Valeriana Officinalis: properties, uses and benefits

The Valeriana whose scientific name is Valeriana Officinalis L. is a plant belonging to the Valerianaceae family , also known as the “cat grass”, since cats are very attracted to it Its sedative, hypotensive, calming, de-stressing properties are now known to all. An Valerian-based herbal tea is in fact excellent in case of nervous tension and hyperactivity, when we spent a day with frenetic rhythms, or when we simply need to relax. Its tranquilizing and relaxing properties guarantee a mild sedative effect without causing addiction.

The name derives from the Latin valeo which means feel good.

The plant

The plant is a perennial herb that can reach up to 2 m in height, with pinnate leaves and white or red flowers arranged in umbrella structures. The stem has vertical lines. Its habitat preferred are the places with high humidity and dark areas, such as forests and grasslands .; indeed in Europe the rivers grow spontaneously long. The characteristic unpleasant smell of the dried plant, non-existent in the fresh one, is due to the presence of isovaleric acid which makes it difficult to drink on its own in the form of an infusion. It is easier to find it together with other relaxing plants like chamomile, hawthorn or lemon balm.

Part of the plant used

The used parts of Valeriana are the root and the rhizome that are harvested in spring and autumn and dried at a temperature of around 40 °.

Active principles

  • Essential oil, mostly composed of valerenic acid, valerenal and valeranone.
  • Antioxidants including flavonoids and tannins.


Nervousness, insomnia, anxiety, palpitations, stress, hyperexcitability, tension headaches, premenstrual syndrome, menstrual pain and menopausal disorders, hypertension, panic attacks, palpitations; also effective on tense muscles, abdominal cramps, irritable bowel syndrome and asthma attacks thanks to its antispasmodic action.

Valerian, scientific studies validate its effectiveness

The powerful effects of Valeriana are not due to a single component, but to a set of elements of which the plant is composed which in synergy exert a therapeutic action. Numerous studies, including the 2003 one by Francis and Dempster, have validated its effectiveness in case of insomnia and nervousness ( 1 ). Valeriana can be taken alone or combined with other herbs such as passionflower, lemon balm, escolzia.

Phytotherapeutic preparations and dosages

Valerian-based phytotherapeutic products are generally found in the form of hydro-alcoholic extract (75% alcohol), or dry extract in tablet form. Both preparations are for internal use. At the beginning it is advisable to start by taking small doses and, in case, increase the dosage if necessary. It is obviously advisable to do so under strict medical supervision and with the advice of the herbalist doctor; never exceed the recommended doses and it is advisable to follow the instructions on the package insert.


  • Hydro-alcoholic solution: it is recommended to take 70/80 drops, twice a day.
  • Tablets : take 2 tablets as needed in case of anxiety, palpitation and nervousness, without exceeding the recommended dose on the package insert.
  • To relax : the use of Valeriana alone is not recommended due to the unpleasant odor that the plant gives when infused or boiled, therefore it is advisable to associate the plant with synergistic drugs such as green anise, bitter orange, lavender, hops , jasmine, chamomile, hawthorn, in order to make both the fragrance and the taste more pleasant.
  • In case of insomnia : Valerian can be associated with Hypericum in case of insomnia, anxiety disorders and depression.
  • Infusion for asthma attacks: prepare an infusion by putting 50 g of dried roots and cut into small pieces in 1 liter of water; after boiling everything for 15 minutes, leave on for another 5 minutes, add brown sugar or honey and sip slowly throughout the day.

Naturopath’s advice for a valerian based supplement

Sleeping well is essential not only to face everyday life, but also to stay healthy. Anxiety stress and poor diet are among the main causes. And when we can’t make it, we can help ourselves with natural products. The synergy of Passiflora Valeriana and Melissa to sleep well by Sedanam

Contraindications and warnings

Valeriana is a fairly safe plant and the scientific literature does not report particular contraindications. Despite this it is good not to take Valeriana if you are forced to drive cars; the intake can cause dizziness and facilitate drowsiness.Taking a high dose can cause headache, hypotension, nausea, agitation, impaired vision, confusion.Use with caution in children and pregnant women and only after consulting a doctor.

Caution in the use of natural remedies

For health problems or curative purposes it is always recommended a cautious use and only on prescription and control of the doctor or herbalist. The herbal properties and indications of the plants are given as an indication only and do not constitute any type of prescription or medical prescription.

Why use herbs to have a relaxing effect?

From my experience as an aesthetic teacher, researcher and operator in manual and conservative disciplines, I can certainly say that natural medicine offers a whole range of possibilities to intervene on disorders, blemishes and health conditions that require a targeted and non-harmful intervention. Men of all ages have always drawn on this immense pharmacy that offers nature, implementing decisive interventions on more or less serious health conditions, seeking therapeutic remedies from the natural world, precisely in order to find a satisfactory solution to one’s ills.

The possibility of combining the knowledge of traditional medicine with the powerful effects of herbal medicine makes man powerful advantages regarding his health and beauty. Humans evolved along with plants, and this has meant that we had a good culture on this, something that later on underwent devaluation, with a decrease in herbalist practices and a propensity for pharmacology. In everyday practices, nature has given way to chemistry, to synthetic molecules, and most people do not know the therapeutic value of the dried leaves or the virtues of some plants, even if they actually use them as spices in the kitchen. Plants as well as being aromatic have an infinite series of virtues and offer an immense wealth of possibilities for the care and maintenance of the harmony of body and spirit, in addition to being cheaper and usable than many drugs. In this case the Valerian offers itself as a valid remedy for states of anxiety, insomnia, irritation and nervousness,

It is clear that the phytotherapic preparation must not be the substitute of any drug therapy prescribed by the doctor, but its use, if anything, with the doctor himself can be taken into consideration.


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