Valerian Root

Valerian Root

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Valerian has been used at least since the time of Hippocrates (460-377 B.C.E.) for treating headaches, insomnia, nervousness, restlessness, menstrual problems, nervous stomach, and hysteria. Clinical trials have confirmed the use of valerian for treating insomnia, especially the insomnia that accompanies menopause. The advantage of valerian over tranquilizers such as Valium and Xanax is that it reduces sleep latency, the time required to fall asleep, without a period of bedtime drowsiness and without creating a "hangover" or grogginess the next morning. Valerian has greatest effect in treating chronic insomnia, rather than short-term sleeplessness. It also soothes the digestive system and may prevent cramping caused by irritable bowel syndrome. If you use valerian for several months, you may experience withdrawal symptoms (headache, insomnia, racing heart, and general grouchiness) if you stop using the herb abruptly. Reduce dosage of a period of about a week if you wish to discontinue using the herb. Valerian itself does not cause side effects, but it may increase the side effects of some of the older medications for insomnia, such as Ativan (lorazepam), Valium, (diazempam), or Xanax (alprazolam).