europe to help prevent shell shock (now known as post traumatic stress disorder). In 1989, German researchers found that valerian sedates by binding with benzodiazepine receptors and other receptors in the central nervous system and that the weakness of the bond explains valerian's non-addictive nature. Probably for this reason, it is also used to help people withdraw from benzodiazepines such as valium.

Clinical research also supports valerian's use to relieve insomnia and improve sleep quality. At the right dose, it can shorten wakefulness, reduce night awakenings, improve sleep efficiency, and increase dream recall - without causing the hangover caused by some sleeping tablets.

I have found it to be most useful for people when taken short term to get through a particularly stressful time- and that it is best to limit its use to 6 weeks.

Valerian Tea, Tablets & Tinctures


Valerian tea can be made by pouring a cup of boiling water on to 1-2 teaspoons of the roots and infusing for 10 – 15 minutes. Take one cup as needed (a maximum of 4 cups a day). Herbal tablets and tinctures are also available. It is often combined with other herbs that strengthen the nervous system (nervines) such as passionflower, skullcap, hops and zizyphus.

Side effects

Valerian is recognised as generally safe but can cause some mild side effects in some people such as drowsiness and so is best not taken with alcohol or before driving or operating machinery. A few individuals find valerian stimulating and should avoid its use.

Interaction with medications

Do seek advice from a health care professional before taking valerian if you are on medication- and please read the disclaimer at the bottom of this page. If you would like to find out more about how natural ways to relieve stress, we can meet for a free 15 minute health chat - or for a one hour wellness review.

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Sarah Isaacs, Naturopath

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info@naturalhealthfocus.com.au

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DISCLAIMER:

If you have any medical conditions, are taking prescription drugs or are feeling unwell, please consult a health care professional before taking any of the advice on this website. This advice does not replace medical treatment.
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