Valerian health benefits: soothes and helps you sleep

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Garden valerian for tranquillity

Garden valerian for tranquillity

Originally published on Herbal Medicine from Your Garden

Valerian or garden valerian, Valeriana officinalis, is also known as garden heliotrope and sometimes as all-heal (although this name is also used for selfheal, Prunella vulgaris, which I will talk about in my next post). It’s closely related to the American valerian, Valeriana sitchensis, which is sometimes used in the same way. It is not related to nerve root (also sometimes called American valerian) or to Jacob’s ladder (sometimes called Greek valerian).

Valerian is a hardy perennial, growing to a height of 150cm (5′), which prefers moist soil in sun or dappled shade. The scent is attractive to cats, dogs, horses, rats and mice.

The part of the plant which is used is the root, which is usually dug up in the fall of the second year and either used fresh or dried, or distilled for oil. If you intend to use it, you will therefore need to sow seed every year, so as to have fresh supplies.

Please note that valerian is not suitable for anybody suffering from disorders of the liver. Prolonged use may lead to addiction, so don’t use valerian for periods longer than 3 months tops.

Make a decoction from 30g (1 ounce) of fresh root or half that quantity of dried to 570ml (2½ US cups or 1 UK pint) of water. Place the ingredients in a small saucepan, bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Continue to simmer until the liquid has reduced by half (about 20 minutes), then strain and allow to cool. The correct dose is no more than a tablespoonful a day, and it is used for anxiety, insomnia, hypertension (high blood pressure), and cramps including those associated with menstruation and irritable bowel syndrome. It can also be used externally to treat eczema, ulcers, cuts and grazes.

I offer valerian capsules in my online shop.

As you probably realize, valerian intended for use as a herbal remedy should be grown organically, to avoid polluting its active constituents with foreign chemicals. To find out more about growing organic valerian, visit the Gardenzone.

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