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Valeriana officinalis

Also known as: Setwall, all-heal, amantilla, fragrant valerian. 

© Copyright Lairich Rig and licensed for reuse under Creative Commons Licence.


Valerian is a well known herb with a bad rap. The plant smells terrible, and the root even worse. I say it smells like diabetes because it has that sticky sweet smell diabetics get when their blood sugar is extremely and chronically out of  control. That nasty smell comes from a compound that is also one of nature’s strongest nervines. Valerian is best used in compounds or capsules as it is easier to mask the taste this way. “Used wherever nervous tension, overactivity, or an inability to relax are present, valerian’s gently sedative action helps to soothe and slow a nervous system that is beginning to spin out of control. It is one of the first herbs to consider when a remedy is needed to ease anxiety and panic attacks.” -Andrew Chevallier –  Herbal Remedies Taken internally Valerian is a

  • Pain and anxiety relieving, calming, and antispasmodic.
  • Used for stress, insomnia, nervous tension, and migraine.
  • Commonly treats PMS, stress, headaches and tension.
  • It decreases muscle spasms, menstrual cramps, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and nervous indigestion.
  • It is used to induce sleep and does not interfere with the natural sleep cycles like prescription medications do allowing you to wake up refreshed and ready for the day.
  • Calming hyperactive children
  • The leaf can be included in ointments and massage oils as an analgesic and is wonderful for healing wounds.
  • As a treatment along with hops and skullcap, for hypertension during labor.
  • A tincture can be taken to stop the after labor “shakes”.
  • It is recommended in a tincture with blue cocosh, and witch-hazel for an anti-hemmorhage tincture.
I personally use valerian for anxiety, insomnia, and when I have pushed too hard physically. It is a wonderful pain reliever and muscle relaxer. Many main stream sites say not to use valerian while breast feeding, but, as it is safe to use with children, in recommended doses I feel safe using it while breastfeeding. You can make that assessment your self though. None of my herbal books are worried about safety during pregnancy or breastfeeding. 

Cautions: Valerian is not habit forming, and when taken in recommended doses, does not produce a groggy side effect the next day. Valerian can rarely cause headaches, depression, and palpitations if overused. Take in recommended doses only, or increase doses slowly. People taking medications for insomnia or anxiety, such as benzodiazepines, should not combine these medications with valerian. Can cause drowsiness so avoid when driving or using machinery.

Before taking any natural supplements be sure to consult your natural health care provider, herbalist, acupuncturist or other holistic practitioner. This is not intended as medical advice but for informational purposes only.

Be sure you get your herbs from a trusted source. I get mine from Mountain Rose Herbs (an affiliate) and can not tell you how happy I am with the quality of their herbs. Mountain Rose Herbs. A herbs, health and harmony c This blog shared on: Frugal Days Sustainable Ways, Healthy 2 DayPenny Pinching PartyHomemaking Link Up,  Super Link Party,  Wildcrafting WednesdayNatural Living Link UpYour Green Resource

About Amanda

Amanda is a mother of two amazing toddlers. She is an herbalist, natural living guru, and real food, gluten free eating pro. She loves to help educate others on how to take control of their own health through natural living, real food, herbs, essential oils, and most of all - a positive mind set. Her other business Natural Herbal Living Magazine is all about helping people learn about how to use one herb a month on a deep and profound level.
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6 Responses to Valerian: An Herbal Primer

  1. Sarah says:

    Did you use Valerian while pregnant and trying to conceive?

    • Amanda says:

      I used St. John’s Wort while pregnant. It would not be a problem while trying to conceive, and none of my books warn against using it while pregnant, but since it filters through your liver I would probably avoid using it daily while pregnant.

  2. Do you have any recipies on how to prepare the Valerian for personal usage?

    • Amanda says:

      There would be different combinations of herbs to use with valerian in different situations. You can combine it with skullcap and hops as a great nervine and sedative. You can use it with yarrow, basil, and capsacian for pain. There are all sorts of great combinations. If you can be more specific I can work on a recipe post for you.

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  4. Great info!
    Thanks for sharing with my Super Link Party! 🙂

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