VALERIAN (Valeriana officinalis)

Family: Valerianaceae

Parts commonly used: Root and rhizome.

Properties/energetics: Sedative, anodyne, hypnotic, antispasmodic, carminative, hypotensive/Warm; bitter, spicy.

Systems predominantly affected:  Nervous, digestive, reproductive.

Uses: Valerian is sedative and antispasmodic. Its actions suit some people well, whereas a few others are bothered by it. The Eclectics addressed this issue, noting that Valerian has a warming, stimulating effect on the body. Therefore, it was recommended for people having poor blood circulation in general, but particularly in the brain and the nervous centers. Valerian was often used for anxiety, despondency, and nervousness in individuals whose face and skin looked pale and lifeless and whose skin and body felt cool. Valerian was contraindicated for people showing the opposite appearance, who were anxious or expressive. (Dr. Finley Ellingwood, one of the most prominent Eclectics, said of Valerian,  “In  conditions where the nervousness is induced by hyperactivity, actual increased nerve force, it is not the remedy.” Besides its wonderful relaxing effects, Valerian is also antispasmodic. In the gastrointestinal tract, it is a great intestinal relaxant and carminative, while also working well for uterine tension. It has also given relief to individuals experiencing shakes and other physical symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.

Combinations: Use with Rosemary and/or Schisandra for cerebral anemia, for which symptoms include a pale face, slow, monotone language, and despondent, gloomy depression that causes insomnia. Use with Wild Yam and Cramp Bark for pain and cramping.

Affects on specific body types: Valerian’s stimulating, warming nature does not work well for the Warrior, who tends to already have too great a blood flow to the brain and too great a nerve force. This is a remedy for nervousness and irritability that comes secondarily to deficiency, which is often found in the Seer, although its warming nature also suits the Monarch. For the Seer, this can be a wonderfully relaxing remedy, bringing a feeling of ease and warmth to the mind and body in general. It is a particularly useful remedy when there is intestinal tension leading to gas, cramps, constipation, or conditions related to irritable bowel syndrome. To treat the insomnia of Seers and Monarchs who tend to wake up from sleep at night, Valerian in higher doses is most effective. However, it is not so effective for sleep onset (falling asleep). For its tonic effect, Valerian is best taken as a fresh plant extract.

Preparations/dosage: Infusion: 1/2 to 1 cup as needed. Tincture: 15 to 25 drops three times a day or as needed. Decoction: For best results, this herb can be lightly decocted, but never boiled.

By James Green, Herbalist, copyright 2008

For more information please refer to James Green’s book, The Male Herbal, 2nd Edition