The soothing power of valerian root
For many centuries, the perennial herb known as valerian root has been used to treat insomnia. Even today, with so many prescription and over the counter sleep medications on the market, valerian root continues to enjoy a remarkable popularity. Valerian root certainly has a number of important benefits over other popular sleep medications. For instance, it is mild and not addictive and it is effective not only as an insomnia medication but as a treatment for anxiety and stress as well.
What is valerian root?
The plant known as the valerian root grows wild in many places around the world, including North America, Asia and Europe. It is the underground stems and roots of the plant that are dried and made into the herbal preparation known as valerian root.
There has been a bit of controversy over just what makes valerian root so effective as a sedative, but there is little doubt as to its effectiveness. In addition to promoting healthful and sound sleep, valerian root has long enjoyed a reputation for reducing anxiety and for reducing tension by relaxing tight muscles. In addition, Valerian root may play a role in relieving certain digestive problems, including such common ailments as irritable bowel syndrome and diverticulosis.
Forms of valerian root
In addition to being taken orally in the form of capsules or tablets made from dried herb, valerian root is often added to hot water to form a strong herbal tea or used as an essential oil. It is thought to have a calming effect in all of these preparations.
Valerian root has proven remarkably effective at treating anxiety and restlessness, and valerian root has even shown promise at treating panic attacks. Research is ongoing into the effectiveness of this herb against this serious condition.
In addition to its calming effects on the mind, valerian root may exhibit the same calming effects on the digestive system. Anecdotal evidence suggests that valerian root may be effective against common digestive problems, including many brought on by stress
Many people feel that the freeze dried extract of valerian root is the most effective form, and like all herbs how the valerian root is handled after harvest matters a great deal. If the herb is mishandled, or the equipment used to process it is of substandard quality, much of the therapeutic value of the herb can be lost. For this reason, it is important to buy valerian root only from high quality, established companies to ensure the best and most effective supplement.
What to look for
Valerian root is sold both as an individual herbal supplement and as part of herbal preparations which combine many different herbs. When buying a combined preparation with several different herbs it is important to ensure that the preparation contains a high enough concentration of valerian root to be effective against insomnia and other conditions. If a high enough concentration is not available it may be best to purchase the herb separately.
Valerian root may be one of those times when the natural approach is the best. Everyone needs to get a good night’s sleep, and new scientific studies, combined with thousands of years of safe and effective use, suggest that valerian root may be one of the best ways to treat insomnia and related conditions.