What to Know

A popular choice for sufferers of insomnia or stress is valerian root tea, an herbal synthesis of the valerian root’s dried stem that provides the plant’s beneficial chemicals and sedative qualities. The physiological effects of the root are comparable to prescription drugs like Xanax, in that they both increase levels of gamma aminobutyric acid in the brain that lessens neurological properties of nerves, although valerian is of course much less potent compared to a pharmacological alternative. Valerian has been implemented for its traditional use for hundreds of years by European nations, using it for sleeplessness or as a sedative.

The main purpose of valerian root tea is to assist with sleep. Researchers note that consumption of the tea may take considerable time before improvements are noticed, sometimes as much as a few weeks. However, prominent researchers by colleges such as the University of Maryland have determined valerian root’s effect is both real, and beneficial when tested in comparison with placebos. Valerian’s long-term effect on general anxiety, however, is less documented but it appears to offer some effects that are not yet fully understood and require additional scientific research to determine. However, valerian offers immediately noticeable effects for temporary stress reduction at the time of drinking it.

Valerian comes from the stem of the valerian plant known as valeriana officinalis. The plant itself is notably bitter and the odor is unfavorable as well. However, the tea is not unpleasant to drink and it’s recommended to be sweetened with honey. Valerian root tea is best purchased in a packaged form and typically mixed with other flavors, such as vanilla, to make the tea more palatable. However, the tea can be prepared oneself by growing the valerian root in an herb garden and picking, and drying, the stems of the plants and then crushing them into your own tea bags.

Valerian root tea does have side effects to be cautious about. Due to the neurological effects of the tea, the supplement should be taken seriously and warnings should be followed as if using any other type of medication. For instance, valerian should not be taken with any other drugs that may affect the nervous system, which includes alcohol, painkillers, and other sedatives. In addition, valerian should not be used over a long period of time, as excessive use of the tea may arouse certain very negative symptoms, including paradoxical effects of sleeplessness and excitability. Consult with a doctor before beginning a supplemental diet of the herb.

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