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About Mind/Body Consultant Services & Protocols

Protocols: Valerian Root (Valenana officinalis L)


Sleep Aid

Description: Large perennial plant whose roots contain essential oil with monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes (valerenic acids). Used for several centuries as a sedative.

Method of Action: May work like a benzodiazapine synthetic drug by enhancing the activity of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). CNS depressant effects. May also act upon 5-HTa receptors. Tends to cause decrease in progesterone (with corresponding reduction in PMS-related anxiety). Active ingredients: valepotriates and sesquiterpenes.

Indications and Usage: Benzodiazapine detoxification: Insomnia (Produces shortened sleep latency, lower frequency of waking during the night and reduced nighttime motor activity.); Restlessness; Anxiety (questionable); Pre-Menstrual Syndrome; Depression; Migraine Headache; Hyperactivity. In studies valerian decreased sleep latency without change in sleep stages or electroencephalographic spectra. Has pronounced sedative properties and weak anticonvulsant effects. Can be combined with chamomile, lemon balm, passion flower and hops. Should not be combined with Kava Kava.

Contraindications: Should not be used concomitantly with barbiturates, alcohol or depressant drugs because excessive sedation may occur. Likewise, should not be combined with Kava Kava. Do not use product with isolated valepotraites as this will act as psychostimulant and may increase anxiety. Do not use this product if you are pregnant or lactating without first seeking advice from your physician.

Dosage and Administration: Dosing of valerian in the treatment of insomnia is 300 to 500 mg of standardized extract (or 2-3 grams of herb per cup) at bedtime. The extract should contain at least 0.5 percent essential oil. For anxiety a 200 to 300 mg dose can be added in the morning. Valerian can be used as a tea, tincture, or capsules. The dosing for the tincture starts at 2.5 ml to 5 ml per dose and is titrated upward to the desired effect.

Clinical Effect In: Two to three weeks.

Adverse Reactions: Can have a paradoxical effect of increasing agitation if given in too high a dosage. Does not affect alertness, driving ability, or arousal. Does not potentiate the effects of alcohol. Do not use with other over-the-counter, or prescription sleep aids. One component of this drug is cytotoxic but no evidence of liver damage has been found even with large doses. Can cause headache, restlessness, insomnia and heart function disorders with high-dose, long-term use. During in vitro testing found to inactivate p450 liver enzymes resulting in diminished control cyochrome (isozymes 2E1 and 4A) activity. If you suspect that an herb or other supplement is making you sick, call the FDA's MedWatch hotline at 800-332-1088 or contact the agency via its website at http://www.fda.gov/medwatch.

Known Interactive Effects: Can be combined with chamomile, lemon balm, passion flower and hops. Should not be combined with Kava Kava. Do not take with sedatives, or alcohol. Do not take with kava. Tannin complex in this product may interfere with iron absorption and should be used with caution by patients being treated for iron deficiency. Can cause liver damage in high doses.

Additional Considerations: Will not cause impaired memory, concentration, or daytime drowsiness. Slow acting so not useful in emergent situations. The FDA rates valerian as GRAS (generally regarded as safe).

Warnings: The information above is provided for educational purposes and may not be construed as a medical prescription or as a substitute for the advice of your physician. Do not use this product without first consulting your physician especially if you are pregnant or lactating. Be advised that some herbs and dietary supplements can cause severe allergic reactions in some individuals and may also have an adverse result in conjunction with other medications, or treatments. You should regularly consult your physician in matters regarding your health and particularly in respect to symptoms and conditions which may require diagnosis or medical attention. Reevaluate use of this product after 6 months.

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