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Valerian Root

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Valerian Root

Since the days of the Ancient Greeks, valerian root has been used as a part of herbal medicine. Today it is recommended by natural practitioners for a wide variety of concerns. The primary use of valerian root is to help ease symptoms of temporary insomnia or an inability to sleep. Western medical science is only now beginning to study how valerian root might help promote better sleep in individuals, though some believe it is because the herb has the ability to increase the levels of certain chemicals in the brain. The Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database lists valerian root as "possibly effective" for helping people deal with periods of sleeplessness. However, more research is needed to prove that it is beneficial.

Choosing the Right Valerian Root Supplement

Walgreens has a wide variety of valerian root dietary supplements available to suit your needs. Options include everything from traditional capsules and tablets to liquid formulations and teas. Research indicates that valerian root is likely safe when taken for short periods of time. This means generally no longer than four weeks. However, some people may be unable to use the herb without risks. Because it is unknown what effects valerian root may have upon a developing baby or a growing infant, pregnant and nursing mothers should not take the herb. In addition, the herb may cause interactions with alcohol, anesthesia (medicine that makes you sleep or numbs the body) used for surgery, certain drugs that are processed by the liver and any medicine for sleep or anxiety. Even in people who are not taking other medications, side effects are possible. The most common side effects of valerian root are headaches, nervousness, drowsiness and stomach problems. Don't drive or operate machinery until you are sure that valerian root does not make you feel sleepy. While not proven to be habit forming, valerian root can lead to sleep difficulties if you stop using it suddenly instead of tapering off your use. Before taking valerian root, be sure to consult your doctor to ensure that it is right for you and to find out which dosage is most likely to suit your health needs. In addition, seek your healthcare provider's approval before continuing to take this herb for more than 4 weeks since the safety of its long-term use has not been evaluated.

This summary is intended for general informational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of purity, strength, or safety of the products. As a result, effects may vary. You should read product labels. In addition, if you are taking medications, herbs, or other supplements you should consult with a qualified healthcare provider before taking a supplement as supplements may interact with other medications, herbs, and nutritional products. If you have a medical condition, including if you are pregnant or nursing, you should speak to your physician before taking a supplement. Consult a healthcare provider if you experience side effects.