Valerian Root for Anxiety

Summary

Anxiety can be a debilitating issue, which harms relationships, work life, and general well being. Using natural options, such as valerian root for anxiety, can help you to reduce feelings of stress and the resulting effects.

The best part about using valerian root for anxiety is that it comes with few of the side effects that usually accompany prescription drugs or other drugs (such as alcohol or marijuana). In this article, we will explain how to use valerian for anxiety treatment and why it works.

Why Valerian Root for Anxiety?

Valerian root is a natural herb found in many parts of the world. It has been used to treat symptoms of anxiety for many hundreds of years, but only recently is modern science catching up.

One of the best reasons to use valerian root for anxiety problems is because of the comparison with prescription drugs. A 2002 study in Phytotherapy Research showed that valerian root was as effective as a prescription drug called diazepam [1].

This drug is usually used in the treatment of “generalized anxiety disorder” (GAD), which many people who suffer from anxiety may have even if undiagnosed by a doctor. There are numerous studies that show valerian root is as useful for treating anxiety as the most powerful drugs.

Symptoms of Anxiety and Valerian Root

Another common issue that people struggle with are the symptoms of anxiety. When someone (perhaps yourself) feels anxious, it is easy to develop certain side effects or actions. These include things like nail biting, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and even restless leg syndrome (RLS).

Numerous studies have found that valerian root treats anxiety symptoms such as OCD and even RLS [2][3]. Of course, the biggest symptom of anxiety is insomnia and poor sleep. This is where the majority of the studies on valerian root are focused.

Sleep, Valerian Root and Anxiety

What many people do not realize is that anxiety can cause problems with sleep. For one thing, people who feel anxious often struggle with insomnia caused by the anxiety. For another, there are situations where sleep quality is impaired as a result of anxiety.

Although one meta-analysis (a study that looks over all the studies and research) showed that there was a minimal benefit of valerian root for sleep, there was a benefit nonetheless [4]. The 2010 Sleep Medicine study found that there was not enough hard data to suggest it could benefit.

Editor’s Note on Valerian Root for Anxiety

My girlfriend has suffered from high levels of anxiety, which have negatively impacted her sleep for many years. In fact, she suffers from slight elements of OCD and restless leg syndrome in addition to poor sleep quality.

The only two things she uses in order to treat her sleep issues are kava and valerian root. Although the valerian root she uses has passionflower in it as well, it is her favorite of the two and seems to be the most effective for her.

While this is purely anecdotal, it is an interesting reminder of how powerful valerian root can be for treating symptoms of anxiety. I’ve seen it on a nightly basis.

Mansal Denton, Nootropedia Editor

Why Does Valerian Root Work So Well?

Like many of the natural nootropics, valerian root has a specific psychoactive compound that can help with the anxiety reducing and sleep inducing effects. This ingredient is called valerenic acid which interacts with the GABA and glutamate receptors in the brain [5].

Both of these systems within the brain are responsible for feelings of calmness and reducing anxiety. Luckily, they are also helpful for sleep in many instances.

Are There Any Risks with Valerian Root?

Anyone who is considering taking valerian root for anxiety should consider the possible side effects and risks of taking any kind of nootropic drug. Many natural compounds have standardization and extract issues. You must be aware of these differences so that you can ensure you get a high quality brand.

Some people try to take valerian root for the purpose of reducing anxiety, but it makes them sleepy or sedated. Obviously this is a negative side effect of valerian root if you are trying to work or complete your daily responsibilities with less anxiety. Falling asleep is not a positive feature of the drug!

Finally, there are some people who take valerian root and experience diarrhea especially when they are at the higher doses. Make sure you keep this in mind so that you can avoid this uncomfortable situation. Use smaller doses at the beginning and progress from there.

What Do People Say About Valerian Root for Anxiety?

Many people have commented about their use of valerian root for treating anxiety. As we have alluded, the drug has even impacted people close to the Nootropedia family!

Additionally, I have experience with most all other sleep supplements/medicines from the stronger ambien and benzos, to the more subtle such as chamomile and valerian. The weaker supplements/herbs seemed to lose effectiveness quickly and not be as consistent as needed. I do enjoy a tea of valerian or passionflower every once in a while…” [6]

Valerian can help but try a capsule. I do find it can irritate my bladder a bit but it does work as a sleep aid…” [7]

References (Click to Expand)
  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12410546
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22718671
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19284179
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20347389
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16512222
  6. https://www.reddit.com/r/Nootropics/comments/2msoa6/sleep_enhancers/
  7. https://www.reddit.com/r/Nootropics/comments/2b1rhz/wake_up_a_lot_during_sleep/