For centuries, Valerian has been used as the herbal sleep aid of choice. Valerian calms the nervous system and relaxes the mind, making it an ideal herb to induce and maintain sleep.
Valerian is a perennial plant native to areas of Europe and Asia. It grows up to 1.2 meters in height and produces clusters of sweet smelling trumpet shaped flowers. The roots are used for medicinal purposes and can be used both fresh and dried. When dried, the roots produce a strong odor, somewhat reminiscent of sweaty socks.
Valerian has been used medicinally since the times of Ancient Rome, where it was used to treat anxiety, tension headaches, digestive problems and sleeping disorders. Still today, valerian is used as a herbal sedative for the same ailments. Scientific research into Valerian has confirmed that it can reduce anxiety and produce drowsiness (aiding sleep); although the actual chemical compounds behind these effects are still not fully understood. The effects of valerian are likely to be the result of a synergistic interaction among all the chemical compounds, rather than the result of one single chemical. Valerian has been shown to increase the body’s supply of GABA neurotransmitters, although the mechanism by which this is achieved is unknown.