More Sleep Aids: Valerian Root

Melatonin is not the only supplement that can be helpful putting you to sleep.  Valerian root has been shown to work better than benzodiazepines (typical sleep aids) for insomnia (Eur J Med Res 2002; 25; 7: 480-6). And another study found that only a single dose can be effective in helping to improve sleep (Holist Nurs Pract. 2009 Jul-Aug;23(4):253-6.). To date, researchers have conducted studies with valerian on 1093 patients, with the outcome of a statistically significant benefit (Am J Med. 2006 Dec;119(12):1005-12.).

The active “ingredient” in valerian root is valerenic acid, which, like benzodiazepines, works on the GABA-nergic system in your brain. GABA is one of the main neurotransmitters in your nervous system and regulates neuronal excitement.

Valerian should not be taken if one is on benzodiazepines, barbiturates, epileptic drugs.

If you are having trouble sleeping, talk to your health care provider about supplementing with Valerian root.

Figure 22-2 Sleep architecture: changes over the life cycle. REM, Rapid eye movement sleep; SWS, slow wave sleep; WASO, wake after sleep onset.
(From Ohayon MM, Carskadon MA, Guilleminault C, Vitiello MV: Meta-analysis of quantitative sleep parameters from childhood to old age in healthy individuals: developing normative sleep values across the human lifespan, Sleep 27:1255-1273, 2004.)