Can valerian help me sleep better?

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Goldina Erowele
Caregiving

Valerian has a long history of use as a sedative and anxiolytic. It is one of the most popular herbal preparations in Europe. It has also been reported that valerian improves sleep quality. It may have benefit for individuals with stress caused by a number of factors.

Valerian components include valepotriates, valeric acid, and pungent oils. These have a sedative effect on the central nervous system, and they can induce smooth muscle relaxation in the gastrointestinal tract.

Based on pharmacologic activities, may cause drowsiness or sedation. Use with caution when driving or operating heavy machinery (German Commission E, 1985). Use caution in individuals taking medications that cause CNS depression, including sedative-hypnotics, antihistamines, antidepressants, and anxiolytics.

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Evidence for improved sleep from clinical trials in humans using valerian is limited, and results are moderately positive.

In the largest controlled study of 128 asymptomatic persons, the participants reported a subjective improvement in sleep quality for valerian extract compared to a placebo. For participants taking the valerian extract, the greatest improvements were reported by those considering themselves to be poor sleepers.

In another controlled trial a valerian preparation containing primarily fat-soluble compounds (sesquiterpenes) improved poor sleep significantly more than the placebo. A high proportion of participants in the valerian group reported improved sleep.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.