Relaxing herbal tea
Valerian extract is one of the most popular herbal remedies in the world. Its main uses today are for anxiety and insomnia.
However, it has been used for centuries as an herbal medicinal to treat a variety of other conditions, including headache, menstrual problems, muscle spasms, nerve pain and stomach cramps.
Side effects and safety
Valerian causes drowsiness, which is why it makes an effective sleep aid. For daytime use, it is best to use it in low doses throughout the day.
Side effects at recommended dosages are minor, if any. The most common side effect is upset stomach. Allergic reactions are rare.
Long term use may cause headache, restlessness, sleeplessness and heart palpitations. Rarely, valerian may have a stimulating rather than sedating effect on some people.
Valerian is on the Food and Drug Administration’s list of herbs generally regarded as safe. It is approved for insomnia and anxiety by Germany’s Commission E. It is a common ingredient in many over-the counter sleep aids in the United Kingdom.
Extensive research has been done, mainly in Europe, on valerians effectiveness as a sleep aid.
Choosing a valerian extract product
The dosage of valerian will vary depending on the type of preparation you are using, and also its intended use. It is important to note, that in most of the research done in Europe, a standardized extract was used. These extracts are generally 0.8 percent valeric or valerenic acid.
Since potency of commercial products will vary, it is recommended that you look for a standardized extract. It is also advised that you follow the manufacturer”s dosage recommendations on whatever preparation you are using.
Studies have shown that higher doses of valerian extract do not produce additional benefits for most people. Some recommendations, for safety sake, keep maximum daily dosage at 15 grams of the plant material. This would be eqivalent to: 3 teaspoons of the crushed herb, or 15 to 20 drops of tincture diluted in water, up to several times a day, or tea made with 1 teaspoon of valerian in 1 cup hot water twice a day and at bedtime.
To make a relaxing tea with valerian:
Steep 1 teaspoon of the powdered root in 1 cup hot water for 10 to 15 minutes and then strain. It is suggested that you cover the cup to keep the lighter oils from escaping. You may want to sweeten the tea with honey or sugar and add lemon for flavor as valerian has a musty aroma and flavor.
Recommended dosages for anxiety and stress:250 mg twice a day of the powdered extract in pill form15 to 20 drops tincture (1:5) in water, several times daily300 to 400 mg per day of standardized product (0.8 percent valeric acid)
Germany’s Commission E recommends drinking the tea several times a day, if needed, for anxiety and nervousness.
Recommended dosages for insomnia (taken 30 to 45 minutes before bed):150 to 300 mg of a standardized extract (0.8 percent valeric acid)300 to 400 mg in nonstandardized capsules1 cup valerian tea (made with above recipe)250 to 500 mg of the powdered extract in pill form1/2 to 1 teaspoon of tincture in water
Valerian extract is often combined with other calming herbs to heighten its sedative effects. Chamomile, hops, passionflower and lemon balm are some that are commonly used.