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Valerian Root For Anxiety

Posted on August 28 2017


A very popular category of supplementation right now is sleep aids or sleep inducing type products, mainly because we live in a society where we are constantly running from place to place and are usually in a high stress environment. This traditionally leads to many laying down in bed unable to “turn” their brain off and leads to a night of broken sleeping patterns. In my previous sleep articles, you learned why it’s so important for growth. So now, I can teach you about a supplement that can help you sleep better and in turn, grow faster!


The plant valeriana officinalis is typically simply referred to as valerian, from which where roots can be used in tea, a supplement ingredient or simply eaten for its many sedative properties. Valerian root has been shown to promote sleep, improve the quality of sleep, be a mild sedative, and reduce anxiety. Its commonly paired with GABA in sleep supplements such as Sleep/GH from Prime Nutrition because of valerian’s ability to enhance the signaling of GABA, which is one of the main sedative neurotransmitters.


One of the better studies done on valerian’s effectiveness on insomnia was a meta-analysis from San-Martin and colleagues. They searched for randomized clinical trials (RCTs) of Valerian preparations compared with a placebo on Medline, the Cochrane Library, Embase and Biosis. They found the following: sleep-quality improvement (SQ, yes/no), sleep-quality improvement quantified through visual analogical scales (SQS) and the latency time (LT) in minutes until getting to sleep. Three meta-analyses were carried out using inverse-variance weighted random effects models. Heterogeneity was determined with the Q-statistic and was explored through a sub-groups analysis. Publication bias was evaluated using the funnel plot. Eighteen RCTs were selected; eight had a score of 5 on Jadad's scale. The mean differences in LT between the Valerian and placebo treatment groups was 0.70 min (95% CI, -3.44 to 4.83); the standardized mean differences between the groups measured with SQS was -0.02 (95% CI, -0.35 to 0.31); treatment with Valerian showed a relative risk of SQ of 1.37 (95% CI, 1.05-1.78) compared with the placebo group. There was heterogeneity in the three meta-analysis, but it diminished in the sub groups analysis. No publication bias was detected. Results suggest that valerian would be effective for a subjective improvement of insomnia, although its effectiveness has not been demonstrated with quantitative or objective measurements. We recommend future investigations oriented toward improving insomnia with other more promising treatments (1)


If that wasn't convincing enough we look at its potential to help in reductions of fatigue in a phase III randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study from Barton et al who used valerian root to improve sleep in patients undergoing cancer treatment. They state: Sleep disorders are a substantial problem for cancer survivors, with prevalence estimates ranging from 23% to 61%. Although numerous prescription hypnotics are available, few are approved for long-term use or have demonstrated benefit in this circumstance. Hypnotics may have unwanted side effects and are costly, and cancer survivors often wish to avoid prescription drugs. New options with limited side effects are needed. The purpose of this trial was to evaluate the efficacy of a Valerian officinalis supplement for sleep in people with cancer who were undergoing cancer treatment. Participants were randomized to receive 450mg of valerian-or placebo orally 1 hour before bedtime for 8 weeks. The primary end point was area under the curve (AUC) of the overall Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI). Secondary outcomes included the Functional Outcomes of Sleep Questionnaire, the Brief Fatigue Inventory (BFI), and the Profile of Mood States (POMS). Toxicity was evaluated with both self-reported numeric analogue scale questions and the Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events (CTCAE), version 3.0. Questionnaires were completed at baseline and at 4 and 8 weeks. A total of 227 patients were randomized into this study between March 19, 2004, and March 9, 2007, with 119 being evaluable for the primary end point. The AUC over the 8 weeks for valerian was 51.4 (SD = 16), while that for placebo was 49.7 (SD = 15), with a P value of 0.6957. A supplemental, exploratory analysis revealed that several fatigue end points, as measured by the BFI and POMS, were significantly better for those taking valerian over placebo. Participants also reported less trouble with sleep and less drowsiness on valerian than placebo. There were no significant differences in toxicities as measured by self-report or the CTCAE except for mild alkaline phosphatase increases, which were slightly more common in the placebo group. This study failed to provide data to support the hypothesis that valerian, 450mg, at bedtime could improve sleep as measured by the PSQI. However, exploratory analyses revealed improvement in some secondary outcomes, such as fatigue. Further research with valerian exploring physiologic effects in oncology symptom management may be warranted (2)



These are only 2 of over 50 clinical studies available to us on the efficacy of valerian root. You will find some studies that cannot “conclusively” state its efficacy, but luckily, this is a root that has stood the test of time and has been used as a sleep aid and sedative for over 2,000 years (most notably used in Greece which still has some historic reports of their usage of valerian). A standard dosage is around 450mgs but this is only is the product is taken as a standalone. If it is mixed in a sleep formula you will possibly see lower dosages due to its enhancing effects from and to other ingredients.


Alex Kikel

MS, PES, CPT, Speed and Explosion Specialist Level II

Owner of www.theprepcoach.com




  1. Effectiveness of Valerian on insomnia: a meta-analysis of randomized placebo-controlled trials. Maria Isabel Fernández-San-Martín, Roser Masa-Font, Laura Palacios-Soler, Pilar Sancho-Gómez, Cristina Calbó-Caldentey, Gemma Flores-Mateo. Sleep Med. 2010 (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20347389)
  2. The Use of Valeriana Officinalis (Valerian) in Improving Sleep in Patients Who Are Undergoing Treatment for Cancer: A Phase III Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Double-Blind Study: NCCTG Trial, N01C5. Debra L. Barton, Pamela J. Atherton, Brent A. Bauer, Dennis F. Moore, Jr, Bassam I. Mattar, Beth I. LaVasseur, Kendrith M. Rowland, Jr, Robin T. Zon, Nguyet A. LeLindqwister, Gauri G. Nagargoje, Timothy I. Morgenthaler, Jeff A. Sloan, Charles L. Loprinzi. J Support Oncol. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21399726)