Valerian is a perennial herb, with a light brown or yellow or even gray rhizome and many thick roots (strong smell similar to cat urine). The stem can reach up to 1.50 m high, hollow inside, very straight and slightly branching at the end. The leaves of valerian are in opposition to each other, they are divided into numerous leaflets and slightly serrated. The flowers are small in size and pink and white in color, they gather in a circle at the top of the stem appear from May to August. The fruit is an ovoid achene overhanging a feathery pappus containing only one seed.
Valerian rhizome culture
Valerian originated in temperate Europe and Asia and more precisely in northern Asia, then it spread to America and everywhere in all places almost humid and cool. It prefers the edge of watercourses and wet meadows, marshy areas, ditches. Only the rhizome and the roots contain the therapeutic components, and it is only after two years that they are harvested and preferably from September to November. The harvested parts of the valerian are then dried at low temperature in order to preserve all their properties, then protected in a dry and closed packaging and protected from light.
Valerian its composition
Valerian is composed of many active ingredients, the main elements of which are valerian acids, such as valeranone and terpenic acids with valerenal and organic acid esters, it also contains valerenic acids and iso valerenic acids, malic acids, as well as alkaloids such as valerine and chatinine.
Valerian also contains essential oils, borneol and eugenol, sesquiterpene alcohols with valenol and others like bornyl isovalerate and eugenyl isovalerate, including bitter juices and tannins . There are also esters of epoxy-iridoids with valtrate and solvaltre (valepotriates), sucrose and a resin.
Valerian and its medicinal properties
The use of the medicinal virtues of valerian dates back to ancient Greece with Hippocrates, Dioscorides and Galen who recommended it to treat insomnia problems. Valerian is recognized as being a sedative, relaxing and calming plant, anti-convulsant and antispasmodic, relaxant and antiepileptic.
ESCOP and the E commission
Three major agencies have approved the use of valerian in the treatment of nervous restlessness and anxiety, as well as sleep disorders, namely the World Health Organization (WHO), ESCOP and the E commission.
Valerian is a recognized medicinal plant with tranquilizing properties that do not have the side effects inherent in chemical equivalents, nor habituation, it reduces the nervousness associated with states of stress and anxiety, which allows you to fall asleep faster and better sleep duration and quality. The benefits of valerian give it a therapeutic effectiveness that reduces nervous fatigue, overwork, tension, stress and reduces gastrointestinal or menstruation pain.
Valerian is also used to help during tobacco detoxification, its effects allowing the reduction of symptoms related to this deprivation, anxieties, anxiety, nervousness due to withdrawal, and it brings an unpleasant taste to tobacco.
The anticonvulsant properties contained in valerian, associated with the classic medications given to epileptics, gives it a preventive action of seizures and a beneficial improvement of this state.
Valerian other uses
Valerian is also useful for agricultural cultivation, especially in organic farming, because it attracts earthworms, which allows better aeration and a much better quality of the soil, it is also a plant tonic in liquid manure. Valerian flowers are used as a spice in cooking (Asia Minor), its essential oil is associated with various culinary products. And above all its reputation for attracting cats is well known.
The Greeks and Romans already appreciated valerian, Hildegard of Bingen recommended it against gout and stitches.
Its calming properties were only discovered around 1800: Christoph W. Hufeland recognized that valerian root calms and strengthens the nerves.
It contains substances such as acids, volatile oils, alkaloids such as chatinine and valerine, tannins, acetic and formic acids, valerian epoxytriester, which have the ability to calm and relieve cramps.
Valerian is useful to help with smoking cessation, it calms nervousness and anxiety due to lack of nicotine.
Valerian root calms states of nervousness and promotes sleep, with no drowsiness effect.
Description: Perennial plant with divided, pinnate leaves and pale pink flowers. Habitat and culture: Native to northern Europe and Asia, it is cultivated in central and eastern Europe. Parts used: Root, rhizome. Traditionally used for: sleep disturbances, worry, nervous fatigue, work fatigue (overwork), nervousness, tension, painkillers (internal), anxiety, menstrual pain, cramps, relaxation , stress...
Standardized extract (0.8% valerenic acid, 1-1.5% valtrates): for sleep disorders, 400 mg to 600 mg, 30 to 60 minutes before going to bed; for anxiety, 250 mg to 400 mg, three times a day.
Note. Sometimes it is necessary to take the plant for two to four weeks before fully feeling the benefits, especially in cases of chronic insomnia.