How to Use Valerian to Relax and Reduce Stress


Basic information about valerian

Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) is a perennial medicinal plant used in folk and traditional medicine for centuries. This plant is widely distributed in Europe, Asia and North America. Valerian is known for its sedative and sedative properties, has a weak antispasmodic effect. The main medicinal component of valerian is the root, from which extracts, tinctures and teas are obtained.

Principle of operation

The principle of action of valerian is based on the complex interaction of the active components of the plant with various body systems, primarily with the central nervous system. Consider the main mechanisms of action of valerian:

  • Effect on GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) – one of the key mediators in the central nervous system, responsible for inhibitory processes and regulation of excitability. The main mechanism of action of valerian is to potentiate GABAergic mediation, which leads to a decrease in nervous excitability and provides a calming effect.
  • Interaction with A1-adenosine receptors for serotonin reuptake – the active components of valerian stimulate adenosine receptors, enhancing their inhibitory effect on neurons and promoting relaxation.
  • Interaction with benzodiazepine receptors – a component of valerian, hydroxypinorecinol, is able to bind to benzodiazepine receptors, which has a beneficial effect on sleep, improving its quality.
  • Antispasmodic effect – due to the action on smooth muscle cells, valerian reduces their contractile activity, which relieves spastic pain.

The relaxing property of valerian root

As a result of the complex action on various body systems, valerian root has a pronounced relaxing property, which makes it a useful tool for relieving stress, anxiety, nervousness and muscle tension. However, it is worth remembering that valerian is not a potent drug and has a mild and gradual effect, therefore, for best results, regular and long-term use of valerian is recommended in compliance with the recommended dosages and duration of the course of administration.

In addition, valerian can be used in combination with other herbal preparations, such as coltsfoot, motherwort or lemon balm, which can enhance its relaxing effect and provide a more pronounced reduction in anxiety and tension.

Overall, the medicinal properties of valerian root make it a valuable tool for improving quality of life, reducing stress, and maintaining a healthy nervous system. However, for best results, it is important to use valerian as part of a holistic approach to health promotion, including a healthy lifestyle, a balanced diet, and regular physical activity.

Effect of valerian on sleep

The effect of valerian on sleep is one of the most studied and beneficial properties of this medicinal plant. Improving the quality of sleep and making it easier to fall asleep with regular intake of valerian is explained by the following mechanisms of action:

  • effects on the GABA system: valerian enhances the action of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) in the brain, which leads to a decrease in nervous excitability and facilitates the process of falling asleep. Increasing GABA levels also helps to improve sleep quality, as it helps the body move into the deep phases of sleep, which are the most restorative.
  • Effects on the serotonin system: Valerian contributes to an increase in the level of serotonin in the brain, which has a beneficial effect on the regulation of sleep and mood. Serotonin in the body is converted into melatonin, which is the main regulator of the sleep-wake cycle and is responsible for synchronizing biological rhythms.
  • Relaxing effect: Valerian helps to relax muscles and relieve tension, which contributes to a quick and easy fall asleep. Due to its calming effects, valerian also reduces anxiety and stress before bedtime, which is one of the common causes of insomnia.
  • Synergy with other botanicals: Valerian is often used in complex preparations in combination with other medicinal plants such as motherwort, lemon balm or griffonia, which in turn can also improve sleep and reduce anxiety.

With regular intake of valerian in the recommended dosages and duration of the course, you can expect an improvement in the quality of sleep, a decrease in the time to fall asleep and an increase in the overall comfort of a night’s rest. However, it is worth remembering that valerian has a mild and gradual effect, and for best results, its intake should be combined with compliance with the rules of sleep hygiene and a healthy lifestyle.

Sleep hygiene rules

The rules of sleep hygiene include the following recommendations:

  • Regularity: Aim to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, including weekends. This will help to form a stable rhythm of sleep and wakefulness and make it easier to fall asleep.
  • Cozy bedroom: create a comfortable sleeping environment: keep the temperature cool, darken the room and eliminate noise sources.
  • Lack of strong stimuli before bedtime: Avoid strong tea, coffee, alcohol and tobacco a few hours before bedtime. It is also worth limiting the use of smartphones, computers and TV before bedtime, as the blue light of these devices can suppress the production of melatonin and make it difficult to fall asleep.
  • Relaxation before bed: Incorporate relaxing techniques such as meditation, yoga, walks, warm baths, or reading a book into your evening routine. This will help relieve tension and improve sleep quality.
  • Physical activity: Regular physical activity helps improve sleep, but try to avoid strenuous workouts just before bedtime, as they can cause stimulation and make it difficult to fall asleep.

By following these recommendations and using valerian as an additional remedy, you can significantly improve the quality of sleep, fall asleep more easily and feel rested and full of energy throughout the day. It is important to note that if you have serious sleep problems or chronic insomnia, you should consult a doctor for diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Other beneficial properties of valerian

In addition to sedative and sedative effects, valerian has other beneficial properties:

  • Antioxidant action: The flavonoids contained in valerian help eliminate free radicals and protect cells from oxidative stress.
  • Anti-inflammatory effect: Valerian reduces the production of prostaglandins and cytokines, which cause inflammation in the body.
  • Antimicrobial action: Valerian has antimicrobial activity against various bacteria.

Valerian Side Effects

Valerian is a fairly safe plant, and when used correctly, side effects are rare. However, like any drug, valerian can cause adverse reactions in some people. Here are some of the possible side effects of valerian:

  • Allergic reactions: Some people may experience allergic reactions to valerian, which can manifest as rashes, itching, hives, swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat.
  • Gastrointestinal disorders: And in some cases, taking valerian can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation.
  • Headache: In some people, taking valerian can cause headaches or migraines.
  • drowsiness and CNS depression: Valerian has a calming effect and may cause drowsiness, fatigue, or a delayed reaction, especially when the recommended doses are exceeded. In recommended doses, the drug does not affect the ability to drive a car and mechanisms, however, due to the sedative effect of the drug, caution is recommended when driving vehicles or working with other mechanisms until individual sensitivity is clarified. Concomitant use of valerian with other sedatives or alcohol should also be avoided, as this may increase CNS depression.

Contraindications and interactions with other drugs

Valerian is contraindicated in pregnancy, lactation and individual intolerance. It is important to consider the interaction of valerian with other medications, especially with sedatives and hypnotics, as this can cause an increase in their action. Before you start taking valerian, you should consult your doctor and report all medications you are taking.

How to get the most out of using valerian

To get the most out of the use of valerian and avoid possible side effects, the following recommendations should be followed:

  1. Choose quality products: There are many valerian-based products on the market, but their quality can vary significantly. To achieve the best effect, choose products from well-known manufacturers with a good reputation, such as the pharmaceutical factory “Viola”, the drug Vioheals Valeriana forte.
  2. Follow the recommended doses and course of treatment: do not exceed the indicated doses and observe the duration of the course of treatment according to the doctor’s recommendations or instructions.
  3. Combined intake with other medicinal plants: To enhance the soothing and hypnotic effects of valerian, you can combine it with other herbs such as lemon balm, motherwort or passionflower. However, before starting the combined intake, you should consult your doctor.
  4. Consider individual characteristics: the reaction to valerian can be individual. You may need some time to determine the optimal dose and form of application for yourself. If you notice that taking valerian does not bring the expected effect or causes side effects, consult your doctor to adjust the dosage or choose another remedy.
  5. Combine valerian intake with a healthy lifestyle: To achieve the maximum effect from the use of valerian, it is recommended to combine its intake with a healthy lifestyle. Gradually introduce healthy habits such as regular physical activity, a balanced diet, adequate sleep, and relaxation techniques (meditation, yoga, breathing exercises, etc.).
  6. Consult your doctor before you start taking it: Although valerian is a safe and widely available remedy, it is recommended that you consult your doctor before taking it, especially if you have a chronic medical condition, are taking other medications, or are allergic to plants.
  7. Watch the body’s reaction: in the process of taking valerian, it is important to listen to your body and note its reactions to the drug. If you notice an improvement in your well-being, continue to take it, following the recommendations. In case of undesirable effects, consult a doctor to adjust the dosage or choose another remedy.

By following the above recommendations, you will be able to maximize the benefits of using valerian and reduce the risk of possible side effects. It is important to remember that the soothing and hypnotic properties of valerian can be an excellent addition to an integrated approach to maintaining psycho-emotional health and improving sleep quality. However, do not forget about the importance of an overall healthy lifestyle and timely access to specialists in case of mental health problems.


Valerian is a proven and effective remedy for improving sleep, relieving stress and relaxation. It is important to follow the recommended dosage and duration of the course of administration in order to avoid possible side effects.

Valerian, due to its beneficial properties, deservedly occupies one of the leading places among medicinal plants used to maintain the nervous system and improve the quality of sleep. Incorporating valerian into your daily routine can help reduce stress, improve sleep, and promote overall health. However, remember that self-medication can be dangerous, and you should always consult your doctor first.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best form of valerian for relaxing and reducing stress?

You can choose the most convenient form for yourself: tablets, capsules, tincture or valerian-based tea. All of them are effective for relaxation and stress reduction.

How long should I take valerian to achieve a relaxing effect?

Valerian usually begins to act 30-60 minutes after ingestion. However, to stabilize the effect, a course of valerian for 2 to 4 weeks is recommended.

Can I take valerian during the day or just before bedtime?

Valerian can be taken throughout the day to reduce stress and anxiety.

Does valerian affect performance and attentiveness?

Valerian can cause drowsiness and some decrease in attentiveness. It is recommended to take valerian in the evening or during rest, when there is no need to perform complex tasks or drive a car.

Can I take valerian for alcohol poisoning or a hangover?

Valerian can help relieve nervous tension and improve sleep in case of alcohol poisoning or a hangover. However, valerian is not a treatment for alcoholism and should not be used as a substitute for medical care.

What is the recommended dosage of valerian for relaxation and stress reduction?

The recommended dosage of valerian may vary depending on the form of the drug. For example, Viohels Valeriana forte is recommended to take 1 capsule 1-2 times a day. Follow the instructions for use and consult your doctor.

Is there a difference in valerian intake for men and women?

Valerian affects men and women about the same, as it has a calming and relaxing effect that is beneficial for both sexes. However, there are some peculiarities.

  • Valerian for women. Valerian may be beneficial for women during premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and menopause. It helps reduce anxiety, irritability, and unpleasant physical symptoms associated with these periods.
  • Valerian for men. Some research suggests that valerian may help men reduce stress levels and improve sleep, which in turn may have a positive impact on overall health and reproductive function.


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  3. European Union herbal monograph on Valeriana officinalis L., radix. EMA/HMPC/150848/2015
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  5. Ziegler G., Ploch M., Miettinen-Baumann A., Collet W. (2002) Efficacy and tolerability of valerian extract LI 156 compared with oxazepam in the treatment of non-organic insomnia a randomized, double-blind, comparative clinical study. Eur. J. Med. Res., 7(11): 480–486.

Author: Natalia Kandybey, Candidate of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Quality Director of the Pharmaceutical Factory “Viola”