Common name: Valerian
Latin name: Valeriana officinalis
Other names: Garden Valerian, Garden Heliotrope, All-heal
Habitat: Valerian is native to Europe and Asia. You can find it near streams or rivers on damp, lime-rich soils, but also on the dry, elevated grounds.
Description: Valerian is a herbaceous, perennial plant. It has a tuberous, yellow-brown rhizome and many small and slender, yellow rootlets. Stem is furrowed and hollow, reaching height of 120 centimeters. Leaves are oppositely arranged, denser near the base, with elliptical to lanceolate leaflets and serrated margins. During summer, pink or white sweet-scented flowers are borne in terminal clusters. Fruit is a brown ribbed anchene.
Parts used: Root and rhizome, fresh or dried
Useful components: Bornyl, valepotriates, valerenic acid, valeranone, valerenal,amino acids and free fatty acids.
Medicinal use: Valerian is a valuable agent in herbal medicine due to its anti-depressant, tranquilizing and sedative properties. It can be very helpful in treatment of insomnia, stress, anxiety and can be used as a muscle relaxant. Valerian is also used in treatment of intestinal colic and menstrual cramps. Different Valerian preparations have long been used in treatment of different gastrointestinal disorders, such as diarrhea, colic and irritable bowel syndrome. Lotions made from Valerian are said to soothe swollen joints and skin rashes. Some studies suggest that it can be beneficial in treatment of epilepsy due to its anticonvulsant activities.
Safety: Valerian shouldn’t be used in high doses or taken continuously for longer than two weeks. Consult your doctor/herbalist about the adequate dosage, and interaction with other medications.