Valerian has been used as a medicinal herb since at least the time of ancient Greece and Rome. The name comes from the Latin “valere,” meaning to be strong or to be healthy.
It has more than 2000 years of documented use and its popularity has only increased with time. Hippocrates described its properties, and Galen later prescribed it as a remedy for insomnia. The Native Americans used it in healing wounds and ulcers, as well as a cough remedy.
During its long history as a medicine plant, the valerian root has been used as a sleep aid, anxiety relief, a cure for epilepsy during the Middle Ages and as a useful remedy for poison by Greek physicians. However, it is as a treatment for nervous disorders that valerian has become most noteworthy, and in modern times it is the number one nonprescription sedative in Europe.
A cup of valerian tea (when used properly) is one the gentlest ways to fall asleep, spend a restful night and wake up without the usual grogginess of other sleep aids. It relaxes your muscles and body, calms the over-thinking mind and helps you to get a good night's sleep, without interrupted sleep patterns while it doesn't affect your attention or sobriety.
Usually, valerian tea is prepared with some additional herbs, a spoon of honey or a few drops of lemon to make the taste more enjoyable.
Overall, there are many excellent health benefits of valerian root, including regulating sleep, reducing anxiety, stress and hyperactivity, easing digestion, soothing heart palpitations (and regulating blood pressure), stimulating the mind, as well as relieving pain (menstrual cramps, PMS, migraines and headaches).
Simmer gently 1 teaspoon of the root in 1 cup of water. Cover it for 10-15 minutes. Drink 3 cups per day.
When working with plants, we often get the best results by combing them, as they have a wide range of benefits – some that they share with other plants (thus strengthening and multiplying the effect) and some that are specific to the given plant. Valerian combines well with skullcap, passion flower, hops, lemon balm, and lavender (combinations for relaxing, anxiety and sleep disorders) , as well as St.John's wort (excellent combination for depression) for better effect but also for a more enjoyable flavor. It can be sweetened with honey, for taste.
This wonderful root can also be used in baths, which are particularly popular among those suffering from rheumatic pain. To make a valerian bath, put 2-3 spoons of the herb in a tea strainer or old fabric (place it in a gauze or an old sock and tie a knot to secure the herb inside), put it in the tub and enjoy feeling all of your muscles relaxing.
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The most popular use of this versatile herb is, without doubt, as a sleep aid, it is excellent for people suffering from sleep disorders such as insomnia or interrupted sleep patterns. Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is a neurotransmitter that sends chemical messages through the brain and nervous system. Its role is to inhibit or reduce the activity of neurons or nerve cells. In large enough quantities GABA can cause a sedative effect – Valerian root has been shown to increase GABA levels in the brain which can in turn not only reduce the amount of time taken to fall asleep, it can also improve the quality of sleep too. A double blind study conducted by the Foellinge Health Centre in Sweden found that the effects of Valerian on poor sleep were significant. 44 percent of the participants reported perfect sleep, whilst 89 percent reported improved sleep – none of this group reported any side effects either, including morning drowsiness.
This tincture should not be combined with other sleeping pills under any circumstances, but when taken independently, it can provide restful sleep and a refreshed feeling in the morning, without the numbness and grogginess connected to sleeping pills and other medications.
One of the most popular uses of valerian root is for reducing anxiety and stress. The aforementioned GABA also helps to calm anxiety with its regulation of nerve cells. The valerenic acid and valerenol contained in the Valerian root act as anti-anxiety agents, stabilising the central nervous system. The improved GABA levels make it easier for the mind and body to relax, meaning Valerian root can also help to keep your stress levels down – significantly helping with daily stress management, calming down and focusing, rather than feeling overwhelmed. It can also provide mental clarity and eliminate feelings of depression.
ADHD numbers are increasing at unprecedented rates, and hyperactivity is a major problem in educational and public contexts. Valerian root can help calm those hyperactive symptoms and allow users to concentrate and focus with a clear head, while also reducing stress hormones and strain on the body.
If you are suffering from an upset stomach, constipation, bloating, cramping, nausea or indigestion, the antioxidants in valerian root can stimulate positive muscle function and reduce spasms in the gut. This will result in normal bowel movements and a reduction in discomfort.
Valerian appears to work directly on the nervous system as a natural pain reliever. One of the best ways to eliminate a headache or a migraine is with a cup of delicious valerian tea. The natural anti-inflammatory properties of this tea can soothe inflammation in the capillaries and lower blood pressure, helping relieve the pain and tension of most headaches.
Women know that problems related to menstruation and menstrual cycle can be extremely painful and uncomfortable, but valerian root has anti-spasmodic and sedative qualities, which acts as muscle relaxant, helping the uterus relax (as well as all other muscles), reducing pain and discomfort and the need for other pain relievers during menstruation. It can also soothe the mood and re-balance hormones that may be causing irritability or anxiety during your period. It is also helpful in soothing the hot flashes during menopause.
Many people take valerian supplements as brain boosters, but a cup of this beneficial can have many of the same effects. Research has shown that valerian root can increase focus, memory, retention, and neural activity!
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