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(Valeriana officinalis)

Valerian is a perennial flowering plant long used for sleep disorders, including insomnia. Valerian is sometimes combined with other herbs, including lemon balm and hops which can also help facilitate sleepiness.

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Used for:

Insomnia (it’s a safe sleeping aid); anxiety, nervous disorders, migraine, stomach upset and more.

Available in:

Tincture, extract, tablets

Herb / drug interactions:

Valerian root may interact with alcohol, some antihistamines, muscle relaxants, psychotropic drugs and narcotics. When taking any of these drugs, you should use valerian only under the supervision of a health-care provider. May increase sedative effects of anesthesia and should be discontinued at least a week prior to having surgery.

Other safety concerns:

Valerian root is relatively safe and no significant side effects are known, but try not to use it on a regular basis, or you may become psychologically dependent upon it. People with impaired kidney or liver functions should not take valerian except under a physician’s supervision. It should not be used with kava. Use on a short-term basis only.

When buying:

Look for valerian products standardized to 1% valerenic acid.


Adult valerian root dosage: Use 1 teaspoon of the tincture in a quarter cup of water, or 1 or 2 tablets, at bedtime.

Child dosage:

One dropperful at bedtime in a quarter cup of water