Hidden Secrets of Valarian Root Oil & the Valerian Root Plant

Calming & Relaxing

Valarian Root

Botanical name (Latin): Valeriana officinalis
Plant family: Valerianaceae
Aroma profile: Valarian Root smells tenacious with warm, woody, balsamic characteristics
Perfumery note: Base
Parts used: Roots
Essential oil extraction method: Steam Distilled
Native region/origin
: Asia
Growing habit: Straight, hollow stems are topped by umbrella-like heads

Benefits of Valarian Root Essential Oil

Valerian, also known as Valeriana officinalis, is a flowering plant native to Europe and Asia. The root of the plant has long been used as a herbal remedy to treat insomnia. The use of valerian root dates back to the Greek and Roman Empires and was noted by Hippocrates to treat headaches, nervousness, trembling, and heart palpitations.

Alternative healthcare providers believe that valerian root can treat a variety of health conditions, including insomnia, anxiety, headaches, digestive problems, menopause symptoms, and post-exercise muscle pain and fatigue. The evidence supporting these claims is generally mixed.

History of Valarian Root Oil

Valerian has a long history of medicinal use dating back to the era of the Greek physicians Hippocrates (circa 460-377 BCE) and Dioscorides (1st century CE) who prescribed it as a sleep aid. Galen (circa 130-200 CE), physician to Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius, prescribed it for insomnia. Among the ancient classical authors it was also recorded as a diuretic and a menstrual flow stimulator. Valerian was used to treat nervousness, trembling, headaches, and heart palpitations in the 16th century. In England during World War II, valerian was used to relieve the stress caused by air raids.

Some folklorists attribute valerian as being the agent used by the fabled Pied Piper of Hamelin in ridding the German town of Hamelin of its rats. Animal studies testing valerian on rats have shown anxiolytic (reduction of anxiety, agitation, and tension) effects.

In the United States, valerian is used extensively as a dietary supplement in the form of alcoholic tinctures, infusions (teas), and as a crude-root, powdered and dried extract in capsules and tablets. Often, valerian is combined with other herbs traditionally known to promote sleep such as hops (Humulus lupulus, Cannabaceae), passion flower (Passiflora incarnata, Passifloraceae), and lemon balm (Melissa officinalis, Lamiaceae).

The United States Pharmacopeia provides dietary supplement quality standards monographs for valerian root, powdered valerian root extract, and valerian tablets that contain powdered valerian root extract. Valerian standards were published in the national pharmacopeias of Austria, France, Great Britain, Hungary, and Russia, among others. Most of these have been superseded by the European Pharmacopoeia, which provides pharmaceutical product quality standards monographs for valerian tincture, dry hydroalcoholic extract, and dry root.

In 1985 the German Commission E approved the internal use of valerian for restlessness and sleeping disorders based on nervous conditions. The European Scientific Cooperative on Phytotherapy (ESCOP), a non-official group of scientists in Europe, notes that valerian is used for “tenseness, restlessness, and irritability, with difficulty in falling asleep.” For the purposes of drug licensing, the European Medicines Evaluation Agency (EMEA) permits indications for “relief of mild nervous tension and sleep disorders.” Further, Canada’s Natural Health Products Directorate (NHPD) also recognizes valerian’s sedative actions.

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