An herb entry from the Ancient Herbs and Modern Herbs book by James K. Sayre, Copyright, 2001. All rights reserved.


Valerian - Valeriana officinalis (Cimicifuga foetida) - family: Valerianaceae (Valerian Family).

This is a rhizome-based perennial plant that grows to about six feet high. It has aromatic compound leaves with toothed oval-to-lance-shaped bright green leaflets. In the summer it bears clusters of tiny pink-to-white flowers. Roots have been traditionally used in the Middle East as a spice. Used as a flavoring for baked goods, ice cream, liquors and condiments. It is one of the ancient medicinal herbs, its recorded use dating back about twenty-five hundred years. Its rhizome and roots have been a traditional European folk remedy for anxiety, depression, epilepsy, headaches, high blood pressure, indigestion, insomnia, nervous hysteria and pain. Traditional European folk use of roots stuffed into a pillow as a remedy for insomnia. Approved by the German Commission E as a remedy for anxiety, insomnia and nervousness. Modern American folk use of rhizome and roots as a remedy for back pain, diverticulosis, diverticulitis, pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) and stress. Some authorities suggest that an extract of rhizome and roots may prove of value in easing the symptoms of the Attention Deficit Disorder. Traditional European folk use of rhizome and roots as a poultice for cuts, skin problems and wounds. Rhizome and roots used as the base for an herbal tea. Valeric acid, which is distilled from the rhizome and the roots, is regarded as safe and is approved by the U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in food. Note: do not use if pregnant or nursing. Note: side effects may include blurred vision, headache, indigestion or nausea. Note: one author suggests that this herb should not be ingested over a long period of time. Note: the sudden and complete stoppage of taking Valerian may cause problems; dosage should probably be decreased slowly over a number of days. Note: large doses of Valerian may cause mental depression. Note: continuous use of Valerian may cause mental depression. Note: do not use if suffering from liver problems. Note: side effects may include blurred vision, diarrhea, headache, heart palpitations, indigestion, nausea and vomiting. Note: do not use in conjunction with prescription sedatives, tranquilizers or alcohol. Listed in United States Pharmacopoeias from 1820 to 1930. Native to Europe and Asia. Naturalized in New England in North America. Cultivated as an ornamental in North America.



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Web page last updated on 25 May 2003.