Valerian. Valeriana officinalis.

Botanical name: 

Part Employed—The rhizome and roots.

Volatile oil, valerianic, malic, acetic and formic acids; tannin, sugar, starch, mucilage, extractive, resin.


Extractum valerianae fluidum, fluid extract of valerian. Dose, ten minims to two drams.
Specific valerian. Dose, five to sixty minims.
Tinctura valerianae ammoniata, ammoniated tincture of valerian. Dose, one to two drams.
Oleum valerianae, oil of valerian. Dose, one to five minims.

Physiological ActionValerian in large doses stimulates the brain, causing headache, giddiness, perverted vision, restlessness, agitation, nausea. Large doses of the oil cause increase of urine with slow pulse and drowsiness, ending in deep sleep. It lessens sensibility, motility and reflex excitability, and, if the dose be large enough, causes central paralysis. The first effect is stimulation, followed by depression of the nerve centers.

Specific Symptomatology—Valerian is not a narcotic. Its influence upon the nervous system is best obtained when the circulation of those centers is inactive and feeble, especially when there is a paleness of the face and the skin is cool. It is directly indicated in hysterical conditions of whatever character with feebleness; with nervous excitement, and morbid vigilance, in hysterical epilepsy, and in nervous headaches with some pallor. It is excellent in the hysteria and nervous disturbances incident to the menopause. Its general soothing effect in all these cases is desirable. It controls distress and imaginary pain and produces quiet, permitting sleep and rest.

Therapy—This agent has long been known as a nervine. It is gentle and soothing in its influence upon the nervous system, especially upon the spinal centers. It is applicable in the nervousness of depression because of its gentle stimulating influence, and in these cases its influence is heightened by combining it with stimulants.

This result is effectually obtained from the valerianate of ammonium, which is the most active of the valerian compounds. In conditions where the nervousness is induced by hyperactivity—actual increased nerve force—or where there is organic disease, it is not the remedy.

The agent exercises a good influence in combination with cimicifuga in the treatment of chorea. Its influence upon disordered motility, although not marked, is similar to that of cannabis indica, hyoscyamus and scutellaria.

In pruritus, with nervous excitement from feebleness, it is a desirable agent. It has been used in stomach disorders and in diabetes, but its influence is not marked in these cases.

The American Materia Medica, Therapeutics and Pharmacognosy, 1919, was written by Finley Ellingwood, M.D.
It was scanned by Michael Moore for the Southwest School of Botanical Medicine.