- Valerian is a plant native to Europe and Asia; it also grows in North America.
- Valerian has been used medicinally since the times of early Greece and Rome. Historically, valerian was used to treat insomnia, migraine, fatigue, and stomach cramps.
- Today, valerian is promoted for insomnia, anxiety, depression, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), menopause symptoms, and headaches.
- The roots and rhizomes (underground stems) of valerian are used for medicinal purposes.
- Knowledge about valerian is limited because a relatively small amount of research has looked at valerian’s effects on various conditions.
- The evidence on whether valerian is helpful for sleep problems is inconsistent. In its 2017 clinical practice guidelines, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommended against using valerian for chronic insomnia in adults.
- Two small studies suggest that valerian might be helpful for menopausal symptoms, but there is not enough evidence to know for certain.
- There’s not enough evidence to allow any conclusions about whether valerian is helpful for anxiety, depression, premenstrual syndrome, menstrual cramps, stress, or other conditions.
- Research suggests that valerian is generally safe for short-term use by most adults. It has been used with apparent safety in studies lasting up to 28 days. The safety of long-term use of valerian is unknown.
- Little is known about whether it’s safe to use valerian during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.
- Side effects of valerian include headache, stomach upset, mental dullness, excitability, uneasiness, heart disturbances, and even insomnia in some people. A few people feel drowsy in the morning after taking valerian, especially at higher doses. Some people experience dry mouth or vivid dreams.
- Because it is possible (though not proven) that valerian might have a sleep-inducing effect, it should not be taken along with alcohol or sedatives.
- Talk to your health care providers about any complementary health approaches before you use. It may be contraindicated with any medications you are currently taking.