Valerian (Valeriana Officinalis), also called Tagar, is brain tonic, stress reliever, antispasmodic, hypnotic and mild sedative in action. Due to these characteristics, it is highly used in herbal medicines for diseases related to brain, mind and muscles.
Valerian or Tagar has two main variety used for medicinal purposes.
- True Valerian (Valeriana Officinalis)
- Indian Valerian (Valeriana Wallichii)
Both valerians work in similar ways and share similar medicinal properties. In this article, we will talk about both species.
|Scientific Name||Valeriana Officinalis|
|Plant Family||Valerianaceae (Valerians)|
Botanical Classification (Taxonomy)
|Infra Kingdom||STREPTOPHYTA (land plants)|
|Division||TRACHEOPHYTA (TRACHEOPHYTES or Vascular Plants)|
|Sub Division||SPERMATOPHYTINA (SPERMATOPHYTES or Seed Plants)|
|Species||Valeriana Officinalis L. (Garden Valerian or Garden Heliotrope)Valeriana Wallichii (Indian Valerian)|
The roots of Tagar and valerian species are used for medicinal purposes. Roots contain volatile oil and phyto-chemicals, which are responsible for its medicinal value.
Phytochemistry (Active Constituents)
The following compounds are present in valerian.
IRIDOIDS & VALEPOTRIATES
- GAMMA-AMINOBUTYRIC ACID (GABA)
- ISOVALERIC ACID
Volatile Oil contains following SESQUITERPENES
- VALERENIC ACID
- ACETOXYVALERENIC ACID
- HYDROXYVALERENIC ACID
Medicinal Properties & Action
Valerian (Tagar) has following healing properties and medicinal action.
- Reduces body odor
- Digestive stimulant
- Antispasmodic and Muscle relaxant
Valerian is helpful in following health conditions.
- Mental Fatigue
- Depressive feelings
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)
- Bad body odor
Mind, Brain & Nerves
- Insomnia and sleeping disorders (greatly beneficial)
- Mental stress
- Memory loss (mild effects)
- Headache (more beneficial in headache, which is mild, dull and continuous steady pain. It may not help with throbbing pain and severe headache.)
- Migraine (with feeling of nausea, dull pain, and continuous steady headache)
- As a brain tonic
- Emotional stress
- Unmanageable emotional excesses
- Hypochondria (fear of illness)
- Tremors (mildly effective and may require mixing its root powder with other herbs)
- Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Some people also use Tagar in excitability, but we have not found it effective in such cases.
- Loss of appetite associated with mental illness
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Stomach Upset
- Intestinal Gas
Muscle, Bones & Joints
- Muscle spasm (antispasmodic)
- Muscular pain
- Joint pain (mild anti-inflammatory action)
- Menstrual cramps (Painful periods or dysmenorrhea)
- Anxiety associated with menopause
- Amenorrhea (Mild Action)
We have not found it effective in hot flashes that occur in menopause. Licorice, Bacopa Monnieri (Brahmi), Centella Asiatica (Gotu Kola) work better than valerian in menopause.
Valerian Side Effects
Valerian (Tagar) is LIKELY SAFE in recommended therapeutic dosage. However, you should use it for a short period (one to three months). The efficacy and safety of long-term use is not yet established.
A few side effects of valerian are.
- Headache (common)
Headache occurs when it is used in patients with history of severe headache, throbbing pain and acute cases. It may work well when used in mild and dull headache.
According to ayurveda, Valerian is effective in KAPHA and VATA type people. It produces heat in the body after ingestion. Therefore, people with burning sensation, heat sensation in the feet, heartburn, acidity, ulcer, ulcerative colitis should avoid using it. It may aggravate these problems.
Pregnancy & Breastfeeding
According to ayurveda, you should not use Tagar in pregnancy and breastfeeding. It may induce uterine stimulation and contractions. The more information about its safety in pregnancy and breastfeeding is yet unknown. Therefore, you should avoid its use in pregnancy and breastfeeding.
The main contraindications are.
- Before and after surgery Tagar may interact with Anesthetic medicines.
- Ulcerative colitis It may aggravate bleeding.
- Ulcer, heartburn, acidity It may increases symptoms of these diseases
Other Common Names:The other common names for the herb valerian are Blessed Herb, Capon's Tail, English Valerian, Garden Heliotrope, German Valerian, Great Wild Valerian, Heliotrope, Setwall, Tagara, Valerian, Vandalroot and Vermont Valerian.
RangeThe plant is found throughout Europe and Northern Asia, and is common in England Two species of Valerian, Valeriana officinalis and V. dioica, are indigenous in Britain, while a third, V. pyrenaica, is naturalized in some parts. The genus comprises about species, which are widely distributed in the temperate parts of the world.
HabitatThis herb thrives best in marshy thickets and on the borders of ditches and rivers. valerian grows wild in damp conditions. Valerian does well in all ordinary soils, but prefers rich, heavy loam, well supplied with moisture.
CultivationThe wild plants are collected from local woods and transplanted to the prepared land. Generally the young flowering plants given off by the perennial rhizomes of old plants which develop towards the close of summer are given preference. These should be set 1 foot apart in rows, 2 or 3 feet apart. The soil should first be treated with farmyard manure, and after planting it is well to give liquid manure from time to time, as well as plenty of water. The soil must be well manured to secure a good crop. Weeding requires considerable attention.
Propagation may also be by seed, either sown when ripe in cold frames, or in March in gentle heat, or in the open in April. In the first two cases, transplant in May to permanent quarters. But to ensure the best alkaloidal percentage, it is best to transplant and cultivate the daughter plants of the wild Valerian. The flowering tops must be cut off as they appear, thus enabling the better development of the rhizome. Many of the young plants do not flower in the first year, but produce a luxuriant crop of leaves, and yield rhizome of good quality in the autumn.
Flowering SeasonThe flowers of the valerian are in full bloom in late spring.
Pests and DiseasesValerian succumbed to disease that is exacerbated by moisture and mulch retains too much water.Rarely it is been affected by plant feeding insects and mites.
|The roots and rhizome are the most commonly used part of the valerian herb.|
Medicinal and Commercial Applications
- It is excellent for headaches, trembling, palpitations, hysteric complaints and the vapours.
- It is used by Eastern nations to aromatize their baths.
- It is used in treating cramps.
- Valerian is a powerful nervine, stimulant, carminative and antispasmodic.
- It has a remarkable influence on the cerebro-spinal system, and is used as a sedative. The drug allays pain and promotes sleep. It is of especial use and benefit to those suffering from nervous overstrains.
- Oil of Valerian is employed to a considerable extent on the Continent as a popular remedy for cholera, in the form of cholera drops, and also to a certain extent in soap perfumery.
- Valerian helps in strengthening the eyesight, by giving energy to the optic nerve.
- It is used as an anti-convulsant in epilepsy.
- Valerian has been used in the treatment of cardiac palpitations.
- Valerian is beneficial for almost any stress-related condition, and, in general, has a calming, rather than directly sedative, effect on the mind.
- Many symptoms of anxiety, including tremors, panic, palpitations, and sweating, can be relieved with valerian.
- Valerian relaxes over contracted muscles, and is helpful for shoulder and neck tension, asthma, colic, irritable bowel syndrome, muscle spasms, and menstrual pain.
Folklore and Myths'Men who begin to fight and when you wish to stop them, give to them the juice of Amantilla id est Valeriana and peace will be made immediately. Valerian is sedative to humans, but excites both cats and mice. In the legend of the Pied Piper of Hamlin, he baited the rodents with valerian to drive them out of the city. The flowers are used in charm bags to encourage love, protection and sleep.
What Is Valerian Root?
Valerian, also known as Valeriana officinalis, is a flowering plant native to Europe and Asia. The root of the plant has long been used as a herbal remedy to treat insomnia. The use of valerian root dates back to the Greek and Roman Empires and was noted by Hippocrates to treat headaches, nervousness, trembling, and heart palpitations.
Valerian contains a substance known as valerenic acid that is believed to affect gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors in the brain. It is believed that one of the purposes of GABA is to control fear or anxiety experienced when nerve cells are overexcited. By doing so, valerian may act as a mild sedative and anxiolytic (anxiety-reducing drug).
Also Known As
- Garden heliotrope
- Tagar (in Ayurvedic medicine)
- Xie cao (in traditional Chinese medicine)
Valerian is available in teas, extracts, tinctures, capsules, tablets, and essential oils. Valerian extract and essential oils are also used as a flavoring in foods and beverages.
What Is Valerian Root Used For?
Alternative healthcare providers believe that valerian root can treat a variety of health conditions, including insomnia, anxiety, headaches, digestive problems, menopause symptoms, and post-exercise muscle pain and fatigue. The evidence supporting these claims is generally mixed.
Here is a look at some of the more common uses of valerian root:
Valerian root is probably best known as a remedy for insomnia. Despite its popularity among consumers, there is little evidence that it can promote sleep or improve the quality of sleep.
A review of studies in Sleep Medicine Reviews concluded that valerian root (or similar "calming" herbs like chamomile or kava) had no discernable impact on sleep in 1, adults with insomnia.
Valerian root is touted by some as a safe and natural alternative to prescription anxiety drugs, most especially those like Xanax (alprazolam), Klonopin (clonazepam), Valium (diazepam), and Ativan (lorazepam) that act on GABA receptors.
There is some evidence, albeit weak, to support these claims. Valerenic acid appears to act on receptors in a way that enhances GABA transmission but without the pronounced sedative effects of a drug like Valium. This may benefit people on treatment for anxiety and other mood disorders.
A review from Harvard Medical School contends that of 12 traditional herbs used to treat anxiety (including hops, gotu kola, and gingko), valerian was the "most promising candidate" for treating anxiety associated with bipolar disorder.
Valerian root may be useful in minimizing hot flashes commonly affecting women during menopause. The exact mechanism of action is unknown since valerian doesn't appear to directly influence hormone levels.
A study from Iran involving 68 women with menopause reported that valerian capsules, when taken thrice-daily in milligram doses for eight weeks, reduced the severity and frequency of hot flashes compared to a placebo.
No notable side effects were reported.
10 Simple Ways to Curb Hot Flashes
Possible Side Effects
Most clinical studies have shown that valerian root is well-tolerated and safe for short-term use. Side effects, if any, tend to be mild and may include headache, dizziness, itchiness, upset stomach, dry mouth, vivid dreams, and daytime drowsiness.
Although rare, liver damage has been known to occur, usually in response to the overuse of valerian supplements or "wild-crafted" dried root. It is not known whether the cause of the liver damage was due to valerian itself or contaminants in the product.
To avoid injury, let your healthcare provider know if you intend to use valerian root for medical purposes. Ideally, you should have your liver enzymes monitored regularly to ensure that your liver remains healthy and functioning.
Stop using valerian and call your healthcare provider immediately if you have any signs of liver impairment, including persistent fatigue, nausea, vomiting, dark urine, clay-colored stools, or jaundice (yellowing of the eyes or skin).
Valerian may cause excessive sleepiness if combined with alcohol, sedatives, some antidepressants, over-the-counter sleeping pills, or cold and flu remedies containing codeine, diphenhydramine, or doxylamine.
Due to the lack of safety research, valerian should not be used in children, pregnant women, or nursing mothers. It should also be used with extreme caution in heavy drinkers or people with liver disease.
Valerian is broken down in the liver by an enzyme known as cytochrome P (CYP). Theoretically, it could interfere with the effectiveness of medications that are also broken down by CYP, including:
- Allergy medications like Allegra (fexofenadine)
- Antifungal drugs such as Sporanox (itraconazole) or Diflucan (fluconazole)
- Cancer medications like Camptosar (irinotecan), Etopophos (etoposide), STI, Abraxane (paclitaxel), Velban (vinblastine), or Vincasar (vincristine)
- Statin drugs such as Mevacor (lovastatin) or Lipitor (atorvastatin)
Dosage and Preparation
There is no set dosage for valerian root or valerian root extracts. Most valerian capsules and tablets are formulated in doses ranging from to milligrams and are considered safe within this range.
The effects of valerian root are said to be noticeable within one to two hours. It is usually best to take a dose 30 minutes or two hours before bedtime.
To make valerian tea, add 2 to 3 grams of dried valerian root (roughly 1 to 2 teaspoons) to one cup of hot water and allow to steep for 10 to 15 minutes. Valerian tinctures and extracts can vary in concentration; as a general rule, never exceed the recommended dosage on the product label.
Valerian essential oil is mainly used for aromatherapy and is not intended for internal use. Even food-grade essential oils used for flavoring should never be taken by mouth.
What to Look For
Because herbal remedies like valerian root are largely unregulated in the United States, you need to take steps to find products that are safe and reliable.
One way to do this is by checking the label to see if the supplement has been certified by an independent agency like the U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP), ConsumerLab, and NSF International. These certifying bodies are tasked with ensuring that drugs and supplements voluntarily submitted for testing contain the active and inactive ingredients listed on the product label.
Another way to choose herbal supplements is to pick those that have been certified organic under the regulations of Organic Foods Production Act of This is especially true when buying dried "wild-crafted" root or root shavings used to make teas and tinctures.
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Frequently Asked Questions
There are some possible side effects associated with valerian root, although most of them are mild. These include headache, dizziness, itchiness, stomachache, dry mouth, vivid dreams, and drowsiness. It's rare, but liver damage has also been seen in excessive usage of valerian root supplements. Like with everything else, use in moderation to avoid the chance of side effects.
People using antidepressants should not use valerian root, as it can cause drowsiness when combined with these medications. It has a similar effect when used with alcohol, sedatives, over-the-counter sleeping pills, or certain cold and flu remedies. Worse, valerian root might interfere with the effectiveness of allergy medications, antifungal drugs, cancer medications, or statin drugs.
As a safety measure, it's always a good idea to speak to your doctor or prescriber before trying a supplement that can alter the efficacy of your medication.
Yes, valerian root is available in a pill, as a powder, or in liquid form. Some people who use valerian root have it as a tea, which requires dried valerian root to create.
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Leach MJ, Page AT. Herbal medicine for insomnia: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Sleep Medicine Reviews. ; doi/j.smrv
National Institutes of Health. Valerian.
Savage K, Firth J, Stough C, Sarris J. GABA-modulating phytomedicines for anxiety: A systematic review of preclinical and clinical evidence. Phytother Res. ;32(1) doi/ptr
Jenabi E, Shobeiri F, Hazavehei SMM, Roshanaei G. The effect of Valerian on the severity and frequency of hot flashes: A triple-blind randomized clinical trial. Women & Health. ;58(3) doi/
National Capital Poison Center. Valerian Benefits and Risks.
Kia YH, Alexander S, Dowling D, Standish R. A case of steroid-responsive valerian-associated hepatitis. Intern Med J. ;46(1) doi/imj
Serrano J. LiverTox: An online information resource and a site for case report submission on drug-induced liver injury. Clinical Liver Disease. ;4(1) doi/cld
Wanwimolruk S, Prachayasittikul V. Cytochrome P enzyme mediated herbal drug interactions (Part 1). EXCLI J. ;
American Family Physician. Valerian.
US Pharmacopeia. Dietary Supplements & Herbal Medicines.
University of Michigan Health. Valerian. Current as of 23 September,
Baek, J.; Nierenberg, A.; Kinrys, G. et al. Clinical applications of herbal medicines for anxiety and insomnia; targeting patients with bipolar disorder.Aust N Zealand J Psychiatry. (8) doi/
Botanical name:Valeriana hardwickei Family:Caprifoliaceae (Honeysuckle family)
Synonyms: Valeriana hardwickeana, Valeriana hardwickii, Valeriana elata
Medicinal uses:Indian Valerian is a well-known and frequently used medicinal herb that has a long and proven history of efficacy. It is noted especially for its effect as a tranquilliser and nervine, particularly for those people suffering from nervous overstrain. Valerian has been shown to encourage sleep, improve sleep quality and reduce blood pressure.
|Identification credit: Gajendra Singh||Photographed in Valley of Flowers, Uttarakhand.|
• Is this flower misidentified? If yes,
The flower labeled Indian Valerian is
Root in hindi valerian
For other uses, see Valerian (disambiguation).
species of flowering plant in the honeysuckle family Caprifoliaceae
Valerian (Valeriana officinalis, Caprifoliaceae) is a perennial flowering plant native to Europe and Asia. In the summer when the mature plant may have a height of metres (5ft), it bears sweetly scented pink or white flowers that attract many fly species, especially hoverflies of the genus Eristalis. It is consumed as food by the larvae of some Lepidoptera (butterfly and moth) species, including the grey pug.
Crude extract of Valerian root may have sedative and anxiolytic effects, and is commonly sold in dietary supplementcapsules to promote sleep.
Valerian has been used as a medicinal herb since at least the time of ancient Greece and Rome. Hippocrates described its properties, and Galen later prescribed it as a remedy for insomnia. In medieval Sweden, it was sometimes placed in the wedding clothes of the groom to ward off the "envy" of the elves. In the 16th century, the Anabaptist reformer Pilgram Marpeck prescribed Valerian tea for a sick woman.
John Gerard's Herball, first published in , states that his contemporaries found Valerian "excellent for those burdened and for such as be troubled with croup and other like convulsions, and also for those that are bruised with falls." He says that the dried root was valued as a medicine by the poor in the north of England and the south of Scotland, so that "no broth or pottage or physical meats be worth anything if Setewale [Valerian] be not there".
The seventeenth century astrological botanistNicholas Culpeper thought the plant was "under the influence of Mercury, and therefore hath a warming faculty." He recommended both herb and root, and said that "the root boiled with liquorice, raisons and aniseed is good for those troubled with cough. Also, it is of special value against the plague, the decoction thereof being drunk and the root smelled. The green herb being bruised and applied to the head taketh away pain and pricking thereof."
Etymology and common names
The name of the herb is derived from the personal name Valeria and the Latin verb valere (to be strong, healthy). Other names used for this plant include garden valerian (to distinguish it from other Valeriana species), garden heliotrope (although not related to Heliotropium), setwall and all-heal (which is also used for plants in the genus Stachys). Red valerian, often grown in gardens, is also sometimes referred to as "valerian", but is a different species (Centranthus ruber), from the same family but not very closely related.
Known compounds detected in Valerian include:
Because of Valerian's historical use in traditional medicine for diverse purposes, such as for sedation or pain relief, laboratory research has been directed at the GABAA receptor, a class of receptors on which benzodiazepines act.Valeric acid[clarification needed] which is responsible for the typical odor of mostly older valerian roots, does not have any sedative properties. Valproic acid, a widely prescribed anticonvulsant is a derivative of valeric acid.[clarification needed]
Valerian also contains isovaltrate, which has been shown to be an inverse agonist for adenosine A1 receptor sites. This action likely does not contribute to the herb's possible sedative effects, which would be expected from an agonist, rather than an inverse agonist, at this particular binding site. Hydrophilic extractions of the herb commonly sold over the counter, however, probably do not contain significant amounts of isovaltrate.Valerenic acid in valerian stimulates serotonin receptors as a partial agonist, including 5-HT5A which is implicated in the sleep-wake cycle.
The chief constituent of Valerian is a yellowish-green to brownish-yellow oil present in the dried root, varying in content from to %. This variation in quantity may be determined by location; a dry, stony soil yields a root richer in oil than moist, fertile soil. The volatile oils that form the active ingredient are pungent, somewhat reminiscent of well-matured cheese. Though some people remain partial to the earthy scent, others find it unpleasant, comparing the odor to that of unwashed feet.
Although valerian is a common traditional medicine used for treating insomnia, there is no good evidence it is effective for this purpose. Valerian has not been shown to be helpful in treating restless leg syndrome or anxiety.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) approved the health claim that Valerian can be used as a traditional herbal medicine to relieve mild nervous tension and to aid sleep; EMA stated that although there is insufficient evidence from clinical studies, its effectiveness as a dried extract is considered plausible.
Oral forms are available in both standardized and unstandardized forms. Standardized products may be preferable considering the wide variation of the chemicals in the dried root, as noted above. When standardized, it is done so as a percentage of valerenic acid or valeric acid.
Because the compounds in Valerian produce central nervous system depression, they should not be used with other depressants, such as ethanol (drinking alcohol), benzodiazepines, barbiturates, opiates, kava, or antihistamine drugs. Although no liver problems are normally encountered with valerian use, there have been case studies in which hepatotoxicity has been observed in apparently hypersensitive individuals following short-term use (e.g., one month).
As an unregulated product, the concentration, contents, and potential contaminants in Valerian preparations cannot be easily determined. Because of this uncertainty and the potential for toxicity in the fetus and hepatotoxicity in the mother, Valerian use is discouraged during pregnancy.
Effect on cats
Valerian root is a cat attractant in a way similar to catnip.
Valerian is unusual in having flowers with "handedness", that is, having neither radial nor bilateral symmetry.
Valerian is considered an invasive species in many jurisdictions outside its natural range, including the US state of Connecticut where it is officially banned, and in New Brunswick, Canada where it is listed as a plant of concern.
19th-century illustration of Valeriana officinalis
Illustration of V. officinalis from Atlas des plantes de France,
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- ^Isovaleramide does not appear to be a naturally occurring component of valerian plants; rather, it seems to be an artifact of the extraction process; specifically, it is produced by treating aqueous extracts of valerian with ammonia.
- ^Isovaleric acid does not appear to be a natural constituent of V. officinalis; rather, it is a breakdown product that is created during the extraction process or by enzymatic hydrolysis during (improper) storage.
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GABAA receptor positive modulators
See also:Receptor/signaling modulators • GABA receptor modulators • GABA metabolism/transport modulators
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