Effects of Valerian Root on the Heart

For more than 2,000 years, holistic healers have turned to Valerian root as a naturopathic treatment for anxiety, insomnia and mood disturbances. Although limited studies suggest that Valerian can safely treat these conditions, few studies have conclusively evaluated its overall effects on the human body. In addition to possessing sedative and anxiolytic effects, Valerian root may alter the function of the heart. Consult your health care provider before using Valerian supplements, particularly if you have a heart condition or take medication for any purpose.

A large pile of cut Valerian root. (Image: KathyKafka/iStock/Getty Images)

Dependence

Valerian root may cause cardiovascular symptoms of addiction, according to the National Institutes of Health. After several months of continuous high-dose use, you may experience a rapid heartbeat when you discontinue taking the supplements. Other withdrawal symptoms include flushing and confusion. However, the University of Maryland Medical Center reports that these addiction-like withdrawal symptoms are rare.

Congestive Heart Failure Treatment

The NIH regards Valerian as a theoretical but unproven treatment for congestive heart failure. Although no studies have evaluated the efficacy of this alternative remedy, naturopaths may recommend it alongside other herbs such as hawthorne. Mayo Clinic suggests a variety of natural remedies, including diet and exercise, to treat congestive heart failure and related conditions. Consult a qualified practitioner before using any herb to treat heart failure or any other condition.

Blood Pressure Reduction

As a sedative, Valerian may temporarily cause a slight reduction in blood pressure and heart rate. Although the NIH acknowledges Valerian root's potential use as a treatment for hypertension, no studies have demonstrated its safety or efficacy. It is unclear whether Valerian can be safely taken alongside drugs that lower blood pressure, so it is best to use Valerian under a physician's guidance so that your health care provider can observe any potentially dangerous alterations in blood pressure.

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