What is Valerian Root?
Many people have heard the term 'valerian' without fully appreciating what it actually is. In fact, valerian is a hardy perennial plant whose flower has been used historically as a 16th century perfume, and its root for its sedative and anxiolytic properties since the days of Ancient Greece. There was a time when no properly run household would be without valerian in case the lord or lady suffered sleeplessness, and since then valerian extract has been shown to offer a number of other health benefits.
Its calming properties appear to apply to your entire body, reducing stress, excitability, nervousness, headaches and a general feeling of restlessness. Valerian capsules can even be used to calm digestive problems and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The root extract is generally available in capsule form, and is regarded in the USA as a dietary or nutritional supplement that can be sold over the counter. Many people prefer to use valerian root rather than a chemical benzodiazepine sedative such as Valium.
Can't Sleep? Try Valerian Root
Valerian root has been proved through extensive testing and many centuries of successful usage to be a potent sedative and anxiolytic herbal remedy. It was commonly stored in English households during the Dark and Middle Ages to promote sleep, and has since been proved to enable deep sleep without excessive residual tiredness next morning. Not only that but valerian helps to reduce incidences of awakening during the night, and in that respect is a 'clean' soporific and sedative that appears to have none of the sleep latency that is an undesirable feature of most other sedatives such as the benzodiazepines.
Valerian has been a common sedative from Ancient Greece to Native Americans to traditional Indian Ayurvedic medicine, where it was also used for a number of other purposes such as in the treatment of nervous, respiratory and digestive disorders. However, today it used largely as an inexpensive over-the-counter sedative and if you can't sleep, the try valerian root in the form of capsules - but avoid giving it to the kids since, like many natural remedies, its effects on small children are unknown.