Valerian Root: Uses, Dosage, Safety, and Side Effects

valerian root
Valerian root and rhizome (underground stems) are used for therapeutic purposes, whereas valerian is a flowering herb that grows in Europe and Asia. It has a long history of use as a sleep aid and anxiety owing to compounds called valepotriates that have sedative effects( like turmeric milk has due to curcumin). But it may also benefit other conditions like epilepsy, migraines, and heartburn. While valerian root has been used safely for many years, there are some Health benefits and potential side effects you should be aware of before using this herbal supplement. Details regarding valerian are limited because little research has looked at valerian’s effects on various disorders. Here’s what you need to know about valerian root.

What’s valerian root?

Valerian is a perennial flowering plant that thrives in the Northern United States, Central-Eastern Canada, Europe, and Eastern Russia. It’s found in lime-rich soil around low, moist fields, marshy brushwoods, and river banks. In spring, valerian creates linear, hollow stalks and dark leafy leaves that are present at the end and hairy base. Its white-pinkish, trumpet-shaped flowers spread a sweet vanilla-and-clove aroma. It blossoms from June to August and is pollinated by bees, flies, and beetles. Valerian root is sandy gray-brown and about the size of your finger joint. But it smells like decaying cheese or stinky feet.

Valerian is also known as:
  • Valerian
  • Valeriana Officinalis (scientific Name)
  • All-heal
  • Garden heliotrope

Today, valerian is promoted for treating insomnia, anxiety, depression, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), menopause symptoms, and headaches.

What’s valerian root used for? 

The ancient Greeks and Romans used valerian root to treat:

  • Nausea
  • Gas
  • Heart pulsings
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Insomnia

The German tribes believed it could tame the wildest of animals. They also hung it outside their homes to frighten witches and devils. Hertha, a Teutonic witch-goddess, rode a deer crowned with hops and used a stem of valerian as a lash. During the Middle Ages, astrological botanist Nicholas Culpeper simmered valerian root with raisins, licorice, and aniseed. He used the tonic to cure the bubonic plague and chest congestion. In 1620, valerian root was carried to North America on the Mayflower. During World War I and II, it was used to reduce stress caused by air attacks. It was also mixed with hops and kava-kava to treat shell-shocked frontline troops. 


It is a powerful herb used since ancient times to help people relax and fall asleep. Valerian works by acting on the GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric acid) receptors in your brain to induce relaxation, making it an ideal supplement for those with anxiety or insomnia who want to sleep better at night. The active compounds in valerian plants are called valepotriates, which act as sedatives at low doses and stimulants at higher doses.

Valerian Uses & Effectiveness

Consuming valerian root extract 300-600 mg by mouth daily appears to improve sleep quality. It is possibly effective for treating Insomnia symptoms. For notice effects, continue its usage for up to 4 weeks.

There is welfare in consuming valerian for several other purposes, but it requires more reliable data to say whether it could help.

It’s generally used in various products containing other soothing herbs, such as hops, passion flowers, and lemon balms.


The evidence is inconsistent on whether valerian root can help with sleep issues. The US Academy of Sleep Medicine recommended against using valerian for chronic insomnia in adults in a 2017 clinical trial. Also, two small studies suggested valerian root can help with menopausal symptoms, but there are not enough studies to know for sure. Moreso, no evidence to date draw conclusions about whether valerian is beneficial for anxiety, depression, premenstrual syndrome, menstrual cramps, stress, or other health conditions.

Valerian Dosage

The recommended valerian root dosage is 300-600mg daily, taken in the evening. This is a relatively small amount and can be found in most forms of valerian. However, taking valerian as a sleep aid may be worth taking more than this amount to see if it helps you fall asleep
in less time.

The best way to find out what works best for your body is through trial-and-error experimentation over time until you find what works best for you! When you first begin taking valerian, please start with the lower end of this range (300mg) and work your way up to see how your body responds to it. Some people find that they only need 200mg per day, while others need closer to 600mg a day.

Safety & Precautions

  • It is safe for short-term use.
  • Long-term use of this root might induce dependence. Quitting valerian root after the long term can provoke withdrawal symptoms. Talk with a healthcare provider to know what dose is helpful for a specific condition you are experiencing.
  • Stop using valerian root extracts at least two weeks before a planned surgery because the combined effects of valerian and anesthesia can be harmful as they slow down the central nervous system (CNS).
  • Valerian can interact with other drugs, including certain heart medications and blood thinners, so talk to your doctor before taking it if you’re on these medications.
  • Valerian root is considered safe when taken along with other medications by mouth. It can help with sleep disorders, but you should be careful to use it safely. It may cause drowsiness or dizziness in some people. Therefore, you should not use it while driving or operating heavy machinery. Because it is a natural sedative that can help promote the natural chemicals in your body that make you feel calm and relaxed.


In order to avoid withdrawal symptoms for long-term usage, it’s best to decrease the dose gradually over a week or two before quitting altogether.

Side Effects It May Have

Many people use valerian with no side effects. But for some, the herb may cause headaches, dizziness, or stomach upset. It can also cause diarrhea in people who have liver problems.
Little is known about its safety if you have any of these conditions:

  • are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • have kidney disease
  • have a bleeding disorder (such as hemophilia)

So, always stay on the safe side and avoid use.


Valerian root is a safe overall and effective herbal remedy that may help you sleep better. It’s important to note that it does not cause severe side effects associated with taking this supplement. It can interact with certain medications and other herbs. If you have any questions about using valerian in your regimen, speak to your doctor before taking action!


Taiba Tariq

Taiba Tariq is a healthcare nutrition hobbyist, enthusiastic about researching healthcare & skincare news while analyzing the latest and science-backed evidence about nutrition, skin care, and supplements. She wants to help people regain their beauty, health, and well-being through natural means.

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