- Indications with possible efficacy:
Insomnia (popular use)
- Indications with possible, but poorly documented efficacy:
- Also used for these other indications, but with no proof of efficacy:
- Risk of Drug Interactions: Low
- Adverse Effects: Not Frequent
Part of the plant used: roots and rhizomes
Valerian is a perennial plant indigenous to Europe and North America. It contains valepotriate and valerenic acid, substances exclusive to valerian, which are thought to be responsible for its medicinal properties. Most standardized products contain only valerenic acid (0.8% extracts), but products vary widely and are not uniform in content.
Direction of use
Valerian has been shown effective to treat nervous states. It appears to improve the quality of sleep by decreasing the onset and increasing the duration of sleep. Its effects appear to be dose-related. Two to four weeks of used may be necessary to reach its full effect.
Standardized extract (0,8 to 1% of valeric acid) - 400 to 900 mg ½ to 2 hours before bedtime
Tea - 2 to 3 grams root per cup, in the evening
Tincture - 4 to 6 mL, in the evening
- Nervous states:
To relieve nervousness and anxiety.
Standardized extract (0,8 to 1% of valeric acid) - 200 to 400 mg per dose 3 or 4 divided doses
Tea - 2 to 3 grams root per cup, one or several times a day
Tincture - 1 to 3 mL, one or several times a day
There is insufficient reliable information to conclude that kava is effective in any other indication.
- Side effects
Valerian is not associated with any specific toxicity. Adverse effects are not frequent, but some users may experience residual drowsiness, headaches, excitation, discomfort, mild gastrointestinal discomfort, and cardiac disturbances.
Because of its drowziness, it is not recommended to drive a vehicle.
In theory, valerian may increase the sedative effect of alcohol, barbiturates, benzodiazepines and other sedatives. Before taking valerian, check with your pharmacist to make sure that there are no interactions with your regular medication.
- Pregnancy and lactation
Since there is no safety data available concerning its use during pregnancy and breast-feeding, pregnant and lactating women should not use valerian.
In 2004, Canada adopted new regulations that control the manufacturing, packaging, labeling and importing of natural health products. The new regulations also include an adverse reaction reporting system. Products that conform to the regulation's criteria are identified with a natural product number (NPN) and can be legally sold in Canada. This number indicates that the product meets specific criteria for safety and purity, not that it is effective for any indication.
Medicinal plant contents vary naturally from plant to plant - just as fruits from the same package may vary in taste and texture. There is no standard to measure the active content of each plant. Thus, efficacy of natural products should be expected to vary from brand to brand as well as from bottle to bottle of the same brand.
For more information about the Natural Health Products Regulations, or to check if a product has been assessed, visit the Health Canada website at www.hc-sc.gc.ca/dhp-mps/prodnatur/index-eng.php.
- Blumethal M et al. The Complete German Commission E monographs, 1998
- Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, Therapeutic Research Faculty, 2010
- Lininger S. et Al. The Natural Pharmacy, Prima Health, 1998
- Barnes J. et Al. Herbal Medicines, 2nd edition, Pharmaceutical Press, 2002
- Pierce Andrea, Practical Guide to Natural Medicines, 1999
- Passeportsanté.net. Valériane. www.passeportsante.net
- Taylor J. CE: Phytomedicinals: Uses, precautions, and drug interactions. Drug Topics 2003;1:79
- Rotblatt M. et Ziment I. Evidence-Based Herbal Medicine, Hanley & Belfus, 2002
- Natural Therapeutics Pocket Guide, 2000-2001
- The Review of Natural Products, 6th Edition, 2010
- Health Canada, Natural Products Database
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The patient information leaflets are provided by Vigilance Santé Inc. This content is for information purposes only and does not in any manner whatsoever replace the opinion or advice of your health care professional. Always consult a health care professional before making a decision about your medication or treatment.