Dreams of Sugar Plums?

Beth Irvine Health Guide
  • If all of the holiday preparations have left you feeling that sleep is more of a dream than reality, here is a natural remedy that may help.


    Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) is a safe and effective herbal sleep aid and can help alleviate insomnia. The name is believed to come from the Latin word "valere" meaning to be healthy or strong. The root of the plant is believed to contain its active constituents.

    2,000-year track record
    According to the NCCAM (National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine) Valerian has been used as a medicinal herb since at least the time of ancient Greece and Rome. Use of valerian as a sedative and anti-anxiety treatment has been reported for more than 2,000 years. Hippocrates described its therapeutic uses, and in the second century, Galen prescribed valerian for insomnia.

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    How do you take it?
    It comes 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 1 percent valerenic acid.

    Science says

    • While no significant side effects are known, studies suggest that valerian is generally safe to use for short periods of time (for example, 4 to 6 weeks).
    • Research suggests that valerian may be helpful for insomnia, but there is not enough evidence from well-designed studies to confirm this.
    • ┬áTell your health care providers about any complementary and alternative practices you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This way you get the best of both worlds.

    Sweet Dreams!

Published On: December 11, 2008