Saturday, January 3, 2009

VALERIAN - Valeriana Officinalis

Valerian (Valeriana officinalis, Valerianaceae) is a hardy perennial flowering plant, with heads of sweetly scented pink or white flowers. The flowers are in bloom in the northern hemisphere from June to September. Valerian was used as a perfume in the sixteenth century.

Native to Europe and parts of Asia, Valerian has been introduced into North America. It is consumed as food by the larvae of some Lepidoptera (butterfly and moth) species including Grey Pug.

Other names used for this plant include garden valerian (to distinguish it from other Valeriana species), garden heliotrope (although not related to Heliotropium) and all-heal. The garden flower red valerian is also sometimes referred to as "valerian" but is a different species, from the same family but not particularly closely related.

Valerian, in pharmacology and phytotherapic medicine, is the name of a herb or dietary supplement prepared from roots of the plant, which, after maceration, trituration, dehydration processes, are conveniently packaged, usually into capsules, that may be utilized for certain effects including sedation and anxiolytic effect.

The amino acid Valine is named after this plant.

Medicinal use

Valerian is used for insomnia and other disorders and can be a useful alternative to benzodiazepine drugs.

In the United States Valerian is sold as a nutritional supplement. Therapeutic use has increased as dietary supplements have gained in popularity, especially after the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act was passed in 1994. This law allowed the distribution of many agents as over-the-counter supplements, and therefore allowed them to bypass the regulatory requirements of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Valerian is used against sleeping disorders, restlessness and anxiety, and as a muscle relaxant. Valerian often seems only to work when taken over longer periods (several weeks), though many users find that it takes effect immediately. Some studies have demonstrated that valerian extracts interact with the GABA and benzodiazepine receptors. Valerian is also used traditionally to treat gastrointestinal pain and irritable bowel syndrome. However, long term safety studies are missing. As valepotriates may be potential mutagens, valerian should only be used after consultation with a physician.

Valerian is sometimes recommended as a first-line treatment when benefit-risk analysis dictates. Valerian is often indicated as transition medication when discontinuing benzodiazepines.

Valerian has uses in herbal medicine as a sedative. The main current use of valerian is as a remedy for insomnia, with a recent meta-analysis providing some evidence of effectiveness. It has been recommended for epilepsy but that is not supported by research (although an analogue of one of its constituents, valproic acid, is used as an anticonvulsant and mood-stabilizing drug). Valerian root generally does not lose effectiveness over time.

SIDE EFFECTS: Headache, blurred vision, nausea, change in heartbeat, and morning grogginess may occur. If any of these effects persist or worsen, contact your doctor promptly. Very unlikely but report: dark urine, stomach pain. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.

1 comments:

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