Any medicinal plant that has the power to calm a high-strung, stressed-out, sleep deprived human being should be revered. As a hypnotic and relaxant herb, Valerian has the power to ease anxiety, and sedate when under stress or pain. Valerian is also considered an antispasmodic. If you suffer from lower back pain, tense muscles, asthma, or menstrual pain, consider adding Valerian to your medicine chest. Botanist Nicholas Culpepper states "The root boiled with licorice root, raisins and anise seed is good for those troubled with cough."
One catch: the root smells like dirty gym socks. Many cats love the scent of Valerian, because it mimics the scent of cat pee. In the Middle Ages, Valerian Root was used as medicine, spice, and oddly enough, a perfume. And there are stories of Valerian used as bait in rat traps. About seven years ago I made the mistake of making a hot infusion of Valerian root. I haven't had a cup since. You get the point. Valerian is stinky! In my opinion, the best way to ingest Valerian is by tincture or pill.
Habitat: Native to Europe and northern Asia. In the Rocky Mountain region, Valerian grows in moist gorges, stream embankments, and crevices. Thrives in moist soil.
Parts Used: Root
Constituents: Volatile oil, alkaloids, Iridoids
Preparations: Fresh root tincture (1:2, dry root 1:5 70% alcohol)
Medicinal Actions: Sedative, hypnotic, antispasmodic, muscle relaxant
Medicinal Uses: May help reduce mental over-activity and nervous excitability. Encourages sleep, improves sleep quality, and lowers blood pressure. Helps ease muscle tension and relaxes skeletal and smooth muscle.
Contraindications: Do not mix with alcohol. Otherwise considered safe.