Also see 3.5, Herbs to make you sleep.
From Todd Caldecott (toddius.netidea.com):
Valerian is an excellent herb to use, in combination with other herbs, or used alone. The active constituents are the volatile oil (isovalerianic/enic acid) and valepotriates. Valerian depresses the central nervous system, similar to GABA (which occurs naturally in the brain and inhibits nerve impulse transmission.) There are no cons to taking valerian other than if you use it other than in a capsule it can smell up your house as a tea. Or if you have cats they may rub up and down your leg (they like it, similar to catnip) while you are drinking you tea, causing you to stumble and fall, spilling hot liquid all over yourself. For Valerian to be effective you must take it in sufficient quantities to work e.g. 1-2 tsp. of the tincture (alcohol extract) before bed, or 6-10 capsules of the dried plant. Onset is typically 1 hour. You may awaken a little muddleheaded, which is quickly relieved as soon as you move about. For a daily dose, 5 ml (1 tsp.) of the tincture 3 times a day between meals is the standard dose.
About 20% of the population respond to Valerian as a stimulant, so if you take it and have insomnia or buzzed out, try hops, chamomile, passionflower, skullcap or Avena, which are all excellent herbs to relieve stress, anxiety and insomnia.
>Valerian is the parent of Valium isn't it?
From Michael Moore (hrbmoore.rt66.com):
There is absolutely NO connection between Valerian and Valium...believe me...just an accident of circumstance...Valeriana is a classic Roman Latin reference...Valium is an invented trade name...a copycat name from a pharmaceutical manufacturer to aid in making a conscious or unconscious connection with "Librium", a successful tranq whose market Valium was originally aimed at.
Valerian HAS had some anecdotal use for ADD...the only problem is that extended use of enough Valerian to have value has ALSO brought about emotional lability in some folks. Using herbs as drug substitutes has value, but with Valerian having SO many different physiologic effects (depressant for CNS, stimulant to gastric, pulmonary and cardiovascular functions) it is a botanical that is best used within a constitutional framework...i.e. evaluating the PERSON metabolically to find out if the profile of effects from Valerian is complementary or antagonistic.
From Colette Gardiner coletteg.efn.org:
Re the name Valium and its relation to the name Librium. For some weird reason I actually remember reading an article in the newspaper on the new drug Valium. There was a quote from the inventor basically saying he had been trying to invent something similar to Librium only better. He went on for a paragraph or so about comparing the various sensations and effects, and concluded that yes Valium was "nicer".