Herbal Ergogenics: Valerian Root - Mind And Muscle

girl on exercise bikeThe roots of valerian (Valeriana officinalis) have a long history of use as a sedative and pain reliever. In the 1500s, valerian was used as a perfume, despite the fact that some would compare the smell of valerian to that of dirty gym socks. Valeric acid appears to be the main active constituent of valerian root, which is for the most part responsible for the effects that valerian is typically used for.

Valerian root relaxes the central nervous system for a calming effect. This calming effect makes valerian root useful to people with stressful lives to help reduce anxiety. Valerian root is also a popular sleep aid because it helps the user wind down from a busy day and fall asleep easily. Not only can valerian root help you relax and fall asleep, but many users also report improved sleep quality with valerian use.

Valerian root is included in many sleep aid and stress relief supplements, and is typically extracted for valeric acid. Valerian root as a single ingredient may be taken in capsules, as a liquid, or as a tea. Bulk powder is also available. Something interesting to not about valerian root is that its effects on sleep seem to be improved with regular use. If you plan on using valerian to improve sleep quality, using it nightly is probably a good idea.


1. Brattstrom A. (2007). Scientific evidence for a fixed extract combination (Ze 91019) from valerian and hops traditionally used as a sleep-inducing aid. Wiener Medizinische Wochenschrift (1946). 157(13-14), 367-70.

2. Shinomiya K, Fujimura K, Kim Y, & Kamei C. (2005). Effects of valerian extract on the sleep-wake cycle in sleep-disturbed rats. Acta Medica Okayama. 59(3), 89-92.

3. Bent S, Padula A, Moore D, Patterson M, & Mehling W. (2006). Valerian for sleep: a systematic review and meta-analysis. The American Journal of Medicine. 119(12), 1005-12.

4. Donath F, Quispe S, Diefenbach K, Maurer A, Fietze I, & Roots I. (2000). Critical evaluation of the effect of valerian extract on sleep structure and sleep quality. Pharmacopsychiatry. 33(2), 47-53.

5. Leathwood PD, Chauffard F, Heck E, & Munoz-Box R. (1982). Aqueous extract of valerian root (Valeriana officinalis L.) improves sleep quality in man. Pharmacology, Biochemistry, and Behavior. 17(1), 65-71.

6. Balderer G, & Borbely AA. (1985). Effect of valerian on human sleep. Psychopharmacology. 87(4), 406-9.

7. Cropley M, Cave Z, Ellis J, & Middleton RW. (2002). Effect of kava and valerian on human physiological and psychological responses to mental stress assessed under laboratory conditions. Phytotherapy Research : PTR. 16(1), 23-7.

8. Hadley S, & Petry JJ. (2003). Valerian. American Family Physician. 67(8), 1755-8.

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