Monday, 26 December 2016

REMEDIES : VALERIAN ROOT


The flowers and root of the Valerian plant have been used medicinally all over the world since around 800 B.C. predominantly for the treatment of insomnia, depression and anxiety. The name Valerian is derived from the Latin 'valere' meaning 'to be strong / to be well' and from the female name Valeria. It is also sometimes known as all-heal, capon's tail, vandal root, St. George's herb, garden heliotrope (although not related to Heliotropium) and more. You may also come across it under the names 'nard' or 'muskroot' however these technically relate to the oil gathered from a Himalayan flowering plant called Nardostachys Jatamansi; which is a member of the Valerian family but differs from those used in European countries and referred to in Christian religious texts.

In the 1600's the root was used as a cure for the common cough, being boiled into a tea with liquorice, raisins, aniseed and other dark, pungent spices. Valerian itself has a very strong, earthy smell which many find unpleasant, although it was at one time commonly used in perfumes and is usually very attractive to cats in much the same way as catnip. It was also believed to ward off the plague. 

Valerian is also often used in witchcraft, most commonly in rituals to invoke self-acceptance, self-love and the forgiveness of ones self, clearly relating to its traditional herbal use as an anti-depressant. It is also often used in incense mixes and for the purification and consecration of ritual tools.

MODERN DAY USES
Valerian is still used widely in herbal medicine and is often found in tea blends created to induce sleepiness such as this and this. It is also available as an extract, in capsules and even as a bath salt

You can also purchase the cut and dried root on its own (available here) which can be either added to hot bathwater for soaking the body or used for making your own cold extracted Valerian tea, which is believed to be the most effective way of taking the product to aid sleep as hot or boiling water can remove some of the medicinal oils from the roots. 

Cold Extracted Valerian Tea
Just add one or two teaspoons of the cut Valerian root to a cup of cold water and allow to steep for 8 hours before straining and drinking. This is best taken around an hour or two before you wish to sleep.

MAINLY USED TO TREAT
Insomnia
Anxiety

CAN ALSO HELP WITH
Depression
Restlessness
Menstrual pain
Stress
Convulsions
Muscle and joint pain
Headaches
Stomach upset
Menopausal symptoms including hot flashes and anxiety

POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS
Headache
Excitability
Uneasiness
Sluggishness

SAFETY
As it causes drowsiness, it is best not to drive or operate dangerous machinery after taking Valerian.
Do not take Valerian if pregnant or breast feeding - not enough studies have been undertaken to confirm that it is safe so it is best to err on the side of caution.
It should not be used with other depressants or antihistamines.


The content of this article is not intended as medical advice or recommendation. Always consult a professional health care provider before trying any form of therapy or remedy or if you have any questions or concerns about a medical condition. The use of natural products can be toxic if misused, and even when suitably used, certain individuals could have adverse reactions.


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Author : Nancy Whittington-Coates
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