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ftp901's avatar

Have you ever taken Valerian Root? Is it safe?

Asked by ftp901 (1300points) March 21st, 2010

I saw Dr. Oz recommend Valerian Root to lessen anxiety and stress and also as a sleep aid. I googled it and it seems relatively safe but wondered if anyone has any first-hand experience:

Have you ever taken it?
Did it work for you?
What effect did it have (mild or strong)?
Did it lessen anxiety/stress or help you sleep better?
Did it relax you?
Did it have any negative effects?
Did it relax you to the point where you couldn’t “operate machinery” like a car (ie. could you take it in the day to relieve stress at work?)

I am someone who does not take drugs (other than tylenol) and I don’t want to take anything that isn’t safe. I would never consider taking something like Xanax or Valium. Although I’m sure these drugs work well, I don’t need anything strong and I don’t want to risk anything that is not safe or could be addictive. I do, however, take B vitamins which I feel lessen my stress a bit (maybe it’s just a placebo effect) and I would like to stick to similar vitamin/herbal remedies where possible.

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18 Answers

simone54's avatar

I’m gonna read your whole long question but I have an answer.

First off, sleep aids and energy drinks never work me. I took valerian root in capsule form. It made me burp a lot and every time I burped it brought this nasty flavor up. It didn’t work for me.

davidbetterman's avatar

Yes. I took it in a mixture with skull cap and burdock for my back musles. Worked like a charm. Better than valium.

dpworkin's avatar

Yeah it’s mild and safe. It helps me sleep.

ftp901's avatar

Okay, great. Apparently it is quite popular then. Where does one buy this root? Is it at most pharmacies?

dpworkin's avatar

Every health food store

davidbetterman's avatar

Nature’s Sunshine

ftp901's avatar

If anyone can answer my specific questions, that would be appreciated. I mostly want to know is it something you can take in the daytime and go to work and function with? or does it make you too drowsy and should only be used at night?

dpworkin's avatar

I would try it first, largely because dosage is variable.

SeventhSense's avatar

Yes it’s quite safe and works well to improve sleep but it needs to build up in the system for a couple weeks to be most effective. I’ve always found it to be calming and never found any negative side effects or grogginess but it actually helped my nerves.

gasman's avatar

safe but not effective” ...is the conclusion of a 2007 review of 37 published studies of valereian appearing in Sleep Medicine Review.

It also appears that high doses have been reported to cause hangover.

I wouldn’t ingest ‘folk remedy’ substances where scientific validity is lacking.

davidbetterman's avatar

It is safe and very effective.

curiouscatt's avatar

Have you ever taken it?

Yes.

Did it work for you?

No.

What effect did it have (mild or strong)?

Minimal

Did it lessen anxiety/stress or help you sleep better?

No

Did it relax you?

Maybe? I’m not sure.

Did it have any negative effects?

Absolutely not.

Did it relax you to the point where you couldn’t “operate machinery” like a car

No way.

I should point out that this was MY experience. Absolutely nothing happened, but then again, only really heavy meds have the power to make me magically stress free and sleepy. I would almost feel inclined to say that it might even be a psychological/placebo effect but that wouldn’t be accurate information, and I’ve had a lot of sleeping problems.

Try it, see how you feel, THEN decide if you want to operate machinery.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

I have taken it. It does not work very well but it induces dreams with odd content and it does leave you with an unpleasant aftertaste. It is safe and may work for you. I’d buy a small amount to try.

Kraigmo's avatar

I’ve used valerian on and off for years. It seems very safe. I know it’s very effective.
You can buy the raw herb and make a tea. Experiment to find your dosage, but be careful, the stuff is very powerful.

If you buy it in pill form (the powdered herb packed in a gelcap), then the average dose is 3 pills to start. That might be perfect for you. If it does nothing, then take 5 pills the next night. You will definitely feel that.

When valerian makes you tired, there is a window-of-opportunity that you must take advantage of or you’ll miss out on falling asleep.

As soon as your eyelids are heavy, hurry up, brush your teeth, and go to bed. (the alarm should already be set during the day. You shouldn’t look at the time at night).

If you wait too long after the tired feeling hits… the most powerful wave of sleepiness will be missed, and you may not fall asleep timely after that.

But when used properly, it works great. Take much smaller dosages for stress or anxiety control.

keobooks's avatar

About 20 years ago, my room mate was killed in a car accident and I was hysterical. A friend of mine slipped me valerian root mixed into a chocolate milkshake to cover the taste (she knew I’d never take it on my own.) I have no idea how much she put in, but after I drank the shake, I felt oddly calm. I remember telling her “I know I should feel upset right now, but I don’t feel so bad about anything right now.” and then she told me what was up. I can’t remember how long it took to kick in, but she never told me what she did until I mentioned feeling oddly calm.

It didn’t make me feel sleepy, but the effect was similar to valium and was fairly strong.

SeventhSense's avatar

As far as its efficacy for chronic insomniacs I can’t state because I’ve never been one and no doubt the studies have been conducted with chronic insomniacs. But if you are sometimes restless and want a mild calming natural herb it’s brilliant. As far as it being like Valium I would not concur. It is nowhere near as strong as any prescription medication. But at the same time you are not going to get physically addicted to the stuff.

ftp901's avatar

Hmmm…interesting to hear such different opinions but it seems the common thread is that it is, in fact, safe so I think I will try it. I appreciate everybody’s input.

I’m not interested in using it for sleeping – I have no trouble sleeping whatsoever – I could fall asleep any time of the day or night. I want to use it more for relieving stress and going through my work day in a relaxed state. I’m able to achieve this somewhat through deep breathing throughout the day and taking B vitamins but it would be nice to have something extra for those days when I have to do something particularly stressful like a presentation.

SeventhSense's avatar

@ftp901
I would suggest St. John’s wort for that.

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