September 12, 2023

Valerian Root (Valeriana officinalis)

Valerian root (Valeriana officinalis) is a popular herbal supplement that's often taken for anxiety and insomnia. It's thought to work in the brain by boosting levels of a chemical called gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA, which helps calm nerves and relax muscles.

Some people find valerian root helps them sleep better, though most research is anecdotal and more rigorous studies are needed. However, some people experience grogginess when they wake up after taking valerian root for sleep, which is sometimes called a "Valeriean hangover."

The oil from valerian roots has a woody and balsamic scent that blends well with other oils like patchouli, oakmoss, and costus in musky chypre perfume formulations. It also adds a distinctive aroma to scented candles and incense. It's used in commercial flavoring as well, especially in tobacco and root beer flavors.

When smoked, valerian root has a sharp odor that's usually combined with other herbs like hops (Humulus lupulus), lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), and skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora). Some people use it in homemade tinctures as a way to mask the odor. It may interact with certain medications, including antidepressants, so it's best to speak with a doctor before trying it if you're on other medication or supplements.

Valerian root may also cause drowsiness, so it's important not to drive or operate machinery after using it. It's also not recommended for children under 18 years old. Adding it to tea is a common way to take the herb, but you should be careful about how much you add and let the tea steep for at least 10 minutes. For capsules and extracts, dosage recommendations vary based on the method of extraction and any additional ingredients.


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