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Valerian Root Vs. Valium

by
author image Jenna Cee
Jenna Cee has been writing professionally since 2006. Her articles appear on 2Athletes.com and Women's Fitness Online. She is a personal trainer certified by the National Academy of Sports Medicine and as a fitness and sports nutritionist through the International Sports Sciences Association. Cee holds a Master of Science in human nutrition from Washington State University.
Valerian Root Vs. Valium
Valium or valerian root may help lower your anxiety levels. Photo Credit stress image by Andrii IURLOV from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>

If you suffer from anxiety, whether it is social anxiety or general anxiety, certain dietary supplements or prescription medications can possibly help you. Two of the more popular treatments are the dietary supplement valerian root and the prescription medication Valium. Before you attempt to treat your anxiety, consult your doctor to see which is the best solution for you.

General Information

Valium and valerian root belong to a two separate classes of treatments. Valium, generically known as diazepam, is a prescription benzodiazepine. According to the Center for Substance Abuse Research at the University of Maryland, oral benzodiazepines are among the most commonly prescribed depressant medications for anxiety relief and muscle relaxation. Valerian root is a natural herbal dietary supplement that can be purchased without a prescription and that may exhibit and offer similar treatment as Valium, according to Colorado State University. The University of Maryland Medical Center states that valerian has been used for centuries to treat insomnia, anxiety and nervous restlessness. Both Valium and valerian root are thought to affect the level GABA amino acids in your brain, which are related to increased anxiety levels.

Effectiveness for Treatment of Anxiety/Stress

Clinical evidence suggests that valerian root and Valium may be comparable treatments of anxiety and stress. According to the Langone Medical Center at New York University, in a 2002 study published in the "Journal of Phytotherapy Research," for the treatment of general anxiety disorder, valerian root and Valium showed no statistical differences. Langone Medical Center suggests that is likely because of the small size of the study, but the findings still appear promising. Herbal remedies are generally not as effective as their pharmaceutical counterparts, but may present alternatives or substitutes for more mild cases of bouts of anxiety.

Safety

Safety concerns of benzodiazapines make valerian root preferable to Valium. Colorado State explains that benzodiazapines are highly addictive and tolerance can build within a week. Valerian root is among the herbal substances that are "generally regarded as safe" by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Unlike Valium or other benzodiazapines, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, valerian does not appear to cause dependency or withdrawal symptoms if you discontinue use. The primary concern with valerian is the potential adverse interactions with other medications. You should speak to your doctor first if you use medications to treat anxiety, insomnia or depression or if you drink alcohol on a regular basis.

Warning

If you are considering substituting valerian for Valium, it is very important that you speak with a medical professional before you try to do so. Discontinuing benzodiazapines such as Valium can cause withdrawal symptoms, such as rapid heartbeat, nausea, vomiting and seizures. Do not try to combine valerian and Valium to treat stress or anxiety symptoms. Use both treatments separately and as you were directed.

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