It is only natural to feel nervous or anxious about important business or life events. However, anxiety without a justified reason could be a sign of a mental disorder.
You might be anxious, restless, and stressed about small things. If that is the case, the solution can be to talk to a doctor or try a natural supplement to experience anxiety relief and calmness.
Did you know that they call the valerian root extract nature's Valium? It is a bold claim, which is why we wanted to analyze the potential effectiveness of this plant carefully.
We will start with a general overview, and then move to the scientific research and evidence-backed valerian benefits!
A Basic Overview of the Valerian Plant
The scientific name of this plant is Valeriana officinalis, but we all know it as valerian. The perennial herb originates from Asia and Europe, but it is also popular in North America. It is interesting to note that the Valerian genus contains more than 200 species of plants.
The most frequently used parts of this herb are rhizomes, stolons, and roots. Throughout history, valerian has been popular as a medicinal plant. Even Hippocrates recommended the herb for its therapeutic properties. Today, it can assist with sleeping disorders, Gi distress, ADHD, and other medical conditions.
Research Study 1 (Valerian Root & Relaxation)
Scientists are a bit baffled when it comes to the exact mechanisms of action that the valerian root has on the human body. However, many studies mention that valerian root extract can act as a GABA carrier.
According to scientists, the soothing effect that valerian delivers is because it boosts the levels of GABA. The study explains that the herb can boost GABA release and inhibit its return to nerve cells, which ensures a soothing effect.
The research indicates that there are no adverse side effects of consuming valerian. Except for breastfeeding and pregnant women and children up to three years old, valerian should be safe for adults. However, if you already consume medications, especially sedatives, make sure to consult your doctor first.
Research Study 2 (Valerian Root & Anxiety)
Whether you are feeling under stress or experiencing anxiety, you are looking for a way to relax. The idea is to promote peace of mind and a positive mood. Valerian can help with its anxiolytic characteristics. Multiple studies mention these properties of this herb.
In 2010, Phytomedicine published a study conducted on lab rats. The goal of the study was to assess the anxiolytic properties of valerian root on these animals. The researchers compared the effectiveness of valerian to benzodiazepine.
They gave the rats diazepam, valerian, ethanol, valerenic acid, or a mixture of GABA and valerenic acid. Each of these compounds was administered to different rats at different times.
The comparison of valerenic acid, valerian root extract, and ethanol showed that the herbal compounds brought a clear reduction in anxious behavior.
Research Study 3 (Valerian Root & Anxiety)
Another study put the focus on zebrafish and the anxiolytic characteristics that valerian might demonstrate in these animals. The premise is that adult zebrafish will always choose a black compartment over a white one when allowed.
The results are interpreted that the valerian root may boost their confidence and relieve anxiety symptoms so they gain the confidence to venture into the light.
The study showed that zebrafish endured more in the white section if administered valerian. Another interesting thing concluded by this research is that glutamate receptors also play a role in delivering a sedative and anxiolytic effect.
Research Study 4 (Valerian Root & Stress)
When it comes to combining valerian root with other herbs, that could secure an improved anxiolytic effect. For example, a study conducted in 2006 showed that the combination of valerian and lemon balm could help people under stress. The researchers who did the experiment hired 24 volunteers. These participants received valerian and lemon balm mixture of various doses and a placebo.
According to the results, the researchers noticed that a 600-milligram dose of the herbal mixture is enough to mitigate the stress-induced in laboratory settings. That is an indicator valerian root could provide stress relief and relax you when you feel tense.
Research Study 5 (Valerian Root & Stress)
Another similar study was conducted in 2002 in the United Kingdom. In this research, the scientists combined valerian and kava herbs. A total of 54 volunteers agreed to participate in mental stress activities.
The results showed that valerian may be capable of decreasing physiological reactivity, which can assist in navigating stressful periods.
Research Study 6 (Valerian Root & Sleep)
An optimal sleeping pattern can be crucial when dealing with chronic stress and anxiety. Sleeping helps to rest, which promotes a positive mood, overall health, and well-being.
A meta-analysis and review of studies on this topic showed that valerian could enhance adult patients' sleep quality.
The review included 16 studies with over 1,000 patients. Although the doses of valerian varied significantly, six studies showed there was a considerable benefit from consuming this herbal extract. The studies also confirmed that using the plant is safe and free from side effects.
Research Study 7 (Valerian Root & Sleep)
Interesting research was published in 1989. Although it occurred more than three decades ago, the results are encouraging. From a total of 27 patients that had stress-inducing thoughts, causing them problems to sleep well.
44% Reported they slept perfectly after consuming valerian. Almost 90% of the participants admitted that they slept considerably better than before.
Research Study 8 (Valerian Root & Stress)
Valerenic acid, one of the active compounds of the herb, can keep users safe from psychological and physical stress. It is a claim made by research published in 2015.
According to the results, the optimal intake of valerian can reduce norepinephrine and serotonin turnover. That is how valerian can assist in reducing stress levels.