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Valerian Plant Benefits & Growing Tips | Herbal Guide

Did you know that the valerian plant, scientifically known as Valeriana officinalis, has been used for centuries as an herbal remedy to promote relaxation and improve sleep? Valerian is a powerful herb that offers numerous health benefits.

Valerian growing in a garden with a sign that says "Valerian."

Use this guide to explore the incredible benefits of the valerian plant and learn valuable tips on growing it in your own garden. Whether you’re struggling with sleep problems or simply looking for a natural way to relax, valerian could be the solution you’ve been searching for.

Why I Love Valerian

I love using herb medicine at home (If you’re new to herbal remedies, I recommend checking out this post on how to start using medicinal herbs). I’ve been growing medicinal herbs in my cottage garden for years, creating many herbal remedies for my homemade first-aid kit.

Valerian is one such plant that I’ll grow forever! It’s fantastic for helping with sleep, relieving stress or anxiety and even as a great headache remedy (more on these below).

If you’re looking to grow a cottage garden filled with herbs, valerian should definitely be on your list. Then, learn about other medicinal herbs and their uses here to fill your garden.

It’s important to note that I am not a certified medical practitioner. This post is not intended to diagnose or treat but is for informational purposes only. Please contact your healthcare professional before introducing new herbal and natural remedies into your wellness routine.

Dried herbs in jars on a shelf.

Health Benefits of Valerian Plant

Valerian, also known as Valeriana officinalis, has been used for centuries for its various health benefits. This natural herb offers a range of therapeutic properties that can help improve well-being and address specific health concerns.

  • Sleep Problems – One of the most well-known benefits of the valerian plant is its ability to promote better sleep. Research has shown that valerian may help improve sleep quality and reduce the time it takes to fall asleep. Its sedative effects can help individuals achieve a more restful sleep, waking up feeling refreshed and revitalized in the morning. (Source)
  • Stress and Anxiety Relief – Valerian is also known for its calming properties, which can help alleviate stress and anxiety. The plant’s compounds have been found to have anxiolytic effects, promoting a sense of relaxation and easing nervous tension. (Source)
  • Headache Relief – Valerian is often used as an herbal remedy for headaches and migraines. The herb’s sedative effects can help relax tense muscles and relieve the pain associated with headaches. (Source)

Valerian Precautions

When using valerian as an herbal remedy, it is important to take certain precautions to ensure its safe and effective use. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

When it comes to valerian, it is crucial to follow the recommended doses to avoid any potential adverse effects. The appropriate dose can vary depending on factors such as the individual’s age and weight, overall health, and the specific condition being treated.

It is always advisable to consult with a healthcare professional or herbalist for personalized guidance in determining the right dosage. Remember, moderation is key.

Potential Adverse Effects

Although valerian is generally well-tolerated, it may cause some adverse effects in certain individuals. These effects are usually mild and temporary. Common adverse effects of valerian may include dizziness, headaches, upset stomach, and daytime drowsiness. If you experience any severe or persistent side effects, it is important to seek medical attention immediately.

Additionally, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, it is recommended to avoid the use of valerian due to limited research on its safety in these situations. It is always best to err on the side of caution and consult with a healthcare professional before incorporating valerian into your routine.

Hops growing on the side of a large house.

Is the Valerian Plant Invasive

Valerian root’s invasive potential mainly depends on the specific region and conditions in which it is grown. In some cases, valerian root may self-seed and spread more aggressively, particularly in damp, fertile soil. Therefore, it is important to consider the local climate and environmental factors before introducing valerian root into your garden.

It is worth noting that some states or local jurisdictions may have regulations or restrictions on the cultivation of certain plants, including valerian root. Before growing valerian root in your garden, it is always advisable to check with your local agricultural extension office or relevant authorities to ensure compliance with any applicable rules or guidelines.

In summary, while valerian root can be a prolific grower and spreader, it is not typically classified as an invasive species in the United States.

Valerian growing in a garden with a sign that says "Valerian."

Growing Valerian

Planting valerian in your garden is a rewarding and relatively simple process. With its beautiful flowers and soothing fragrance, the valerian plant makes a lovely addition to any herb garden. Here are some step-by-step instructions on how to successfully plant valerian:

Planting

  • Sun – Valerian plants prefer full sun to partial shade, so select a spot in your garden that receives at least six to eight hours of direct sunlight each day. However, in hotter climates, valerian can benefit from some afternoon shade to protect it from excessive heat.
  • Soil – Before planting, loosen the soil using a broadfork or tiller. Remove any weeds or rocks and amend the soil with homemade compost or organic matter to improve its fertility. Maintaining a slightly acidic to neutral soil pH of 5.5-7.0 will promote optimal growth.
  • Seeds – Valerian seeds can be directly sown in the garden after the danger of frost has passed. Learn how to read seed packets correctly, and plant the seeds about 1/4 inch deep and space them approximately 24-36 inches apart.
  • Seedlings – You can start your seeds indoors and learn when to pot up seedlings before planting them in the ground. When you are ready to transplant your seedlings, dig a hole that is large enough to accommodate the roots and gently place the seedling into the hole, making sure it is at the same depth it was in the container. Then, backfill with soil.
  • Spacing – Make sure there is enough space for the plant to grow and spread its roots. Plant valerian seedlings or transplants about 2-3 feet apart to give them room to mature and expand their root systems.
  • Companion Planting Valerian can benefit from companion plants such as garden heliotrope and the lemon balm plant. These plants attract beneficial insects and help repel pests, creating a healthier growing environment for your valerian plants.

Growing

  • Watering – Keep the soil evenly watered but not waterlogged during the germination and establishment phases. Once the valerian plants are established, they are relatively drought-tolerant and require less frequent watering. It’s best to water at the base of the plant to minimize leaf wetness and reduce the risk of fungal diseases. Homesteading Hack: You can check out our garden watering strategies for more tips on properly watering a garden.
  • Mulching – To help retain soil moisture, mulching around the valerian plants is recommended. A layer of organic mulch, such as straw or wood chips, will also help suppress weed growth.
  • Fertilizing  Once every four to six weeks, add some compost tea from homemade compost. This will help to keep the soil from getting depleted.

Harvesting

Once your valerian plants have reached maturity, it’s time to harvest them to enjoy their medicinal and calming properties. While the leaves of the valerian plant are edible, it’s the root that is used for medicinal purposes.

Timing is crucial when it comes to harvesting valerian as you want to ensure the highest concentration of beneficial compounds. Stored properly, valerian can retain its medicinal properties for up to a year. Here are some tips for harvesting and storing valerian:

  • Timing – The best time to harvest valerian is when the flowers have fully bloomed and the buds have just started to open. This is typically in the late summer or early fall. Harvesting valerian at this stage ensures that the roots contain the maximum amount of the plant’s beneficial compounds.
  • Harvesting the Root – To harvest valerian, follow these steps:
    • Start by digging around the base of the valerian plant, loosening the soil to help with extraction.
    • Gently pull the plant out of the ground, being careful not to damage the roots.
    • Shake off any excess soil and remove any dead leaves or stems.
    • Trim the foliage down to about an inch above the crown of the plant.
    • Wash the roots thoroughly to remove any dirt.
    • Allow the roots to air dry in a cool, well-ventilated area for a few days.
  • Storing  After harvesting, it’s important to store valerian properly to maintain its potency for future use. Here’s how:
    • Cut the dried roots into smaller pieces for easier storage.
    • Place the cut roots in a clean, airtight container, such as a glass jar.
    • Label the container with the date of harvest to keep track of its freshness.
    • Store the container in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight and moisture.
A woman holding an amber bottle with jars of dried herbs in front of her.

Using Herbal Medicine

The valerian plant offers a natural solution to various health issues. By following these proper planting, growing, and harvesting techniques, you can cultivate your own valerian supply to stock your natural medicine cabinet.

If you are just getting started with herbal medicine and want to learn more about using herbs for natural healing, the Herbal Medicine Cabinet: Colds and Flu class is designed just for you. 

This popular masterclass teaches an easy-to-follow system to stock your medicine cabinet confidently, knowing how to match herbal solutions with various illnesses and where to find the best quality herbal medicines.

This course has recently been updated to include flu and flu-like viruses, and includes bonuses such as printable labels and healing protocols, growing your own medicine guide, and more! Sign up today and get started with instant access!

FAQ

What are the benefits of the valerian plant?

The valerian plant has been used for centuries as an herbal remedy for sleep problems. It is known for its sedative effects and can help promote relaxation and fall asleep more easily. Additionally, valerian has been studied for its potential benefits in managing anxiety and reducing stress.

Are there any adverse effects of using valerian?

While valerian is generally considered safe for short-term use, some individuals may experience side effects such as headaches, dizziness, or upset stomach. It is important to follow the recommended doses of valerian and consult with a healthcare professional if you have any underlying health conditions or are taking medications.

Are there any long-term effects of using valerian?

The long-term effects of using valerian have not been extensively studied. It is recommended to consult with a healthcare professional before using valerian for an extended period, especially if you have any underlying health conditions or are taking other medications. Additionally, it is important to consider clinical studies and gather adequate information before relying solely on valerian as a long-term herbal remedy.

Is valerian root legal in the US?

Yes, valerian root is legal in the United States. It is considered a dietary supplement and can be purchased over-the-counter in various forms, such as capsules, extracts, or dried root.

Is valerian root invasive?

Valerian root is not considered an invasive species in the United States. While native to Europe, it does not pose a significant threat to native plants or ecosystems in North America.

A woman walking through a medicinal herb garden.
A man and wife smiling.

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