Can't sleep? We've all been there. Valarian may just be the sweet dream you've been looking for.
Dr. Weil on Valerian
If getting enough deep, restful sleep has become more of a dream than reality, consider Valerian (Valeriana officinalis). This herb is a safe and effective sleep aid, and can help relieve insomnia. It is available in tincture, extract, or capsule form - use one teaspoon of the tincture in a quarter cup of water, or take one or two capsules at bedtime.
Look for valerian products standardized to one percent valerenic acid. When used appropriately, valerian has no known side effects, but it is best used only on an occasional basis to maintain its efficacy.
More On Valerian
Valerian is a delicate flowering perennial native to Europe and parts of Asia. Its roots are used as a natural medicine.
Since the second century A.D., valerian has been used for anxiety, insomnia and restlessness. It's believed this herb may work by increasing levels of a chemical called gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain, though this has not been scientifically confirmed. GABA is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate nerve cells and has a calming effect.
One of the best designed studies found that valerian was no more effective than placebo for 14 days, but by 28 days valerian greatly improved sleep for those who were taking it. Some researchers now think you may need to take valerian for a few weeks before it begins to work. However, in another study, valerian was more effective than placebo almost immediately.
University of Maryland Medical Center "Valerian"