Valeriana officinalis (v. officinalis):
Valeriana officinalis, or common valerian, is part of the valeriana genus of over 150 species of perennials. Valerian is a very nice looking plant, with dense clusters of small, white-pink flowers and grows up to 5 feet tall in zones 4-7, nearly world-wide.
The small flowers of the valerian plant are said to have a very strong scent, with a musty undertone that attracts cats (and possibly rats), due in part to a compound called “actinidine”, which is found in the essential oils of valeriana officinalis.
The flavor of all usable parts of valeriana officinalis is described as extremely bitter, requiring the use of a sweetener when taken by tea or infusion.
Growing Valeriana officinalis/valerian root:
V. officinalis is an easy to grow plant, which requires only moderate attention through the growing season, and may even be grown in containers. It likes to be grown in full-sun, but partial shade will not hurt this herb much, and when planted in a nutrient-rich, well-drained soil, valeriana officinalis will thrive.
To start valeriana officinalis, simply sow the seeds directly into the outdoor soil 1-2 weeks before the last spring frost, then thin plants to 1 foot space between each. Optionally, you may buy seedlings and plant them in the garden (1 foot spacing), after the last spring frost date. If space and lighting are not an issue, you may also buy seeds, and start them indoors approx. 6-8 weeks before last frost, and transplant them to the garden once the ground has warmed.
Valeriana officinalis is a running perennial, making propagation easy. By simply digging up new growth and transplanting it to other areas of the garden, you can be sure you’ll have plenty of valerian around for years to come.
Common valerian is for the most part pest and disease-free, unless you count the cats that are attracted by the smell. Some people also say that rats are attracted to valeriana officinalis, so attracting cats may be a good thing.
To harvest valerian root (for herbal use), dig the roots up in the fall, by using a weeding knife, or rake. Waiting until the soil is dry will make harvesting the valerian roots easier.
To dry the valerian roots, cut them into 2″ sections and screen-dry or dehydrate them until thoroughly dried.
Valerian root has been used for medicinal and herbal purposes for at least hundreds of years that we know of.
Over the years, valerian has been used as a; sedative, tranquilizer, calming agent, and muscle relaxer.
Valerian root has also been used to treat conditions such as; insomnia, nervous tension, hysteria, excitability, sleep and stress disorders, anxiety, and even shell-shock for soldiers during WWI.
This herb is known for it’s sleep promoting effect, as well as the regulatory effects it has on the nervous system.
When used in teas, infusions, tinctures, or added to baths, valerian officinalis is most known for it’s calming/sedative effects.
Dosages of Valerian Root:
“Dosage is difficult to determine due to the lack of standardization and variability in available forms. Typical dosages of the crude herb vary from 2–10 grams per day. Valerian root is nontoxic, but may cause side effects, such as giddiness and disorientation, when taken in large excessive doses.”
According to: Valerian (herb) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Valerian Root Cautions:
- Extended use may cause depression.
- Not recommended for children.
- Allergic reaction including skin rash, hives, difficulty breathing, and stomach pain in rare cases.
- CNS depressant – do not use with other depressants, opiates, and or alcohol.
- Not recommended for long-term use.
- Not recommended during pregnancy.
- May attract cats, and possibly even rats, due to smell.