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Valerian

Valeriana officinalis

Caprifoliaceae – honeysuckle family

  • garden valerian1

Details & Ingredients

BOTANICAL DESCRIPTION


Valerian is a perennial upright plant with compound, mostly opposite dark green lance-shaped leaflets and a hollow stem.3,4 The flowers of the plant are small in size and in a compound cyme arrangement of terminal clusters in white or pink.3,6 The plant’s roots are aromatic, somewhat fleshy and white to yellow, growing in creeping rhizomes.3,4

rhizome with root

Prominent Constituents Reported in the Scientific Literature:
Volatile oils, sesquiterpenes, valepotriates and phenolic acids.2,6

USES


Promotes Relaxation & Restful Sleep*

DID YOU KNOW?


Cats are attracted to Valerian just like catnip!

INFORMATION


While Valerian is native to Europe and Asia, it has now become naturalized in North America.3 The herb is also cultivated in Europe, Japan, and the United States.3 It prefers a habit of meadows, scrubs, or woods.6

Ethnobotanically, local Valerian species have varied indigenous use, such as food, charms, Native Herbalism for people and horses, as a smoke/incense plant, and in ceremony by the many tribes located throughout the northern states of the US and Canada.5

The herb prefers moisture and rich, heavy loam soil.4 Propagation occurs by runners or seed.4 If cultivating the plant and flowering stems appear, cut them off so the plant can shift its energy to the root.4 Then harvest the underground parts in the fall of the same year.4

The potent scent of Valerian root has an interesting effect on people and certain animals. Most people have a strong reaction to the scent, whether it’s love at first smell or complete opposition. In the Middle East, the scent was revered and the root was used to create aromatic baths.4 In the Middle Ages, people used the root in herbalism, as well as a perfume and a culinary spice.4 Valerian root scent has an intoxicating effect on cats similar to catnip.4 It has been said that the Pied Piper of Hamelin smelled of the irresistible Valerian root to lure the rats to follow him, as they are also attracted to the scent.4

  1. McGuffin M, Kartesz J. American Herbal Products Association’s Herbs of Commerce, 2nd ed. Silver Springs, MD: Publication of the American Herbal Products Association; 2000.
  2. Skenderi G. Herbal Vade Mecum. Rutherford, NJ: Herbacy Press; 2003.
  3. Van Wyk B, Wink M. Medicinal Plants of the World, 5th ed. Portland, OR & London, England: Timber Press: 2012.
  4. Grieve M. A Modern Herbal, Vol. 2, 2nd ed. New York, NY: Dover Publications; 1982.
  5. Native American Ethnobotany DB. 2003-2018. Native American Ethnobotany Database (NAEB, 21 November 2018). Dearborn, MI 48198 USA.
  6. American Herbal Pharmacopoeia. Valerian. American Herbal Pharmacopoeia and Therapeutic Compendium. 1999. Scotts Valley, CA 95067 USA.

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