valerian flowers
© 2018 Steven Foster

A valerian monograph for the home

Latin Name: Valeriana officinalis

Common Names: valerian, all-heal, garden heliotrope

This valerian monograph provides basic information about valerian—common names, usefulness and safety, and resources for more information.


Valerian Basics

  • Valerian is a plant native to Europe and Asia; it also grows in North America.
  • Valerian has been used medicinally since the times of early Greece and Rome; Hippocrates wrote about its uses. Historically, valerian was used to treat nervousness, trembling, headaches, and heart palpitations.
  • Today, valerian is used as a dietary supplement for insomnia, anxiety, and other conditions such as depression and menopause symptoms.
  • The roots and rhizomes (underground stems) of valerian are used to make capsules, tablets, and liquid extracts, as well as teas.

Valerian in Health Research

  • Knowledge about valerian is limited because there have been only a small number of high-quality studies in people.

Valerian Research Summary

  • The evidence on whether valerian is helpful for sleep problems is inconsistent.
  • There’s not enough evidence to allow any conclusions about whether valerian can relieve anxiety, depression, or menopausal symptoms.

Valerian Safety

  • Studies suggest that valerian is generally safe for use by most healthy adults for short periods of time.
  • No information is available about the long-term safety of valerian or its safety in children younger than age 3, pregnant women, or nursing mothers.
  • Few side effects have been reported in studies of valerian. Those that have occurred include headache, dizziness, itching, and digestive disturbances.
  • Because it is possible (though not proven) that valerian might have a sleep-inducing effect, it should not be taken along with alcohol or sedatives.

Valerian References