Valerian – Valeriana officinalis

Valerian – even the Pied Piper used it! 

Official name: Valeriana officinalis

Some common names: all-heal, set-well, English valerian, Belgian valerian, common valerian, German valerian, wild valerian, heliotrope, garden heliotrope, fragrant valerian, vandal root, amantilla, capon’s tail

Some people say it smells like old socks and others say it has a sweet smell – regardless, it has been used as a medicinal herb since at least the time of ancient Greece and Rome, mostly as remedy for insomnia. It is commonly found growing wild  in grasslands, damp meadows, and along streams in Europe.

Common remedial uses: historically use as a sedative but also as a anticonvulsant, for migraine treatment, pain relief, sedative for nervous tension, excitability, stress, intestinal colic. As Valerian has an antispasmodic action it is  used for cramps, muscle pain, and muscle tension or a muscle relaxant – back problems.

The medicinal properties are mostly contained in the roots, although you can make a soothing tea from the aerial parts – this is not as strong as making a root tincture. The parts used are the dried rhizome, roots and stolons. The rhizome and roots should be collected in October and November and dried slowly in the shade.

It also has a strengthening action on the heart, and experiments indicate that it can lower blood pressure.

In India – Indian Valerian (Valeriana wallichii) it has stimulant, depressant, sedative and antispasmodic properties.

In the Himilayas – Himalayan Valerian (Valeriana jatamansii) used for treating migraine symptoms, epilepsy, insomnia and skin diseases amongst other things.

A tincture of Valerian is reputed to clear dandruff.

Valerian is best for treating depression caused by prolonged stress and nervous tension.

Caution: Continual use, or high doses of Valeriana may cause headaches, dizziness, muscular spasm and palpitations.

Oogie Boogie facts

In medieval Sweden, it was sometimes placed in the wedding clothes of the groom to ward off the “envy” of the elves

It is recorded that Valerian root attracts rats and that is how the Pied Piper of Hamelin lured the rats away.

In some European cultures it is used as a hypnotic to promote healing and sometimes exorcise evil energies.

Here is how to gather, dry and store Valerian root for medicinal use

Cut off the Valerian stalks at ground level.  The best time is between August and September, preferably in the second year of growth.

Dig up the Valerian roots (rhizomes) with a fork. Shake the roots to remove soil. Keep the harvested roots in the shade.

Wash the roots with a a lot pressure to remove all soil.  Cool water is best as heat will damage the essential oils. Chop the roots into equal small pieces.

Preserve the essential oils in the roots by drying them at room temperature in a shady spot inside for 10 days. freeze drying methods is ok also. Don’t let them get too hot.

Store the Valerian root in tightly sealed containers where they will be protected from heat, light, air and moisture.

Now your ready to prepare a tea and have a nap.



2 thoughts on “Valerian – Valeriana officinalis

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s