Valerian officinalis is native to Europe and Asia and has become naturalized in North America. There are more than 150 types of valerian, and in India and Pakistan the type that grows was referred to as nard or spikenard in old texts such as the Bible. It has a long history of being used in medicine and was cultivated in Derbyshire (Britain) around Chesterfield, for its use in medicine.
   Hippocrates (460-377 BC), Dioscorides and Galen all used this plant to cure headaches, menstrual cramps, stomach disorders, insomnia and hysteria, and although modern medicine has not found conclusively that valerian can cure any of these ailments, it seems as though further trials will be able to state conclusively that valerian can act as a mild sedative, that is milder than Valium and Xanax and can be used effectively against insomnia, especially that which affects women going through the menopause. It is better than the drugs mentioned as it promotes a better sleep pattern (it is claimed) and doesn’t leave you feeling groggy in the morning.
  Dioscorides also said that it was a useful diuretic and also used it to relieve anxiety. Interestingly it was used in the Second World War in Britain to relieve anxiety caused by air raids. However modern medical trials have not confirmed that it is effective for anxiety or stress relief.
   Culpepper wrote: - “The root boiled with liquorice, raisins and aniseed is good for those troubled with cough. Also it is of special value against the plague, the decoction thereof being drunk and the root smelled. The green herb being bruised and applied to the head taketh away pain and pricking thereof.”
   Gerard wrote that it was “excellent for those burdened and for such as be troubled with croup and other like convulsions and also for those that are bruised with falls.” He further noted that the root was used in soups in houses of the poor in northern England and southern Scotland. The Anglo-Saxons used valerian as a salad vegetable.
red valerian
   Some animals are particularly affected by the odour of valerian which is obnoxious to some people. The Indian variety does not smell as badly as the one grown in Britain. In Britain, when cats discover the plant they are enchanted by it and will roll over it, so if you have valerian in the garden, watch out for cats! It has been suggested that the Pied Piper of Hamelin got rid of the town’s rats because he had valerian roots on his person. Rat catchers used to bait their traps with valerian roots, as, like cats they are very attracted to it.
  In the Middle Ages the roots of valerian were used as medicine, spice and even perfume, and they were laid in clothes too. This is also done in south Asia with the Indian valerian.
   Because of its distinctive smell, in Greek the plant was called “Phu” (this variety being Valerian officinalis).
valerian root
    The roots or rhizomes can be freeze-dried and then ground to a powder for use. They can also be pressed to extract the juice. In the 16th century it was used to treat nervousness, trembling (and delirium tremens later) headaches and heart palpitations. It fell out of favour in the 19th century when it was thought that valerian caused some of the symptoms it was supposed to treat. In fact it can cause pruritis (itching, which can vary in degrees from mild to severe) and also headaches, dizziness and mild gastric problems. Pregnant women and children under the age of three should avoid taking valerian or products made from it.
 The United States Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) have stated that valerian is Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS), while the German Commission E has approved its use as a mild sedative.
euro valerian
 In Ayurvedic medicine Indian Valerian is used in a variety of treatments, these include (but the list is not exhaustive) insomnia, stimulating the nervous system, reducing spasms, calming anxiety, stimulating the digestive system, reducing flatulence, for vertigo, chronic skin disorders and menstrual cramps .It is also believed to be a potent detoxifier for the blood, bowels and nerves and it can eradicate harmful substances that may have accumulated around the joints. Indian Valerian is also used to lower blood pressure, loosen phlegm and mucus, and aid the functioning of the liver and for pain relief.
  The tisane given below can be made with any valerian root, and is useful to relieve anxiety if taken 3 or 4 times a day.

1 cup of boiling water
1 tsp (2-3 gr) of powdered valerian root
1 handful of lemon balm leaves, shredded
honey to taste

Pour the boiling water over the lemon balm (which will mask the smell of valerian) and the powdered valerian root.
Leave this to steep for 10 minutes, then strain and drink.
This has Taste and is a Treat(ment)



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