Is Valerian Anxiety Remedy Worth Taking?

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Valerian, a hardy plant that produces small sweetly scented pink or white flowers during the summer, is recognized worldwide for its relaxing effect on the body. But what about valerian anxiety remedy. How does it work and is it effective?

The most commonly prescribed treatment for anxiety is a class of drugs referred to as benzodiazepines. There are more than 15 different types of these drugs, with valium being one of the most well known. Valerian has been dubbed the “valium of the nineteenth century”. Yet, its use as a sedative and anti-anxiety treatment been reported for more than 2,000 years.

How Does Valerian Work?

Valerian is chemically unrelated to valium, despite acting in a similar way. However, further research is required to determine the actual mechanism by which valerian works.

So far, scientific research has focused on how valerian interacts with a key neurotransmitter (a chemical that transmits a signal) in the central nervous system, called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). This neurotransmitter inhibits motor neurons, slowing or stopping nerve impulses throughout the body.

Research on animals, such as this study, has found that valerian binds to benzodiazepine receptors on the GABAa receptor (a class of receptors that respond to the neurotransmitter GABA) in the same way as benzodiazepine drugs, thus increasing the amount of GABA in the brain. The human nervous system has two different types of benzodiazepine receptors: one that produces an anti-anxiety effect, and one that produces a sedative effect.

One of the most recent scientific studies states:

“A possible mechanism by which a valerian extract may cause sedation is by increasing the amount of GABA available in the synaptic cleft. Results from an in vitro study using synaptosomes suggest that a valerian extract may cause GABA to be released from brain nerve endings and then block GABA from being taken back into nerve cells. In addition, valerenic acid inhibits an enzyme that destroys GABA.” (Sharma et al 2010)

However, the exact chemical compounds responsible for valarian’s activities haven’t been identified and agreed upon. What is known is that valerian contains over 150 chemical constituents, many of which are active.

These include constituents of its volatile oil (including valeric acid and its derivatives), iridoids (valepotriates), alkaloids, furanofuran lignans, and amino acids such as GABA, tyrosine, arginine, and glutamine.

The problem is that it’s uncertain whether valerian’s activity resides in one compound or in a combination of several.

Is Valerian Effective in Treating Anxiety?

When using valerian to treat anxiety, herbalists most frequently use it in combination with other herbs, such as passionflower and St. John’s Wort.

The results of scientific studies have been conflicting about the effectiveness of valerian by itself as a remedy for anxiety. Some have demonstrated that it works, while others have found no benefit. The problem is that only a small amount of studies have been undertaken and most have used scientifically unreliable methodology.

This study, performed many years ago, compared the use of valerian and propranolol (a beta blocker, which blocks the symptoms of short term anxiety) in stressful situation. Unlike propranolol, valerian had no effect on physiologic arousal (the physical and psychological response to agitation, such as increased heart rate, tense muscles, shortness of breath, clammy hands) but significantly decreased subjective feelings of somatic arousal (the perception of physiologic arousal, that is how the symptoms are viewed).

This more recent study, which is the only clinical trial of high methodological quality so far, compared valerian, diazepam (valium) and a placebo for treating generalised anxiety disorder. A total of 36 patients participated in the study over four weeks. The diazepam and valerian groups showed a significant reduction in the psychic factor (mental agitation and psychological distress) of the Hamilton Anxiety Scale (HAM-A). However, overall, no significant differences were found between the three groups on total HAM-A scores. State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) trait scores (related to long term anxiety) revealed significantly greater symptom improvement in the diazepam group though.

The results of the study suggested that valerian may have a potential anti-anxiety effect on the psychic symptoms of anxiety. However, since the number of subjects per group was very small, the results must be viewed as preliminary. Further studies are needed to confirm valerian’s effectiveness.

One study looked at the effectiveness of valerian extract and St. John’s Wort for treating depression with comorbid anxiety. It found that symptoms of depression and anxiety improved faster with valerian than with St. John’s wort alone.

However, as this scientific review and this scientific review indicate, research shows much more favorable results regarding the benefits of valerian for sleep quality.

Effective Natural Anxiety Remedies

If you wish to try valerian as treatment for anxiety, we suggest that you take other recommended herbs along with it, such as passionflower and St. John’s Wort.

The supplement that we recommend for long term treatment of anxiety is Mind Sooth by Native Remedies. It’s been created with the input of a Clinical Psychologist to ensure effectiveness.

Pure Calm, a passionflower extract product, provides fast, quick acting relief from anxiety symptoms.

If your anxiety is causing you to have difficulty sleeping, Native Remedies also offer two products that promote sleep: Serenite Plus (a short term solution to help you fall asleep, with valerian) Serentite Lt (a long term solution for chronic insomnia, with St John’s Wort).

We Use and Recommend!

Xtend-Life because they are a family owned company specializing in development of innovative products to meet specific needs.

Xtend-Life combines top quality raw ingredients that are laboratory-tested, with superior manufacturing practices. Satisfaction is guaranteed, or your money back!

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