Did you know that some plants are used as a home remedy to fall asleep? One of the best known is valerian, also scientifically known as Valeriana Officinalis L. , a perennial plant that belongs to the Valerianaceae family and grows in forests and humid grasslands in different regions of Europe, Asia and America.
As we have anticipated, valerian is a medicinal plant that is mainly used to improve the quality of our rest, since it has sedative properties that promote sleep and prevent problems such as insomnia.
Valerian for sleep: properties
Valerian is a medicinal plant that is grown in forests and humid grasslands to collect it later and use its roots for the preparation of home remedies since they are rich in different nutrients such as valepotriates, essential oils, amino acids and flavonoids. Due to these active ingredients, valerian has the following sleeping properties :
- Relaxing properties: thanks to its richness in valepotriates and essential oils, valerian root increases the brain concentration of our GABA neurotransmitters, which causes a relaxing effect on the central nervous system. Due to this effect, valerian is recommended to calm both anxiety and muscle tension.
- Sedative properties: its richness in essential oils gives valerian a powerful sedative effect, which makes it an effective remedy to reduce symptoms of nervousness such as digestive discomfort or the sensation of having a lump in the throat. Its sedative properties are also useful for other nervous disorders such as insomnia, migraine, neurosis, anxiety and stress.
- Hypnotic properties: due to its active ingredients, valerian also has a hypnotic effect that helps to fall asleep and improves its quality. In addition, thanks to these properties and its muscle relaxing effect, it is also a widely used remedy to avoid insomnia and other conditions that impair sleep, such as hyperactivity.
How to take valerian for sleep
As we have seen in the previous section, valerian is a widely used remedy for better sleep due to its relaxing, sedative and hypnotic properties. But how should you take it for it to be effective? Next, we explain what are the different ways to take valerian to sleep :
Despite its bitter taste, valerian infusion is used a lot before going to sleep to improve the quality of rest. To prepare it you will have to boil 1 cup of water and add a teaspoon of chopped valerian root when the water reaches its boiling point. Then you will have to turn off the heat and let it sit for 10-15 minutes. Finally, strain the drink and sweeten it with a little honey to make its consumption more pleasant.
Valerian baths are another way to use valerian for better sleep due to its relaxing properties. To use it in this way, you will have to cook 100 grams of dried root in 1 liter of water for 10 minutes and then add the mixture to the water you have prepared in the bathtub. Once the bath is prepared, all you have to do is get into the water and relax.
As we have indicated, valerian is characterized by its bad smell and bitter taste, which is why many people choose to consume this plant in the form of a capsule to sleep. This food supplement can be made up either with the root powder of the plant or with a hydroalcoholic extract of valerian (that is, an extract that concentrates its active ingredients).
Recommended dose of valerian for sleep
Now that you know the different ways to consume this plant, below, we explain the recommended doses of valerian to sleep and rest:
- Valerian infusion: the recommended dose is 3 cups a day maximum.
- Valerian root powder: up to 6 grams per day is recommended in this format.
- Valerian baths: it is recommended that you stay in the water for 10 minutes.
- Valerian capsules: it is important that you read the leaflet that accompanies the package. They are generally 4 capsules a day (2 tablets at lunch and another two at dinner).
Regardless of the chosen format, generally the duration of the treatment is about 10 days , rested after between 14 and 20 days.
Contraindications of valerian for sleep
Although this is a beneficial medicinal plant, valerian is contraindicated in the following cases :
- Pregnant or lactating women: due to its active ingredients, it can be toxic to the fetus and the nursing baby, through breast milk.
- Children under 3 years of age (internal use) and children under 12 years of age (external use): its hypnotic effect is not recommended during these ages.
- People who consume alcohol: because both compounds are depressants, it can cause severe drowsiness in these cases.
- Use of heavy machinery or vehicles: due to its sedative effect, it is not recommended in these cases as it could cause an accident.
- Allergy: check its composition to avoid a respiratory or food allergy.
- Consumption of certain medications: it is contraindicated in the event that drugs that affect the nervous system or to treat problems such as stress, anxiety or depression are consumed.