Mother Earth Living

Natural Health

Better living through nature

Add to My MSN

Valeriana Officinalis: Grow Valerian for a Natural Sleep Aid

2/21/2011 11:37:38 AM

Tags: Heidi Cardenas, Valerian, Valeriana Officinalis, Tips, Sleep, Sleep Aid

H.CardenasHeidi Cardenas is a freelance writer and gardener in Lake County, Illinois, with a background in human resources. She has written about gardening for various online venues and enjoys The Herb Companion’s valuable resources.  

Valerian is an interesting and attractive herbaceous perennial to grow in a dedicated area of the herb garden or in wet areas of the landscape.

Used since ancient times for its sedative and relaxing properties, Valeriana officinalis, commonly known as garden heliotrope, is native to Europe and Northern Asia, and its native habitat is marshes and river banks. Valerian grows from thick rhizomes, with 2- or 3-inch-long dark green, lance-shaped serrated leaves growing from a central rosette and a 3- to 4-foot-tall flowering stem with clusters of flower buds. The central rhizome sends out smaller rhizomes, which grow new plants around the mother plant. The foliage has a stinking, putrid odor, especially when handled or disturbed, but the flowers have a fragrance similar to cherry pie. The stinking foliage is as attractive to cats as catnip, and they will roll in the plants and tear them up if given the opportunity. You can sew up tiny pillows stuffed with valerian leaves for the cats in your life to enjoy.

2-22-2011-valeriana officinalis
Valerian has clusters of small flowers that bloom from fat buds atop tall stalks. 
Photo by H. Zell/Courtesy Wikimedia Commons 
 
 

Flowers 1Cultivation: Sow valerian seeds in spring when the soil has warmed up or plant seedlings or divisions. New seedlings need consistent moisture, grow slowly and need protection from faster-growing weeds. After a few years growth, dig up and separate very thick stands of plants. Established valerian seeds freely, self-sows if flowers are left on the plant and can be difficult to remove from the landscape. Unless you plan to harvest many roots, you may want to plant it in a half barrel or contain it with a sunken barrier. If you plan to harvest roots to use for herbal preparations, clip off the flower stalks to let the plant concentrate on root growth, do not use any chemicals in the garden and wait until the second year to dig up roots. Roots dug in early fall, around the end of September, have the highest concentration of essential oil.

Medicinal Uses: Valerian root is used in various forms, such as in capsules filled with the dried, powdered root and as tea made by steeping slices of fresh or dried root in boiling water. The fresh root can be put through a juicer for a liquid treatment to be taken straight or mixed with other liquids like chamomile tea or lemonade. Other medicinal uses for valerian include cough syrup made by boiling valerian root with licorice, raisins and anise seed and a headache poultice of leaves quickly blanched in boiling water and wrapped in gauze or muslin and applied to the forehead. Dr. Mehmet Oz recommends valerian as a gentle sleep aid, saying lack of sleep affects health.

Valerian Photo: Photo by H. Zell/Courtesy Wikimedia Commons 



Related Content

In the News: Foods to Remedy Insomnia

Some foods can help you get better sleep. Try these tips to fight insomnia with natural sleep aids.

Europharma Releases Curamin PM A Nighttime Version Of Its Popular Curamin Product

EuroPharma, Inc. has now released a nighttime version, Curamin PM, for those who need support for re...

6 Herbal Sedatives to Help You Fall Asleep Naturally

Having trouble falling asleep at night? Combat insomnia with these herbal sleep aids.

Having Trouble Sleeping? Reduce Light Pollution for a Better Night’s Rest

Light pollution can interfere with your body’s ability to sleep through the night. Get a better nigh...

Content Tools




Post a comment below.

 

MY COMMUNITY
no image
valerykenery
8/29/2014 12:04:10 AM
no image
HarvestRight
8/21/2014 5:22:39 PM
no image
NatureHillsNursery
8/20/2014 10:03:07 AM
no image
NatureHillsNursery
8/20/2014 9:59:22 AM
no image
NatureHillsNursery
8/20/2014 9:30:07 AM
no image
melisastarr
8/19/2014 12:57:22 PM
no image
Peggy McMahan
8/18/2014 11:29:51 AM


Subscribe today and save 58%

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Subscribe to Mother Earth Living!

Welcome to Mother Earth Living, the authority on green lifestyle and design. Each issue of Mother Earth Living features advice to create naturally healthy and nontoxic homes for yourself and your loved ones. With Mother Earth Living by your side, you’ll discover all the best and latest information you want on choosing natural remedies and practicing preventive medicine; cooking with a nutritious and whole-food focus; creating a nontoxic home; and gardening for food, wellness and enjoyment. Subscribe to Mother Earth Living today to get inspired on the art of living wisely and living well.

Save Money & a Few Trees!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You’ll save an additional $5 and get six issues of Mother Earth Living for just $14.95! (Offer valid only in the U.S.)

Or, choose Bill Me and pay just $19.95.