By Bob McCauley, CNC, MH
Valerian is an herb that has been cultivated and used for centuries for relaxation and to relieve stress. The acids found in Valerian act on the brain in such a way as to provide it with the nutrients it requires to be balanced. When the brain does not get sufficient amounts of the nutrients it requires the result is sometimes depression, bipolarism, schizophrenia and/or anxiety.
Other brain herbs are Ginkgo Biloba (ginkgolic acid), Goto Kola (asiaticocide acid) and bacopa (bacocide acid). The brain’s primary nutrients are acids, especially those that come to us with fatty acids.
The root is used of the Valerian plant and the acids are extracted or concentrated. As Valerian root ages, it produces a substance known as isovaleric acid. This compound and another acid known as valerenic acid are the active chemical ingredients that are present in the volatile oils (fats) that are found in Valerian root. These fatty acids (volatile oils) are responsible for Valerian’s ability to relax the central nervous system and remove stress. This, in turns, helps promote a good night’s sleep.
Valerian root has been used for tension headaches and muscular pain because of its ability to act as a muscle relaxant. It is also known to improve menstrual flow and cramps, and as an aid with symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Valerian can also help relieve palpitations, nerve pain, lower back pain, vision problems, other problems with the central nervous system and spinal cord, dizziness, chronic skin problems, muscle spasms. It improves circulation and reduces mucus from colds, relieves irritable bowel syndrome and lowers blood pressure.
It’s naturally calming effects have caused many to refer to Valerian Root as natural valium. Valerian extract is available in capsule form. It tastes absolutely awful (Bacopa and Ginkgo are much worse) and cannot be taken by itself in powder form unless you are willing to eat anything. The best way to consume Valerian is to take it in tablet form by combining Valerian extract with a food such as Chlorella in a 9:1 ratio (90% Chlorella/10% Valerian. This will with enhance its effects because the protein in Chlorella will help the body absorb the valerian more effectively.