Valerian has been used to ease insomnia, anxiety, and nervous restlessness since the second century A.D. It became popular in Europe in the 17th century. It has also been suggested to treat stomach cramps.
Valerian is a great bitter herb that is used to lower blood pressure, reduce pain and aid sleep. Scientists aren't sure how valerian works, but they believe it increases the amount of a chemical called gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. GABA helps regulate nerve cells and has a calming effect on anxiety. Drugs such as alprazolam (Xanax) and diazepam (Valium) also work by increasing the amount of GABA in the brain.
Studies show that valerian reduces the time it takes to fall asleep and improves the quality of sleep.
Valerian is often combined with other sedating herbs, such as hops (Humulus lupulus) and lemon balm (Melissa officianalis), to treat insomnia. In one study of postmenopausal women, a combination of valerian and lemon balm helped reduce symptoms of insomnia.Other actions valerian has is to reduce pain and to help lower high blood pressure.
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