Merck Manual

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Valerian

By

Laura Shane-McWhorter

, PharmD, University of Utah College of Pharmacy

Last full review/revision Jul 2020| Content last modified Jul 2020
Click here for the Professional Version

The plant’s dried root contains valepotriates, which may have calming effects. (See also Overview of Dietary Supplements.)

Medicinal claims

People take valerian mostly as a sedative and sleep aid, especially in parts of Europe. Studies have suggested that valerian improves sleep quality and shortens the time needed to fall asleep. In menopausal women with difficulty sleeping, valerian may improve sleep quality.

Some people take valerian for headaches, depression, irregular heartbeat, and trembling, although evidence is insufficient. It is usually used for short periods of time (2 to 6 weeks). There is not enough scientific evidence to determine whether valerian is effective for these conditions. There is now interest in studying valerian to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Possible side effects

Studies suggest that it is generally safe to give valerian at the usual doses. People who are driving or doing other activities requiring alertness should not take it.

Valerian is not recommended for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Possible drug interactions

Valerian may prolong the effect of other sedatives (such as barbiturates) when it is taken with them.

More Information

The following is an English-language resource that may be useful. Please note that THE MANUAL is not responsible for the content of this resource.

NOTE: This is the Consumer Version. DOCTORS: Click here for the Professional Version
Click here for the Professional Version
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