Source and Composition. The root of Valeriana officinalis, a British plant of the nat. ord. Valerianeae. It contains a Volatile Oil, from which are developed by oxidation Valerianic Acid, Valerene and Valerol.
The Valerianic Acid of Pharmacy is a product of the oxidation of Amylic Alcohol (fusel oil);-it is not identical with the acid derived from the plant, though from it are prepared the Valerianates. (See below.)
Preparations. The Oil is by far the best.
- Extractum Valerianae Fluidum,—Dose, ♏x-ʒj.
- Tinctura Valerianae,—strength 20 per cent. Dose, ʒss-ij.
- Tinctura Valerianae Ammoniata,—20 percent. Dose, ʒss-ij.
- *Oleum Valerianae, Oil of Valerian,—Dose, ♏ij-v.
The Ammoniated Tincture and Fluid Extract are extremely nauseous, and the latter is too bulky to be used. The taste is best covered by combination with Cinnamon. The various Valerianates (of Zinc, Ammonia, Iron, and Quinine) are made with the acid produced from Amylic Alcohol, and do not represent the action of the plant, but rather that of the bases from which they are respectively prepared.
Physiological Action. Valerian is generally classed as an antispasmodic, or a nerve tonic. It is powerfully sedative to reflex excitability, and diaphoretic, laxative and anthelmintic. Its taste and odor are horrible, except to cats, they being extravagantly fond of it. It greatly excites the sexual appetite in these animals, probably from the resemblance of its odor to their own when under venereal excitement. After a time it produces in them violent spasms and convulsions.
In full doses it increases the action of the heart and raises the temperature, in most persons producing exhilaration, and in some slight mental disturbance, with formication of the hands and feet. It reduces motility and sensibility, and decreases reflex excitability, being antagonistic to the actions of Strychnine, Brucine, Thebaine, etc. Long used, it induces a condition of low melancholy and hysterical depression. Large doses cause hiccough, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea, with tenesmus of the bladder, frequent micturition, and lithates in the urine. The mental disturbance may proceed even to delirium, while hallucinations and excitement are usually produced, together with great restlessness and spasmodic movements of the limbs.
Therapeutics. Valerian was formerly much used in Epilepsy, but it was probably only useful in the hysterical form (Hystero-epilepsy). It is a valuable remedy in—
- Hysterical Disorders of all kinds,—wherein it is often very beneficial.
- Flatulence of the hysterical and in infants,—is quickly relieved by it.
- Nervous Headache,—is often well treated by the Valerianate of Ammonium in 10-grain doses, administered in the form of an elixir.
- Hypochondriasis,—especially at the climacteric period, with flatulence.
- Coughs of nervous type, and Whooping-cough,—it is often efficient.
- Diabetes Insipidus,—Valerian is more than palliative; in large and increasing doses it is reported as having frequently proved curative.
- Convulsions due to worms,—Valerian is doubly indicated.
- Delirium, with depression of the vital energies,—it is very beneficial.
- Coma of Typhus,—the Oil was remarkably successful in 135 cases out of a series of 172 treated by it.
A Compend of Materia Medica, Therapeutics, and Prescription Writing, 1902, by Sam'l O. L. Potter, M.D., M.R.C.P.L.