Valerian root is a herb that has been in use since ancient times for its sleep inducing and tranquil effects on the body. It has often been called nature's Valium, because of its relaxation effects.
In this article, we take a look at the effectiveness, safety, and usage of valerian root for sleep. So, ready to dive in?
What is Valerian Root?
Valerian, scientifically known as Valeriana officinalis, is native to Asia and Europe and is now also grown in other countries like China and the USA. Valerian root flowers were used in perfumes in the earlier days and then have been in use for medicinal purposes ever since.
Valerian carries a very strong, earthy odor - this is because of the potent and volatile oils that it carries - also responsible for its sedative effects on the body.
Given its amazing benefits, valerian root extract is also available as supplements in capsules. It is also used as an ingredient in sleeping pills and supplements. Many people also consume it as tea.
Does Valerian Root help?
Valerian root benefits are aplenty. It is the home to various sleep-promoting compounds such as valerenic acid, isovaleric acid, and antioxidants. These compounds in valerian interact with GABA or gamma-aminobutyric acid in our body. GABA helps in the regulation of nerve impulses in the brain and nervous system.
When our GABA levels are low, it leads to acute and chronic stress - which has a direct correlation with disturbed sleep and anxiety. Valerian inhibits the breakdown of GABA in the brain and thereby induces a feeling of calmness and relaxation, exactly how even anti-anxiety medications (like Xanax) work.
Other than that, valerian root contains certain antioxidants that are known to have sedative effects on our brains. It also helps in maintaining a proper balance of serotonin in the body, thereby controlling mood swings.
Valerian Root for Sleep & Relaxation
With sleep disorders becoming extremely common these days, new means of treatment and prevention are coming out in the market every day. Research suggests that valerian root improves the quality of sleep by making you fall asleep faster. It also promotes deep sleep, thereby recharging your body and making sure you feel energetic on waking up. It is known to reduce the signs of insomnia after those who are dependent on sleep medication get off of them. When it comes to Valerian Root vs Melatonin, the former is also beneficial for kids, as per some research studies.
Word of Caution: It is advised to consult with your doctor before you add any supplements to your diet, especially if you have a chronic condition or are pregnant or breastfeeding.