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The Science and Efficacy of Valerian Root

Updated: Aug 3, 2019

Valerian Root is a common herbal remedy that many people use to help them sleep at night. As a result of it being "natural," many people think it is effective, whilst also having few side effects. So is this true? How effective is Valerian when it comes to treating Insomnia and reducing potential side effects?

What is it?

Valerian is a plant native to Asia that has been thought to have medicinal properties for centuries. It is often dried up, ground, and taken in a pill form. However, sometimes, it might be taken in a mixture with other supplements.

Does it work?

There does not seem to be any conclusive evidence that Valerian Root is effective when it comes to sleep disorders. Some studies have shown that it is effective, while others that are just as reliable have shown inconclusive results. Most of the studies that look into this are Placebo-controlled Randomized Controlled Trials, or studies with a high amount of reliability.

" Interpretation of these studies is complicated by the fact the studies had small sample sizes, used different amounts and sources of Valerian, measured different outcomes, or did not consider potential bias resulting from high participant withdrawal rates. Overall, the evidence from these trials for the sleep-promoting effects of Valerian is inconclusive. "

Side effects?

Now that we know that Valerian Root may or may not work, what are the side effects of consuming this supplement daily?

While like the effectiveness studies, studies on adverse reactions are also fairly small and inconclusive. Some people complain of things like nausea, headaches, and stomach aches. However, they also do so on Placebo. But since it might make some people drowsy, it is probably best not to consume it with pills that cause drowsiness, like Xanax, or Alcohol.

The main concern comes from any medications broken down by the liver. Since Valerian can make the liver break down things faster, it can interact with how effective certain medications are. But aside from that, there are not too many side effects known about this supplement.

It seems as if the biggest side effect is a waste of money. The best thing to do with sleep issues is to first try some natural remedies, such as sleeping at the same time every night, turning off all lights, putting your phone down, and not consuming caffeine near bedtime. If all this fails, talk to your doctor before reaching for a supplement.

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