Sleeplessness, stress and anxiety are major problems that many people in different parts of the world struggle to overcome. If you are in this category most probably, you have tried everything to get the quality of sleep you desire. With the sleeplessness becoming a common concern, there are different sleep aids that are brought into the market almost every day but do they all work? How can you know which is the best for your sleep? Normally, it is advisable to understand how a product works, its uses, as well as the expected sided effects before trying it. Herbal supplements for sleep aid have also found their way into the market. One such product is the valerian herbal supplement, which is now commonly used in combating stress, anxiety, and sleeplessness. Valerian is an all-natural remedy obtained from the roots of valerian plan and it is available different forms. How does it work to deal with insomnia, how effective and safe is valerian root?
For years, the valerian root has been incorporated in natural remedies. This can be traced back to the Romans and Greeks when the components of valerian plant were used in brewing medicinal tea. However, presently, valerian is available in dietary capsule or pill forms. In this article, we carry a comprehensive analysis of valerian root. Also we will explore its use in dealing with sleeplessness. Finally we will establish establish whether valerian root is safe and effective as a sleep aid?
How valerian root works
Valerian is an herb that is found in most parts of Asia, Europe, and North America. The roots are considered to have the medicinal elements. Although it is commonly used for combating insomnia, people with psychological stress and anxiety also use it. Understanding the principle behind the use of this plant can help you determine whether it is ideal for you. According to several clinical studies conducted to evaluate the efficient of valerian root in promoting sleep, it seemingly acts as a sedative to the brain. It stimulates the GABA receptor of the brain, which is considered a neurological gateway for the chemicals that induce sleep on an individual. The working of valerian is similar to how most other sleep aids containing benzodiazepines as well as those, which do not contain benzodiazepine, work in fighting lack of sleep. In spite of its popularity in combating insomnia, there is no concrete scientific proof on its neurological effects on the brain.
Use of valerian root as a sleep aid
Despite the fact that there are conflicting research on the use of valerian root as a sleep aid, a large number of the studies indicate that this product has the ability of reducing the amount time one takes to sleep significantly. Most studies show that taking valerian can reduce the fall-asleep time by between 15 and 20 minutes. In addition, it is considered a great supplement in the improvement of the quality of sleep.
Valerian sleep aid can be used in different forms including as valerian tea, pills or capsules, and tinctures. Though inconclusive, reports from the National Institute of Health have showed that the use of valerian, in any form, improves sleep latency and quality among people with mild insomnia.
While valerian can be great relief to your insomnia, it is important to ensure that you take it as expected. Do not just get the word from the internet that valerian root is good for combating sleeplessness and purge into it –it is important to consult a qualified practitioner and follow the dosage. It is only advisable swallow a whole piece of valerian capsule –do not open, break, chew, or crush it. In case you have a forthcoming surgery, it is recommendable to stop the intake of valerian root for about two weeks before the scheduled day of the surgery.
Effectiveness of Valerian root as a sleep aid
According to the U.S Food and Drug Administration, valerian root is ‘generally safe’. In addition, a research carried out in Portugal comprising of trials going over a span of 10 years noted that Valerian root is well tolerated and safe though it has benign and infrequent side effects.
In an interview, Dr. Dick Middleton, the chairperson of the British Herbal Medical Association pointed out that valerian is useful as a reliever of anxiety commonly known to cause insomnia. He also added that there are researches that have been carried out, which highlight the usefulness of the herb in improving sleep quality. Just like any other medicine, the doctor noted that valerian can cause side effects. Nevertheless, Middleton was quick to interject that side effects resulting from the intake of Valerian are significantly mild and rare.
For better results and low cases of side effects, Dr. Dick advised that Valerian is best taken on a regular basis for a maximum of two or four weeks. While there are no cases of harm reported following prolonged use of Valerian, it is important to consult with a physician in case you do not see any signs of improvement after taking for the recommended period.
Valerian side effects
Even though Valerian root has been used for years to combat sleeplessness, a number of people experience diverse side effects. For example, the drugs.com and the National Institutes of Health pointed out the following as the common side effects experienced by people who take valerian root as a sleep aid:
- Dry mouth
- Diarrhea/stomach upset
- Itchy skin
- The opposite effect – insomnia, excitement, and restlessness
- Daytime sleepiness (in cases of larger doses)
Things to consider
While there are numerous studies that advocate for the use of Valerian in combating sleeplessness but reducing the amount of time you need to fall asleep as well as enhance the quality of your sleep, it is important to note that most of these studies have focused majorly on one species of valerian plan –the Valeriana officinalis. In some studies, there have been contrasting results about the efficiency of valerian as a sleep aid, which calls for carefulness.
Here are a few aspects to consider before takin valerian supplement for your sleeplessness:
There are concerns that a majority of the reported cases of lack of sleep are associated with individuals’ lifestyle habits. For example, people who take much caffeine late in the day are likely to take much time before falling into sleep. In other cases, lack of regular exercise, poor sleep schedule may affect your ability to sleep easily. In addition, you can consider adopting the cognitive behavioral therapy where you do not worry about failing to sleep and focus on positive thoughts.
Research how the product works:
Most product claims might not be true, which calls for careful investigation to understand how the product works. It is not advisable to believe on everything the marketing team of the product tells you –read widely and use objective, evidence-based researches on the claims of the products. A good place to find such information is sites such as the National Institutes of Health among others.
Occurrence of side effects:
Despite the fact that valerian is considered fairly safe, it is not exempted from side effects like sleeplessness, stomach upsets, dizziness, or even headaches. In addition, it is not advisable to take valerian if you are pregnant, have liver disease, or give children under 3 years of age.
Interactions with other drugs:
Valerian has a probability of increasing the how other sleep aids function. There are concerns that it increases the sedative effect of drugs in the class of depressants like narcotics, benzodiazepines and alcohol. In addition, it can cause interference to some medications.
Visit a doctor:
Before you can start your valerian dose, it is important to get expertise opinion and advice. Talking to a qualified physician is necessary to get a glimpse of what to expect after you start taking valerian, or even in determining whether it is necessary for your case. A doctor’s opinion is most needed especially when you are taking other supplements or medication because there might be possible interactions with other drugs which can be dangerous.
Is valerian root the solution for your insomnia?
Many people tend to ignore their lack of sleep, or disturbed sleep conditions and instead subscribe to all sorts of sleep aids. Insomnia, if persistent, is an indication of a serious problem like a psychological or medical condition, or even poor sleeping habits. As such, if you are having continuous insomnia, it is advisable to visit a qualified doctor to help you establish the main cause of the insomnia as well as the possible treatment plan. In case you start taking valerian root, make sure that you observe for side effects as well as other reactions that may occur and speak to a doctor should you see some unexpected changes. Otherwise, if the past researches are something to go by, valerian root is a safe and effective herbal sleep aid. However, just like any other medications, there will be those occasional after effects that might not go as expected but make sure that you do not assume anything. Seek medical interpretation as soon as you start experiencing any side effects after taking this herbal sleep aid.