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Valerian for Sleeping Problems - How Well Does It Work?

Does it help to use valerian for sleeping difficulties?

Valerian has been used as far back as the time of ancient Rome and Greece. Even Hippocrates was aware of its medicinal properties.

Historically, people have used valerian as a treatment for insomnia, migraine headaches, pain and seizures.

Let's look at some of the available scientific evidences for using valerian for insomnia...

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Research studies on the benefits of using valerian for sleeping difficulties

There are many studies done on valerian in the field of sleep disorders. Many of them showed that using valerian for sleeping problems is effective.

For example, one double-blinded clinical study using 600 mg of valerian one hour before bedtime worked in 66% of the volunteers.

Another study published in the European Journal of Medical Research showed that 600 mg of the extract of valerian was as effective as the prescription drug Serax (oxazepam). This study was published in 2003.

The other studies are discussed below slightly greater details.


Study #1

Critical evaluation of the effect of valerian extract on sleep structure and sleep quality.
Donath F, Quispe S, Diefenbach K, Maurer A, Fietze I, Roots I.
Pharmacopsychiatry. 2000 Mar;33(2):47-53.

The researchers enrolled sixteen volunteers and looked at a single and multiple doses (over 14 days) of valerian. The single dose did not have any effect but taking valerian over 14 days showed increases in brain wave pattern associated with more restful sleep.

The volunteers taking valerian also reported better sleep compared to those taking the look-alike placebo (sugar-pill).

The authors said that the lower numbers of reported side effects were remarkable.

Conclusion? They recommend using valerian for sleeping disorders that are mild.


Study #2

Effectiveness of Valerian on insomnia: a meta-analysis of randomized placebo-controlled trials.
Fernandez-San-Martin MI, Masa-Font R, Palacios-Soler L, Sancho-Gómez P, Calbo-Caldentey C, Flores-Mateo G.
Sleep Med. 2010 Jun;11(6):505-11.

The researchers only picked well-designed studies and ignored smaller or poorly designed clinical trials. They concluded that valerian showed a subjective improvement in the quality of sleep.

They said that future research study should be focused on finding other herbs that are more promising. (Not exactly what we would call a strong recommendation!)

One can always expect studies that do not show benefit but overall, there are sufficient positive clinical trials to warrant trying valerian for insomnia.


When using valerian for sleep disorders, will I experience morning drowsiness?

No study looked at this side effect directly. Experts reported that this is not a commonly reported side effect. And this is somewhat to be expected since valerian's action is not potent to start with.


Dose to use

The dose varies from 400 to 900 mg taken from about 30 minutes up to two hours before bedtime.

It may take up to several days of use before a significant benefit is seen.

See Benefits of Valerian for detailed dosing information.

Doses from 250 mg up to as high as 1,800 mg have been used in research studies.

Bottom Line?

Many individuals suffering from insomnia will find that using valerian for insomnia can prove to be helpful.

It is not habit forming and studies do show that it can help those suffering from insomnia to fall and to stay asleep.

A combination product like Melatrol that combines valerian with several other effective herbs is recommended over taking single herb. Combining multiple ingredients provide an enhanced effect.

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Related to Valerian for Sleeping Difficulties

Melatrol Sleep Aid - Proven Effective Treatment for Insomnia

The Complete List - Natural Remedies for Insomnia

Unbiased Review on the Benefits of Valerian

Return to Insomnia Natural Cures Home Page

Additional References for Valerian for Sleeping Difficulties
Created: March 12, 2011

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