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Every Herb Has A Story: Get Some Sleep With Valerian

6/1/2011 4:29:54 PM

Tags: Randy Buresh, Valerian, Sleep-Aids, Insomnia, Sleep

R.BureshRandy Buresh (Registered Nurse and Herbalist), is the co-owner and founder of Oregon’s Wild Harvest. Oregon’s Wild Harvest grows, harvests and produces their own medicinal herbal products, many of which use the herbs grown on their certified Biodynamic® and Organic farm in Sandy, Oregon. 

Have you ever been really tired and ready to go to bed, but once you’re under those nice, warm covers, your mind decides to go into overdrive—racing from topic to topic, thinking about all the things you did that day, or have to do tomorrow?

Well, I have. And I'm not alone. More than 67 million Americans also have trouble falling to sleep at night. So that’s one in three. You may say, “Wow, that’s me!”

I’ve always said that Mother Nature provides us with everything we need—including a good night’s sleep.

Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) has been traditionally used as a relaxant herb. This is because it has a calming effect on the nervous system. It seems to work quite well for helping a person go off to sleep, but its effect does not last very long so it will not really improve the quality of sleep over all. If all you need is that little extra help to turn off the brain, then valerian is the herb for you. 

Valerian has a calming effect on your nervous system, helping you get to sleep faster.
Photo by Dave Rogers/Courtesy Flickr

If you awake in a couple of hours, there are several other herbs that can be used in combination with valerian to improve quality and duration of sleep.  My favorite is skullcap. Skullcap is actually a nervine, but for me it seems to work well when combined with valerian. Here are a few others that you may want to try: passionflower, kava, hops, California poppy and chamomile. Herbs can affect people differently, so you may want to try different combinations until you find the one that works for you.

Interestingly, Valium and valerian both work on the same brain receptors, and both modulate the neurotransmitter GABA (Gamma Aminobutyric Acid). The activity comes from the root of the herb. Valerian can be consumed as a tea, although it does not have a pleasant taste and very few people can tolerate it. My suggestion would be to take it in a capsule; it works well that way, though it might take slightly longer for it to start working. On a positive note, valerian does not interact with alcohol and has a great safety record. 

Stress is usually the culprit for sleepless nights, and stress is a common thread that binds us all together. Who doesn’t have any stress? If you take your worries to bed at night or just can’t turn off your brain, try some natural herbal therapy from Mother Nature. She’s very smart and has provided us with everything we need to be healthy and happy, including getting a good night’s sleep.

So if your body is weary and your brain is in a fury, get some valerian in a great big hurry! 

*Statements herein have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration, and are not intended to treat or diagnose any disease or health condition. It is also recommended that patients check with their doctors before taking herbs, to ensure that there are no contraindications with prescription medications. 

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