Valerian root is an herb that is commonly used for many conditions, such as insomnia, anxiety, headaches and upset stomach. It can be used alone or in combination with other herbs. You can take it in powder form, make a tea out of it, add it to bathwater or add the herb into a pillow to be placed near your head when resting. Herbs are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, so there is often no known recommended dosages that help to manage symptoms. In addition, herbs such as valerian can have side effects, be toxic in high doses and interact with other medications being taken, so consult your doctor to determine the proper dosage for anxiety or any other condition.
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The root of the valerian plant is used to make products such as supplements, capsules, tablets, liquid extracts, teas, compresses and bath additives. Valerian is most commonly used to improve sleep, as it can have a sedative effect. This sedating effect may also help to ease tension, stress and anxiety, however, research is still inconclusive as to how effective it is for any of the above, notes the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. The exact chemicals in valerian that causes a sedative effect are not known.
Valerian is considered safe for most when taken for four to eight weeks, but its safety with long-term use is not known. Side effects are rare but can include headaches, dizziness, itchy skin, upset stomach and nervousness, and its safety in women who are pregnant or nursing or children under age 3 has not been determined, reports the Office of Dietary Supplements. Taking more then 900 mg before bedtime may cause daytime drowsiness. Since valerian can have a sedative effect, it should not be mixed with alcohol or other herbal, over-the-counter or prescription medications that are also sedatives. In addition, not enough research has been conducted to know if valerian interacts with any other medications, so it should only be used under medical supervision.
Since valerian is mostly used for insomnia, there is no specific known dosage amounts for anxiety. To help calm the body for sleep, the University of Maryland Medical Center suggests making a tea by pouring 1 cup of boiling water over 1 tsp. or 2 to 3 g of dried root and steep it for five to 10 minutes. If using a tincture, go for 1 to 1 1/2 tsp. of a mixture that is 1:5, or one part valerian root and five parts liquid, such as water or alcohol. You can also try taking 250 to 600 mg of dried valerian root in tablet or capsule form. For anxiety, start with 200 mg of any of the above, three to four times per day. Everyone has a different sensitivity to valerian, and you may feel the effects with even less.
You may find that you need to take valerian for a while before it starts to work. Effects may not be felt until taking the herb every day for at least one month. Along with reducing anxiety and nervousness, valerian may help you to fall asleep faster and improve the quality of your sleep, if taken two to three hours before bedtime. When choosing a product, it is important to read the labels carefully, as the amount of valerian root in products can vary greatly.