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What is Valerian?
Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) is a perennial plant with pink or white flowers that is native to Europe and Asia. The plant has also been introduced into North America. There are over 250 types of valerian. European valerian is the species most often used in the United States and Europe.
This plant has been used traditionally at least since the time of ancient Greece and Rome. Used primarily as a sleep aid, valerian was also believed to help address nervousness and stress.
Today, it’s primarily the roots of valerian plant that are used in herbal remedies, teas, and nutritional supplements. Although the fresh root has little odor, the dried root has a distinctive odor that some find unpleasant.
Several studies have demonstrated valerian’s benefits for sleep. However, there is no consensus on how it works. Some experts believe that this plant increases the amount of gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. GABA is a chemical in the brain that produces a calming effect to help reduce stress.
One study, considered to be one of the largest studies ever conducted with valerian, involved 128 volunteers—72 men and 56 women. Researchers found the plant improved sleep quality compared to placebo, especially amongst those who identified themselves as habitually poor or irregular sleepers. It was also shown that the plant helped individuals fall asleep more quickly compared to placebo, especially older subjects.
Another study followed 27 participants with ages ranging from 25 to 68 years old who were experiencing sleep difficulties and fatigue. All had been sleeping just 4 to 6 hours a night. After taking one dose of European valerian, 89% reported improved sleep, and 44% said they got “perfect sleep” versus placebo. No side effects were observed and none of the participants reported next-morning grogginess. What’s more, none suffered from nightmares, which is sometimes experienced with traditional sedatives.
And finally, a small double-blind, 3-week crossover-like study with 8 volunteers who had issues getting to sleep found that valerian helped get them to sleep almost twice as fast compared to placebo. The participants—3 women and 5 men—ranged in age 33 to 59 years old.
Our Sleep Wave includes 400 mg of deodorized valerian root extract, along with a blend of other herbs, vitamins and nutrients, to promote deep, restorative sleep.