Valerian troubles.

Date: Fri, 8 Mar 1996 22:43:41 EST
From: Shoba Narayan <shoba.I-2000.COM>
Subject: valerian

Has anyone had trouble with Valerian lately? I recently bought a bottle of Nature's Way Valerian capsules. It said to eat 2 capsules at night. My sleep isn't great but it isn't bad either. But it seemed like my sleep got worse the two nights that I ate Valerian- couldn't sleep till midnight. I am now thinking that I should take it back to the shop and return it. Maybe it is a bad sample or something.

what do y'all think?

From: JoAnne Hildebrand <hildebra.EUROPA.UMUC.EDU>

I find that when I drink a cup of valerian tea before bed, I fall into a sound sleep, only to awaken a few hours later, WIDE awake. I no longer use it before bedtime.

From: Colette Gardiner <coletteg.EFN.ORG>

RE sleeplessnes on Valerian. There are some people out there who do not react well to valerian. They will have the opposite effect, insomnia etc.

I haven't seen it often, twice I think in fifteen years, and fortunately mild, it can be quite severe. I've noticed in general that side effects from Valerian do seem to increase the older the herb is. Generally large national brand capsules are quite old before they reach us. I once had a Natures Way rep. proudly tell me that he had seven year old chickweed capsules on his shelf and because they had been packaged by Natures Way they were stronger than ever. (not likely).

Since you have responded well to Valerian in the past perhaps the age of the product is the problem. I would suggest buying tincture from a company that makes there extract from fresh roots or freshly dried roots. Be cautious, I know that other herbalists have seen reactions even with fresh root. I've heard several theories about why different people react poorly to Valerian, mostly constitutional which I tend to mostly ageee with, however both the people I saw who had poor reactions were people who had poor reactions to many chemical sedatives. In one case we had to try a few different herbs before we found one that would work well.

Blessings Colette Gardiner

From: Paul Iannone <p_iannone.POP.COM>

Valerian is a HEATING herb. If that isn't what you need, then the narcotic effect wears off and you're MORE HOT! Then you lay awake all night, in worse shape than if you took no herbs at all. If valerian gets more side-effects through age, then it probably proportionally becomes Hotter as it gets older, as the narcotic aromatics evaporate, or some such thing.

'Insomnia' is quite often a spirit problem, not an organic imbalance. If you are out of balance with your world, a common and perhaps highly necessary condition, you can hardly be expected to sleep like a baby. For such spirit discomfort, herbs like kava, with its Cooling energies, are more useful. Valerian would be more indicated for old persons who are no longer fighting the rat race.

From: Adrienne O'Barr <ASOBARR.SAMFORD.EDU>

I too like to make a tea with valerian root, it does stink, but when you grind it a little bit and put it and some peppermint leaves in a tea together its actually pretty good. Also, the valerian root capsules that I purchased were called "Hops and Valerian" they had other ingredients and work VERY well, I directions say to take 2 capsules per dose but that much has me getting up groggy in the morning.

From: Rene Burrough <100735.543.COMPUSERVE.COM>

Chris asked for some blanks to be filled in about valerian vs hops... and passion flower.

Most medical herbalist in the UK take the stong line that hops is contra-indicated in depression.

Valerian is a tranquilizer in the classic sense. That means it relaxes; it ALLOWS sleep...a natural, healing sleep...when the body wants to sleep. It can "focus the mind's eye" gathering a person's mental resources to get on with the job at hand...for instance, going to sleep, surviving the pain of SOME headaches, relaxing muscles. It is a calming herb. It is an antispasmodic and works on the central nervous system.

Hops is a sedative...causing sleep. It relaxes central nervous activity: palpitations, nervous/irritable coughs, asthma; tension & anxiety; restlessness. It is "superbly suited to reducing higher nervous interference in affairs of enteric nervous system & digestion as a whole" according to the National Institute of Medicial Herbalists.

The bitter action [Valerianic acid is among the bitter component] will increases appetite & bile flow & will relaxe smooth muscle function...making for a happier digestive system which can be part of the insomniac's problem. Not necessarily obvious nor the raid on the fridge in 2 in the morning.

Passion flower is David Hoffman's herb of choice for "instranigent insomnia" aiding the transition into a restful sleep without a narcotric hangover the morning after.

The following quicky comparision courtest Simon Mills _Dictionary of Moderm Herbalism_:
Valerian: tranquilizer, antispasmodic, expectorant, diuretic, warming.
Hops: Sedative, visceral antispasmodic, bitter digestive tonic.
Passion flower:Relaxing antispasmodic eith some sedative propertie; peripheral vasodilator.

Potter's suggests an interaction among various constituents of Valerian which have a primary lowering/depressing of Central Nervous System Actiivty. Hops is touted as a digestive remedy. Passion flower extracts are noted as also having CNS depressant activities and are hypotensive; being used for their sedative & soothing properties.

One caveat about valerian: it potentiates sleeping pills; making them stronger...though I have seen valerian, hops, and passion flower in combo recommended by some medical herbalists.

Sorry I can't fill in the blanks about working or not all through the night. Hope this is a start for someone else to improve on

Rene Burrough

From: Howie Brounstein <howieb.TELEPORT.COM>

>The bitter action [Valerianic acid is among the bitter component] will increases appetite & bile flow & will relaxe smooth muscle function...making for a happier digestive system which can be part of the insomniac's problem. Not necessarily obvious nor the raid on the fridge in 2 in the morning.

Sometimes the acidic qualities of Valerian are too much for weakened stomach conditions. Valerian can cause stomach upset, or irritate ulcers, and so on. I generally sway folks with stomach problems away from this herb.

A non acidic bitter, like Skullcap, might be a better herb in these cases.