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Valerian has an affinity for GABA receptors, likely due to the relatively high GABA content in valerian itself. The amount of GABA present in valerian extract is sufficient to induce release of GABA in synaptosomes and may also inhibit GABA reuptake.


Valerian is used for insomnia and other disorders. Other believed mechanisms of action in valerian include inhibition of the catabolism of GABA by valerenolic acid and acetylvalerenolic acid and affinity for the 5-HTA receptor by another constituent of valerian, called hydroxy pinoresinol.





The Dangers of Valerian



Sumei FitzGerald has been writing professionally since 2008 on health, nutrition, medicine and science topics. She has published work on doctors' websites such as Colon Cancer Resource, psychology sites such as Webpsykologen and environmental websites such as Supergreenme. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in sociology from the University of Connecticut where she also studied life sciences.


By Sumei FitzGerald, eHow Contributor

updated September 30, 2010




Valerian root is often used as a calming tea tincture.

Valerian, also known as all-heal and garden heliotrope, has been used as a medicinal treatment since ancient times, according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM). It is used to treat anxiety, depression, headaches, heartbeat irregularity, sleep disorders and trembling.


Valerian hasn't been well-studied, so the possible side effects aren't well understood. There is little information regarding its interaction with other drugs and herbs, and no research has been done regarding the long-term effects of valerian.


Some people may be allergic to Valeriana officinalis. The Irritable Bowel Syndrome Treatment Center of Seattle, Wash., includes valerian on its allergy test panel.


Common Side Effects


Valerian may cause headaches. headache

Valerian has been reported to cause gastrointestinal upset. Dizziness, headaches and itchiness are other common side effects, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS). Medline Plus reports that excitability, uneasiness and unsteadiness are other commonly reported valerian side effects.




Valerian may make driving dangerous.

Valerian is used as an anti-anxiety and sleep aid but it may affect the ability to concentrate or operate machinery. Research concerning such effects is conflicting: one study found that valerian increased daytime sleepiness and another found that it didn't affect alertness, concentration or reaction time, according to ODS.


Some people don't gain sedative effects from valerian. Instead, they may become restless and sleepless, reports naturopath Beth Burch. Chronic and long-term use of valerian may result in insomnia, according to Medline Plus.


The ODS warns that valerian may increase drowsiness when combined with other sedatives or supplements.





Valerian may have addictive qualities.

Valerian side effects may include addiction similar to that which occurs with drugs, reports Medline Plus. Valerian withdrawal has been noted in chronic users: confusion, delirium and rapid heartbeat. Another side effect of valerian use is a drug "hangover," reports Medline Plus.



Heart and Liver


Valerian has the potential for negative side effects on the heart and liver, according to Aetna Intelihealth. Liver toxicity has occurred with the use of herbal preparations that contain valerian, reports Medline Plus. Also, valerian may interact with anti-seizure medications.




Read more: The Dangers of Valerian | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/list_7209991_dangers-valerian.html#ixzz1PRrR91dA





Ask the Doctor Q&A: Addiction and Sleep Aids

Content from Harvard Medical School



Question:Is the sleep aid valerian (400 mg) addictive?



Answer: Valerian is an herbal remedy often used to help people sleep. Herbal medications are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration in the way prescription medications are. Valerian has not been studied in the same way prescription drugs are, and how iot may work is not well understood. In addition, the exact amount of valerian in a given dose may vary widely, since herbal medications are not held to the same standards as prescription medications.


Many prescription sleeping medications can cause physical dependence. Addiction can also develop. There has been at least one case reported of a person developing withdrawal symptoms after suddenly stopping valerian. This occurred in a person who had used valerian for a long time. The symptoms in this person were very similar to those observed in people withdrawing from prescription sleep medications.


With the limited amount of research available, there is not a definitive answer to the question of whether valerian is addictive. Based on the available research and the case report of valerian withdrawal, it seems possible that valerian can create physical dependence.


If you are concerned that you have symptoms of physical dependence or addiction associated with valerian, talk to your doctor about other treatment options.


- Added to Medpedia December 2008






Valerian Root Side Effects



Valerian root side effects range from drowsiness throughout the day to complicated liver problems. Many people use Valerian extract to treat sleeplessness, but eventually tend to get addicted to it. Over a period of time, Valerian roots are known to trigger a series of side effects in an individual.


Valerian, also known as the garden Valerian and garden heliotrope, is a perennial flowering plant, characterized by sweetly scented flowers, either pink or white in color. The plant native to Europe and northern Asia was introduced in North America by Europeans. It adapted to the damp areas of the American continents very well. In the northern hemisphere, the plant blooms between June and September. The herb is used to treat various medical conditions, prominent one being insomnia.



Valerian Root Uses


With several benefits to its credit, Valerian plant has been used by mankind for over a 1,000 years. In pharmacology, the roots of this plant are processed to produce capsules, which can be used for various effects including sedation and anxiolytic. Being in the concentrated form, the capsules are quite beneficial to health. The root of the Valerian plants tends to relax the central nervous system and decrease the levels anxiety and stress. One of the most prominent benefits of Valerian roots is its use as sleep enhancer. This benefit is acknowledged by millions of people across the world.



Valerian Root Side Effects


Although it's one of the best natural sleep aids, not everything is good about the herb! Valerian side effects are also very popular among individuals. The very fact that the herb tends to relax the central nervous system shows that the herb can have side effects when the individual gets used to it and also upon withdrawal.


Although the herb is non-toxic, studies have revealed that long term use of valerian can trigger a series of side effects in an individual. Valerian root side effects may vary from person to person.


The common side effects of Valerian are:



Inability to concentrate.

Sleepiness during the day.

Diminishing short-term memory.



In order to avoid these side effects of Valerian, the person should ensure that he gets sleep for at least 6 to 8 hours after taking it.



More Severe Side Effects of Valerian



More importantly, people who are taking prescription medications, such as Xanax and Valium, should avoid Valerian, as it tends to interact with such medications.


One of the most common Valerian root side effects, liver damage is most often noticed in people who indulge in alcohol abuse while taking Valerian root extract to tackling sleep disorders. Owing to lack of evidence, medical science doesn't support some Valerian root side effects.


Dreams and hallucinations are important examples of this. Being in concentrated form, Valerian root extract side effects are more severe than Valerian side effects. An individual can experience Valerian tea side effects, which include loss of muscle function and heart problems, when he is addicted to Valerian tea.


Dependence of Valerian roots can be harmful for the body, but sudden withdrawal from the same can also trigger some serious complications.


Valerian side effects do tend to disturb your healthy lifestyle, but that is not a compulsion. At times, you may observe some side effects of Valerian, which would not disturb you at that point of time, but may prove to be harmful over the course of time. And hence, it's important to consult a doctor when any of the aforementioned Valerian side effects are observed.


Valerian root is indeed one of the most effective herbs when it comes to calming the central nervous system and anxiety symptoms, but owing to the above mentioned Valerian root side effects one should be cautious when taking it. For instance, either taking it continuously for 2 weeks or abruptly ceasing the use of the same, both tend to have adverse effects on the body and hence are best avoided.


Many people are affected by these side effects of Valerian roots, but being a bit cautious with the usage of the same can make it an incredible herb.





GENERIC NAME: VALERIAN (Valeriana officinalis) - ORAL



USES: Valerian root has been used for sleep problems (insomnia).Some herbal/dietary supplement products have been found to contain possibly harmful impurities/additives.


Check with your pharmacist for more details about the brand you use.The FDA has not reviewed this product for safety or effectiveness. Consult your doctor or pharmacist for more details.



HOW TO USE: Take this product by mouth, usually 30 minutes to 2 hours before bedtime or as directed. Follow all directions on the product package. If you are uncertain about any of the information, consult your doctor or pharmacist.This herbal product should not be used for more than 4 weeks.


To reduce the chance of possible side effects when stopping extended use of valerian, do not suddenly stop taking it. Your dose may need to be gradually decreased over 1 to 2 weeks before stopping completely.


Consult your doctor or pharmacist for more details.If your condition persists or worsens, or if you think you may have a serious medical problem, seek immediate medical attention.


SIDE EFFECTS: Headache, restlessness, upset stomach, or drowsiness/tiredness after waking up may occur.


If any of these effects persist or worsen, contact your doctor or pharmacist promptly.Tell your doctor immediately if any of these rare but very serious side effects occur: persistent nausea/vomiting, stomach/abdominal pain, yellowing eyes/skin, dark urine, extreme tiredness.A very serious allergic reaction to this product is rare.


However, seek immediate medical attention if you notice any of the following symptoms of a serious allergic reaction: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.This is not a complete list of possible side effects.


If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.In the US -Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.In Canada - Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to Health Canada at 1-866-234-2345.


PRECAUTIONS: Before taking valerian, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it; or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details.


If you have any of the following health problems, consult your doctor or pharmacist before using this product: liver problems. Liquid forms of this product may contain sugar and/or alcohol. Caution is advised if you have diabetes, alcohol dependence, or liver disease.


Ask your doctor or pharmacist about using this product safely.This product may make you drowsy. Do not drive, use machinery, or do any activity that requires alertness until you are sure you can perform such activities safely. Avoid alcoholic beverages.


This product is not recommended for use during pregnancy. Consult your doctor before using this product.It is unknown if this product passes into breast milk. Consult your doctor before breast-feeding.


DRUG INTERACTIONS: Before using this product, tell your doctor or pharmacist of all prescription and nonprescription/herbal products you may use, especially of: drugs removed from your body by certain liver enzymes (such as simvastatin, lovastatin, atorvastatin, drugs to treat erectile dysfunction including sildenafil, azole antifungals including ketoconazole).


Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you also take drugs/other products that cause drowsiness such as: certain antihistamines (e.g., diphenhydramine), anti-seizure drugs (e.g., carbamazepine), medicine for sleep or anxiety (e.g., alprazolam, diazepam, zolpidem), muscle relaxants, narcotic pain relievers (e.g., codeine), psychiatric medicines (e.g., chlorpromazine, risperidone, amitriptyline, trazodone), other herbal/dietary products (e.g., kava, melatonin).


Check the labels on all your medicines (e.g., cough-and-cold products) because they may contain ingredients that cause drowsiness. Ask your pharmacist about using those products safely.Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicine before checking with your doctor or pharmacist first.This document does not contain all possible interactions.


Therefore, before using this product, tell your doctor or pharmacist of all the products you use. Keep a list of all your medications with you, and share the list with your doctor and pharmacist.


OVERDOSE: If overdose is suspected, contact your local poison control center or emergency room immediately. US residents can call the US National Poison Hotline at 1-800-222-1222. Canada residents can call a provincial poison control center. Symptoms of overdose may include: unusual tiredness, stomach cramping, chest tightness, shaking of hands/feet.


NOTES: Keep all regular medical and laboratory appointments. Liver function tests should be performed if this product is used for an extended time.


MISSED DOSE: Not applicable.


STORAGE: Refer to storage information printed on the package. If you have any questions about storage, ask your pharmacist. Keep all medications and herbal products away from children and pets.Do not flush medications down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. Properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist or local waste disposal company for more details about how to safely discard your product.



Last Editorial Review: 5/24/2011

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Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet:


ValerianKey points


This fact sheet provides an overview of the use of valerian for insomnia and other sleep disorders and contains the following key information:


Valerian is an herb sold as a dietary supplement in the United States.

Valerian is a common ingredient in products promoted as mild sedatives and sleep aids for nervous tension and insomnia.


Evidence from clinical studies of the efficacy of valerian in treating sleep disorders such as insomnia is inconclusive.


Constituents of valerian have been shown to have sedative effects in animals, but there is no scientific agreement on valerian's mechanisms of action.

Although few adverse events have been reported, long-term safety data are not available.


What is valerian?


Valerian (Valeriana officinalis), a member of the Valerianaceae family, is a perennial plant native to Europe and Asia and naturalized in North America [1]. It has a distinctive odor that many find unpleasant [2,3]. Other names include setwall (English), Valerianae radix (Latin), Baldrianwurzel (German), and phu (Greek). The genus Valerian includes over 250 species, but V. officinalis is the species most often used in the United States and Europe and is the only species discussed in this fact sheet [3,4].



What are common valerian preparations?


Preparations of valerian marketed as dietary supplements are made from its roots, rhizomes (underground stems), and stolons (horizontal stems). Dried roots are prepared as teas or tinctures, and dried plant materials and extracts are put into capsules or incorporated into tablets [5].


There is no scientific agreement as to the active constituents of valerian, and its activity may result from interactions among multiple constituents rather than any one compound or class of compounds [6]. The content of volatile oils, including valerenic acids; the less volatile sesquiterpenes; or the valepotriates (esters of short-chain fatty acids) is sometimes used to standardize valerian extracts. As with most herbal preparations, many other compounds are also present.


Valerian is sometimes combined with other botanicals [5]. Because this fact sheet focuses on valerian as a single ingredient, only clinical studies evaluating valerian as a single agent are included.



What are the historical uses of valerian?


Valerian has been used as a medicinal herb since at least the time of ancient Greece and Rome. Its therapeutic uses were described by Hippocrates, and in the 2nd century, Galen prescribed valerian for insomnia [5,7]. In the 16th century, it was used to treat nervousness, trembling, headaches, and heart palpitations [8]. In the mid-19th century, valerian was considered a stimulant that caused some of the same complaints it is thought to treat and was generally held in low esteem as a medicinal herb [2]. During World War II, it was used in England to relieve the stress of air raids [9].


In addition to sleep disorders, valerian has been used for gastrointestinal spasms and distress, epileptic seizures, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. However, scientific evidence is not sufficient to support the use of valerian for these conditions [10].



What clinical studies have been done on valerian and sleep disorders?


In a systematic review of the scientific literature, nine randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind clinical trials of valerian and sleep disorders were identified and evaluated for evidence of efficacy of valerian as a treatment for insomnia [11]. Reviewers rated the studies with a standard scoring system to quantify the likelihood of bias inherent in the study design [12]. Although all nine trials had flaws, three earned the highest rating (5 on a scale of 1 to 5) and are described below. Unlike the six lower-rated studies, these three studies described the randomization procedure and blinding method that were used and reported rates of participant withdrawal.


The first study used a repeated-measures design; 128 volunteers were given 400 mg of an aqueous extract of valerian, a commercial preparation containing 60 mg valerian and 30 mg hops, and a placebo [13]. Participants took each one of the three preparations three times in random order on nine nonconsecutive nights and filled out a questionnaire the morning after each treatment. Compared with the placebo, the valerian extract resulted in a statistically significant subjective improvement in time required to fall asleep (more or less difficult than usual), sleep quality (better or worse than usual), and number of nighttime awakenings (more or less than usual).


This result was more pronounced in a subgroup of 61 participants who identified themselves as poor sleepers on a questionnaire administered at the beginning of the study. The commercial preparation did not produce a statistically significant improvement in these three measures. The clinical significance of the use of valerian for insomnia cannot be determined from the results of this study because having insomnia was not a requirement for participation. In addition, the study had a participant withdrawal rate of 22.9%, which may have influenced the results.


In the second study, eight volunteers with mild insomnia (usually had problems falling asleep) were evaluated for the effect of valerian on sleep latency (defined as the first 5-minute period without movement) [14]. Results were based on nighttime motion measured by activity meters worn on the wrist and on responses to questionnaires about sleep quality, latency, depth, and morning sleepiness filled out the morning after each treatment.


The test samples were 450 or 900 mg of an aqueous valerian extract and a placebo. Each volunteer was randomly assigned to receive one test sample each night, Monday through Thursday, for 3 weeks for a total of 12 nights of evaluation. The 450-mg test sample of valerian extract reduced average sleep latency from about 16 to 9 minutes, which is similar to the activity of prescription benzodiazepine medication (used as a sedative or tranquilizer). No statistically significant shortening of sleep latency was seen with the 900-mg test sample.


Evaluation of the questionnaires showed a statistically significant improvement in subjectively measured sleep. On a 9-point scale, participants rated sleep latency as 4.3 after the 450-mg test sample and 4.9 after the placebo. The 900-mg test sample increased the sleep improvement but participants noted an increase in sleepiness the next morning. Although statistically significant, this 7-minute reduction in sleep latency and the improvement in subjective sleep rating are probably not clinically significant. The small sample size makes it difficult to generalize the results to a broader population.


The third study examined longer-term effects in 121 participants with documented nonorganic insomnia [15]. Participants received either 600 mg of a standardized commercial preparation of dried valerian root (LI 156, Sedonium?*) or placebo for 28 days. Several assessment tools were used to evaluate the effectiveness and tolerance of the interventions, including questionnaires on therapeutic effect (given on days 14 and 28), change in sleep patterns (given on day 28), and changes in sleep quality and well-being (given on days 0, 14, and 28). After 28 days, the group receiving the valerian extract showed a decrease in insomnia symptoms on all the assessment tools compared with the placebo group. The differences in improvement between valerian and placebo increased between the assessments done on days 14 and 28.


(*The mention of a specific brand name is not an endorsement of the product.)


The reviewers concluded that these nine studies are not sufficient for determining the effectiveness of valerian to treat sleep disorders [11]. For example, none of the studies checked the success of the blinding, none calculated the sample size necessary for seeing a statistical effect, only one partially controlled prebedtime variables [15], and only one validated outcome measures [13].


Two other randomized, controlled trials published after the systematic review described above [11] are presented below.


In a randomized, double-blind study, 75 participants with documented nonorganic insomnia were randomly assigned to receive 600 mg of a standardized commercial valerian extract (LI 156) or 10 mg oxazepam (a benzodiazepine medication) for 28 days [16]. Assessment tools used to evaluate the effectiveness and tolerance of the interventions included validated sleep, mood scale, and anxiety questionnaires as well as sleep rating by a physician (on days 0, 14, and 28). Treatment result was determined via a 4-step rating scale at the end of the study (day 28). Both groups had the same improvement in sleep quality but the valerian group reported fewer side effects than did the oxazepam group. However, this study was designed to show superiority, if any, of valerian over oxazepam and its results cannot be used to show equivalence.


In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover study, researchers evaluated sleep parameters with polysomnographic techniques that monitored sleep stages, sleep latency, and total sleep time to objectively measure sleep quality and stages [17]. Questionnaires were used for subjective measurement of sleep parameters. Sixteen participants with medically documented nonorganic insomnia were randomly assigned to receive either a single dose and a 14-day administration of 600 mg of a standardized commercial preparation of valerian (LI 156) or placebo.


Valerian had no effect on any of the 15 objective or subjective measurements except for a decrease in slow-wave sleep onset (13.5 minutes) compared with placebo (21.3 minutes). During slow-wave sleep, arousability, skeletal muscle tone, heart rate, blood pressure, and respiratory frequency decreased. Increased time spent in slow-wave sleep may decrease insomnia symptoms. However, because all but 1 of the 15 endpoints showed no difference between placebo and valerian, the possibility that the single endpoint showing a difference was the result of chance must be considered. The valerian group reported fewer adverse events than did the placebo group.


Although the results of some studies suggest that valerian may be useful for insomnia and other sleep disorders, results of other studies do not. Interpretation of these studies is complicated by the fact the studies had small sample sizes, used different amounts and sources of valerian, measured different outcomes, or did not consider potential bias resulting from high participant withdrawal rates. Overall, the evidence from these trials for the sleep-promoting effects of valerian is inconclusive.



How does valerian work?


Many chemical constituents of valerian have been identified, but it is not known which may be responsible for its sleep-promoting effects in animals and in in vitro studies. It is likely that there is no single active compound and that valerian's effects result from multiple constituents acting independently or synergistically [18,reviewed in 19].


Two categories of constituents have been proposed as the major source of valerian's sedative effects. The first category comprises the major constituents of its volatile oil including valerenic acid and its derivatives, which have demonstrated sedative properties in animal studies [6,20]. However, valerian extracts with very little of these components also have sedative properties, making it probable that other components are responsible for these effects or that multiple constituents contribute to them [21]. The second category comprises the iridoids, which include the valepotriates. Valepotriates and their derivatives are active as sedatives in vivo but are unstable and break down during storage or in an aqueous environment, making their activity difficult to assess [6,20,22].


A possible mechanism by which a valerian extract may cause sedation is by increasing the amount of gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA, an inhibitory neurotransmitter) available in the synaptic cleft. Results from an in vitro study using synaptosomes suggest that a valerian extract may cause GABA to be released from brain nerve endings and then block GABA from being taken back into nerve cells [23]. In addition, valerenic acid inhibits an enzyme that destroys GABA [reviewed in 24]. Valerian extracts contain GABA in quantities sufficient to cause a sedative effect, but whether GABA can cross the blood-brain barrier to contribute to valerian's sedative effects is not known.


Glutamine is present in aqueous but not in alcohol extracts and may cross the blood-brain barrier and be converted to GABA [25]. Levels of these constituents vary significantly among plants depending on when the plants are harvested, resulting in marked variability in the amounts found in valerian preparations [26].



What is the regulatory status of valerian in the United States?


In the United States, valerian is sold as a dietary supplement, and dietary supplements are regulated as foods, not drugs. Therefore, premarket evaluation and approval by the Food and Drug Administration are not required unless claims are made for specific disease prevention or treatment. Because dietary supplements are not always tested for manufacturing consistency, the composition may vary considerably between manufacturing lots.



Can valerian be harmful?


Few adverse events attributable to valerian have been reported for clinical study participants. Headaches, dizziness, pruritus, and gastrointestinal disturbances are the most common effects reported in clinical trials but similar effects were also reported for the placebo [14-17]. In one study an increase in sleepiness was noted the morning after 900 mg of valerian was taken [14].


Investigators from another study concluded that 600 mg of valerian (LI 156) did not have a clinically significant effect on reaction time, alertness, and concentration the morning after ingestion [27]. Several case reports described adverse effects, but in one case where suicide was attempted with a massive overdose it is not possible to clearly attribute the symptoms to valerian [28-31].


Valepotriates, which are a component of valerian but are not necessarily present in commercial preparations, had cytotoxic activity in vitro but were not carcinogenic in animal studies [32-35].



Who should not take valerian?


Women who are pregnant or nursing should not take valerian without medical advice because the possible risks to the fetus or infant have not been evaluated [36].

Children younger than 3 years old should not take valerian because the possible risks to children of this age have not been evaluated [36].

Individuals taking valerian should be aware of the theoretical possibility of additive sedative effects from alcohol or sedative drugs, such as barbiturates and benzodiazepines [10,37,38].



Does valerian interact with any drugs or affect laboratory tests?


Although valerian has not been reported to interact with any drugs or to influence laboratory tests, this has not been rigorously studied [5,10,36].



What are some additional sources of scientific information on valerian?


Medical libraries are a source of information about medicinal herbs. Other sources include Web-based resources such as PubMed available at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?holding=nih.


For general information on botanicals and their use as dietary supplements, please see Background Information About Botanical Dietary Supplements (http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/botanicalbackground.asp) and General Background Information About Dietary Supplements (http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/dietarysupplements.asp), from the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS).



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Mullins ME, Horowitz BZ: The case of the salad shooters: intravenous injection of wild lettuce extract. Veterinary and Human Toxicology 40: 290-291, 1998. [PubMed abstract]

Garges HP, Varia I, Doraiswamy PM: Cardiac complications and delirium associated with valerian root withdrawal. Journal of the American Medical Association 280: 1566-1567, 1998. [PubMed abstract]

Willey LB, Mady SP, Cobaugh DJ, Wax PM: Valerian overdose: a case report. Veterinary and Human Toxicology 37: 364-365, 1995. [PubMed abstract]

Bounthanh, C, Bergmann C, Beck JP, Haag-Berrurier M, Anton R. Valepotriates, a new class of cytotoxic and antitumor agents. Planta Medica 41: 21-28, 1981. [PubMed abstract]

Bounthanh, C, Richert L, Beck JP, Haag-Berrurier M, Anton R: The action of valepotriates on the synthesis of DNA and proteins of cultured hepatoma cells. Journal of Medicinal Plant Research 49: 138-142, 1983. [PubMed abstract]

Tufik S, Fuhita K, Seabra ML, Lobo LL: Effects of a prolonged administration of valepotriates in rats on the mothers and their offspring. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 41: 39-44, 1996. [PubMed abstract]

Bos R, Hendriks H, Scheffer JJC, Woerdenbag HJ: Cytotoxic potential of valerian constituents and valerian tinctures. Phytomedicine 5: 219-225, 1998.

European Scientific Cooperative on Phytotherapy: Valerianae radix: valerian root. In: Monographs on the Medicinal Uses of Plant Drugs. Exeter, UK: ESCOP, 1997: 1-10.

Rotblatt M, Ziment I. Valerian (Valeriana officinalis). In: Evidence-Based Herbal Medicine. Philadelphia: Hanley & Belfus, Inc., 2002: 355-359.

Givens M, Cupp MJ: Valerian. In: Cupps MJ, ed. Toxicology and Clinical Pharmacology of Herbal Products. Totowa, NJ: Humana Press, 2000: 53-66.


The mention of a specific brand name is not an endorsement of the product. For general information on herbs and botanicals and their use as dietary supplements, please see General Background Information About Dietary Supplements and Background Information About Botanical Dietary Supplements from the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS), available at http://ods.od.nih.gov. Reasonable care has been taken in preparing this fact sheet and the information provided herein is believed to be accurate. However, this information is not intended to constitute an "authoritative statement" under Food and Drug Administration rules and regulations.


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General Safety Advisory


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Before treating a child with an herb or a botanical, consult with a doctor or other health care provider.

Like drugs, herbal or botanical preparations have chemical and biological activity. They may have side effects. They may interact with certain medications. These interactions can cause problems and can even be dangerous.

If you have any unexpected reactions to an herbal or a botanical preparation, inform your doctor or other health care provider.

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I've been having such a hard time getting going in the mornings with the extreme a.m. anxiety. Hard time having the desire to get up, seeing a need to get up, seeing a way to get out of the house. Just crappy mood I think. I'm 3.5 weeks out and pray my experience will be shorter than the suffering many others have been through. I have to get through this all by August when I start grad school.


I just purchased Valerian pills because I found one that is "standardized." Taking one pill early this am and one about 11 has done a lot to help me keep going today. I definitely see a difference. Read it is used to reduce anxiety in some european countries.


I read bubbles posting about benzos. Although I have some around I don't want to risk a new problem. Everyone convinced bubbles not to use them and I want to follow that good advice


Is Valerian safe to use for a while, to help ease symptoms? Anything I should be concerned about? Any affect on fertility? Any warning about how much to take?


many thanks!!!

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I have long used Valerian...and found it entirely benign... Indeed over time took less and less... It gives me a better quality of sleep, rather than just knocks me out..


I take a local formulational which included passionflower and lavender... all very sweet...(I find melatonin leaves me feeling hungover...)


It works so well for me, I cant believe I wasnt offerred it originally rather than a benzo..


Definitely, reintroducng benzo today would do nothing to a braid recovery startegy..

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My doctor has given me xanax to take at night and i have had to for the past two weeks or less 0.5 mg. I really am concerned about this because of having another thing to withdraw from . Can i take valerian root instead and can i just switch it one night or will i have to taper the xanax . He only told me to use the xanax if i had needed it . well having withdrawal symptoms from 15 years of being antidepressants. My Psychiatrist is not really in favor anything that has not been passed by the FDA. Also i had taken before when i was on antidpressants and had no bad response. What is your take on this? Asking him may be futile. Any ideas i will not see him till the beginning od Decemeber.


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I was only on .5 mg of Xanax as well. It's just as hard, if not harder, to get off of than the Paxil. I'm having to reduce it only by 5% every month. It'll take a year at this rate. Half a milligram doesn't sound like much, but it is indeed a lot and very hard to get off of. If I were you, I'd stay far far away from it!


I haven't tried Valerian since I've been in w/d. I used to take it in the past and I liked it. But I don't know how it is with w/d symptoms. Maybe someone else can help you with that.

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My doctor has given me xanax to take at night and i have had to for the past two weeks or less 0.5 mg. I really am concerned about this because of having another thing to withdraw from . Can i take valerian root instead and can i just switch it one night or will i have to taper the xanax . He only told me to use the xanax if i had needed it . well having withdrawal symptoms from 15 years of being antidepressants. My Psychiatrist is not really in favor anything that has not been passed by the FDA. Also i had taken before when i was on antidpressants and had no bad response. What is your take on this? Asking him may be futile. Any ideas i will not see him till the beginning od Decemeber.



You're right to be concerned about xanax. I would not take it for any longer than recommended on the patient info leaflet.

I think it's two week but it's worth a check cos I may be wrong.

It's an evil drug and according to the many experiences I have read, a ***** to get off.

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Valerian is risky in withdrawal for those of use who become hyper-sensitive to medications and supplements etc.


Because of it's affinity to GABA receptors its somewhat like a benzo and it can act as a harsh reintroduction into bad withdrawal symptoms in some cases.


It's one of those things that if people used it judiciously BEFORE ever getting strung out on drugs...it would most likely be totally safe...


but once we're in withdrawal we definitely run the risk of it going paradoxical and harming us.


that said, people do use it successfully coming off benzos, but it's a risk and people need to know it can throw some of us right back into ugly withdrawal symptoms. Once people become sensitized it's best avoided and/or eliminated.

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Similar topics merged.


I had a bad reaction to Valerian in early withdrawal.  I tried it because I wasn't sleeping, but not only did it not help with sleep, it seemed to be activating and caused more anxiety.  I tried it for several nights, but then stopped.

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Punarbhava shared an article:



The Irritable Bowel Syndrome Treatment Center of Seattle, Wash., includes valerian on its allergy test panel.


Wow.  Maybe this is the trigger for my "getting sick."  Every now and then I take valerian to help with sleep.  I will tend to take a big dose (1-3g), but I don't use it often.  I will pay attention more, now, to see if it is a factor.


So far, I've been looking at dairy and grains - but this is a "random" factor that I hadn't really accounted for!


And it is the most common ingredient in Australian sleep aids.  I used to grow it, in Indiana, intending to tincture it - but it became an evil noxious weed which took over half the side-yard and I had to kill it off.  Never made any tea or tinctures from it.  Plus - as a tincture it smells like a cat's arse.


No really.  Cats have an affinity for this stuff and I found out why one morning when I woke up smelling valerian - and there was my cat, sitting on my nose!  (this was in the late 1980's, so not my current cat)


More, on valerian's dangers and interactions from our Aussie Yolande Lucire:  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3513220/


The article talks about the dangers of certain genetic methylation pathways, and that valerian can be hazardous when combined with other psych drugs.  Here are some (complex, can't say I understand them, but I get the gist, that she places responsibility for death on the combination of valerian and a tricyclic drug:



My husband was drinking. I took small doses of valerian for a month and had weird dreams and premonitions. When I took nortriptyline, I immediately wanted to kill myself, talked myself out of it. I’d never had thoughts like that before. My husband was angry, shouting. I walked outside a lot, with palpitations, trouble breathing, and became more depressed. My smoking went up to 25 a day, no alcohol. I didn’t sleep for two nights, dreamt, then slept maybe three hours, felt awful. I dreamt that my daughter had dark teeth and I saw a black halo around her head, a spear hanging over it. I felt like a zombie. I believed I had to help my daughter, that a bad spirit possessed her. I picked up a knife and stabbed her and woke up. I was not myself. I was looking on from the outside, controlled by dark forces. She said: “Mum, what are you doing here?” I realized what I’d done. I asked my husband to kill me. He called the police. I felt better in the police cells without the pills, but the pills started again and thoughts of killing myself returned.

Nortriptyline is extensively metabolized in the liver, primarily by hydroxylation.24,25 There is a strong correlation between total plasma clearance of nortriptyline and 2D6 enzyme activity.2528 Reduced clearance resulting from this subject’s 2D6 genotype alone would lead to a build up of serum nortriptyline, which has been shown to be associated with loss of efficacy, toxicity, and increased adversity in several studies.2931 Nortriptyline is also significantly metabolized through 3A4 as an additional pathway, according to in vitro32 and in vivo data.3336 In the case of severely reduced metabolism through 2D6, as in this subject, 3A4 would have been the major pathway for metabolism. However, the nortriptyline was superimposed on valerian, which has been shown to be a 3A4 inhibitor in vitro and to significantly increase the maximum serum levels of a 3A4 substrate in vivo.3739 The addition of a substrate to an inhibitor is one drug–drug interaction scenario (Pattern 2), as described in Armstrong et al.40 The addition of nortriptyline to valerian immediately provoked a toxic delirium in this subject; she became akathisic and suicidal and 3 days later she committed the homicide.


she quotes as references:




38. Lefebvre T, Foster BC, Drouin CE, Krantis A, Livesey JF, Jordan SA. In vitro activity of commercial valerian root extracts against human cytochrome P450 3A4. J Pharm Pharm Sci. 2004;12:265–273. 7(2)[PubMed]
39. Donovan JL, DeVane CL, Chavin KD, et al. Multiple night-time doses of valerian (Valeriana officinalis) had minimal effects on CYP3A4 activity and no effect on CYP2D6 activity in healthy volunteers. Drug Metab Dispos. 2004;32(12):1333–1336. [PubMed]

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I tried Valerian for insomnia years before AD. One 1 pill, the effects were very similar to my single dose of Effexor--I felt like I'd had about 20 cups of coffee and did not sleep for several nights. I was shaky and sweaty..and spent my time praying for the stuff to leave my system. Have never wanted to try it again, especially in WD.

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I took Valerian root liquid form for 2 weeks and it worked wonders. I was calm during the day and slept at night. But after two weeks one morning woke up with severe anxiety, those are the worst. I have a feeling Valerian had triggered it, now I have been feeling anxious and depressed for the second week. I stopped taking it. I think I am sensitive to it and it has negative effects on me, cause I am having pretty bad withdrawal syndrome after 10 yrs of Paxil intake. So sad, I have not found site like this 10 yrs ago to prevent this disaster....

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I just started tapering off 40mg of paxil after taking it for about a month and one of my W/D symptoms is anxiety and insomnia.. I just want to know if Valerian root really does work to ease up the symptoms??

Edited by KarenB
merged similar topics

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I found that it gave me a bit of restless Leg syndrome. Have u tried melatonin with chamomile and hops. I sleep rather poorely and have found this helps. I stay on the very light side of melatonin..no more than 2 mgs. I have been on effexor for 2 years and it gives me insomnia horribly. Hope this helps

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I havent but I'll definitely try it out! Anythings better than not sleeping at all Thank you so much!

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I tried Valerian years ago - I can't remember if it was during the insomnia before taking AD or for insomnia during WD after stopping AD. The effect was I felt very very dopy in an unsettled way and felt heavy like I could not move - it feeling lasted hours and while I certainly felt drugged (I took at night to try to sleep) I could not sleep and felt some what alert at the same time. I couldn't wait for it to get out of my system and never took it again. Sometimes I have wondered if I just took a bad brand? Perhaps if I tried a small amount for WD anxiety during the day it might help? I don't know. I googled passion flower and did not see a topic on it in surviving antidepressants - only saw it mentioned here or there. Is this a reason to start a topic - to see how others have fared trying passion flower for anxiety and insomnia during WD?

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Prior to AD'S I tried Valerian tablets.I found it hard to fall asleep after taking it.

It did not calm my anxiety.

I have also tried passion flower and Kava.

Nothing to rave about.

My Chinese Herbalist told me that both Passion flower and Kava can be toxic to the liver.

No warning label on these supplements, yet you can purchase it freely from the pharmacy or the "health food", shop.

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I have some of this valerian root i dont know whether to use it. Anyone else use it??

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I have some of this valerian root i dont know whether to use it. Anyone else use it??


I used valerian tincture when I was going on Effexor and had terrible side effects. Also, at the same time I was coming off Oxazepam. It really helped me fall asleep. I mixed the tincture with honey and took it right before going to bed. It knocked me out, but I must say I also took a pretty hearty amount.

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Valerian extract help me very much for my crisis at sunset. 

If i am very bad 1000mg stop crisis immediatly. I will try 200mg in prevention at sunset.

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I have a question if someone know, what is half life of root extract?

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Just over an hour.

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whow very short. I didn't know ^^. Thanks !


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Extra Sleepytime tea has valerian root in it. I had a cup of the tea a couple of times last night and it did seem to help me sleep. I didn’t notice any adverse reaction to it.  Now, after reading this article, I don’t know if I should drink it or not?  

Can you develop physical dependence if you don’t take it every day?  I was planning on only drinking the tea 2 or 3 times a week to avoid becoming dependent on it.  Anyone know if it interacts with Effexor?

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No more Extra Sleepytime tea for me.  I had some of the worst GI trouble after drinking a cup of Extra Sleepytime tea before bed.  Not sure if it was the tea, Lucky Charm Cereal or almond milk.  It did make me sleepy. But I could not sleep since I was burping and had acid reflux and sharp chest pains all night.  I took the next day off of work.  This morning I had almond mild with Special K cereal and I got diarrhea so I don’t know maybe it is the almond milk.  I do have an extremely touchy stomach and tons of allergies.  This was so even before withdrawal.  Withdrawal just made it worse.  Maybe regular Sleepytime tea will be okay, but I’m not gonna touch Extra Sleepytime tea. 

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Hi SW-- I also posted on your intro thread, I think that you should stop drinking the almond milk, because the symptoms you describe are consistent with an allergic reaction, and that quite possibly will get worse if you continue to take it.  Google "almond milk side effects" and you'll get quite an eye full.

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