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Valerian for Anxiousness and Sleep

calm sleep Mar 26, 2020

by Henry Emmons, MD

[adapted from The Chemistry of Calm]

p.s., You've read Part 1 of this series and the introductory article about balancing GABA and glutamate, right? If not, head to those posts first.

Valerian Benefits | Valerian and Anxiety

Valerian has been called “natural Valium.” It is not as effective as the prescription drugs, but it is also safer and non-addicting, and it may offer benefit for both anxiety and sleep. The plant contains some of the calming amino acids, like arginine and GABA, and it is believed to work via GABA and serotonin receptors.21 There was an older study combining valerian with St. John’s wort, and comparing that combination to the drug Valium for treatment of anxiety. The natural remedies actually came out on top.22

Valerian Dosage & Use*

I usually recommend valerian for sleep support, though sometimes for anxiousness. Calm Nights is a good option, take up to 3 or 4 times daily. If it's going to help, the benefits should show up quickly—within one or two days. If it becomes too sedating (the most likely side effect), reduce the dose or take it all at bedtime.

As with all of the therapeutic supplements/herbs, I do not recommend them for long-term use. Many herbalists advise taking “herb holidays.” This just means limiting use for 4-6 months, and then taking a couple of weeks or months off. Then, resume it only if needed.

Valerian Side Effects*

Sedation is a common side effect.

Valerian Supplements**

  • Calm Nights contains 225 mg of valerian root extract per capsule. We use it as an additional support for the Anxious Mood subtype, but primarily for those who experience middle of the night waking. 

*Note: Some of the supplements discussed in this series can cause side effects, but many people tolerate them much better than prescription medications. They are generally considered safe, however, they should not be started without your doctor’s knowledge and supervision. If you are taking medication already, be sure to talk with your doctor before adding any of these items. If you are considering going off medication, remember never to stop your medication suddenly—always consult with your doctor about how to safely taper off any psychiatric medication.

**These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.  



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