Valerian  - Valeriana officinalis


Valeriana officinalis

Valerian will help reduce anxiety and help sleeplessness. It will also lower blood pressure, help menstrual & menopausal symptoms, help ease a headache and reduce joint pain.

  • Plant Family: Caprifoliaceae
  • Plant type: Perennial
  • Other names: Phu, Setwall
  • Medicinal: Yes
  • Culinary: No
  • Ceremonial: No
  • Parts Used: Rhizone & Roots
  • Side Effects: None
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About Valerian

Valeriana officinalis is the fancy Latin name for Valerian that is considered as the best natural option for treating insomnia. It is a perennial blooming plant that belongs to the Caprifoliaceae family and is marked by sweetly fragrant leaves, flowers, stems, and roots. The plant can get matured up to a height of 4 - 6 feet. Its white and pink flowers are highly mechanized for attracting the pollinating insects towards it. The leaves of the plant are united at base and are organized in pairs.

Valerian plant is cultivated for the sake of its therapeutically active state. The active compounds of Valerian include flavanones, alkaloids, and sesquiterpenes. Valerian is enjoyed on all sides of the sphere.

Its use dates back to the era of Greeks and Romans where they used it to treat headache, nervousness, heart palpitations and trembling. Even Hippocrates has documented its benefits that account for its highly celebrated reputation. The mechanism of action of Valerian is quite simple. It is claimed to enhance the activity of GABA (Gamma-aminobutyric acid), an inhibitory neuron that tapers the controls anxiety, restlessness, nervousness, and even fear. It has a benzodiazepine-like action, i.e. it induces sedative/hypnotic properties and confers anxiolytic action.


Valerian plant can thrive easily in any given conditions. It can grow in full sun or partial shade. They can grow in any soil with good drainage but to witness a healthy growth, try using rich, heavy loam that is well supplied with moisture.

The seeds of the valerian plan can be sown straight away into the ground, or they can be planted indoors. For outdoor sowing, it is made sure that the chances of the frost have completely surpassed, preferably in March or April. On the contrary, the indoor plantation can be done several months earlier only to transfer the plant to the prepared land, desirably in May.

The seeds are set 1 foot apart in rows and the soil is treated with liquid manure intermittently along with a good deal of water. The key to securing good crops requires considerable attention to the weeding and provision of a good amount of manure.


The blooming season of the valerian plant starts at the onset of early summer. In the late afternoons, the flowers are best at endowing their sweet signature fragrance. The pollinating insects dive into action to formulate the process of pollination.

If the egg is successfully fertilized, then it results in the formation of fruit that contains one oblong seed.

The seed then serves as a medium for the continuation of the lifecycle for an endless provision of our very own garden heliotrope.

It is observed that it takes about a year or two for the valerian plant to show inflorescence. But whenever the plant blooms, it is considered to snip off those flowers to ensure better growth of rhizomes, a part for which the plant is grown.  On the other hand, the plant can produce rich leaves in a luxurious amount while it’s not flowering.

The two-year-old plant is dug in the spring or fall (September or October). It is deemed to harvest the rhizomes after the first frost of two years.

The conical root or erect rhizomes of garden heliotrope are harvested with great care. The only thing that nags the senses of the harvester is the smell of it. The smell of rhizomes is nowhere near to the flowers of the same plant. It is compared to the stench of dirty socks but its benefits overrun the unpleasant smell.

The whole plant is dug up to get hold of the rhizomes. Initially, just a few amounts are cut to let it multiply for later use. The leaves are snipped and stems are cut only to be put aside. The hair-like roots or rhizomes are gently dug up and are rinsed with water.

The holes in the land are filled with nitrogen-rich compost for the nourishment of the persisting valerian plant.

The harvested roots of the valerian are dried with the help of lint-free towel. They are then dried in the sun or dehydrator. Its leaves can either be sun-dried or dried in a dehydrator to be used in making teas that possess a little lesser sedative effect than the roots.

The leaves and roots should be stored in separate airtight jars for later use.


Valerian plant is hailed to host sleep disorders due to its purported sedative-hypnotic property. Its perks can be cherished by making any of the following preparation.

  • Tincture - Dried valerian roots are soaked in grain alcohol for 6 weeks. The jar is placed in a clean, dry and dark place.
  • Tea - Dried leaves or roots are employed to be brewed in water for around 40 minutes.
  • Decoction - Dried valerian roots are simmered in water to form a decoction.
  • Salve - Dried valerian roots are mixed with organic oil, beeswax, and yarrow flowers (optional) to make a valerian salve.
  • Syrup - Dried valerian roots are employed in many cough syrup preparations to induce relaxation.
  • Infused oil - Dried valerian roots are infused with a light carrier oil (such as jojoba oil) to form valerian essential oil.