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Valerian Root

Generic Name: valerian (vah LEH ree un)
Brand Name: Valerian, Valerian Root

Medically reviewed on October 9, 2017

What is valerian?

Valerian is a flowering plant, the root of which is dried and used as an herbal remedy.

Valerian has been used in alternative medicine as a possibly effective aid in treating sleep problems (insomnia).

Other uses not proven with research have included treating anxiety, stress, depression, attention deficit disorder, chronic fatigue syndrome, tremors, epilepsy, menopause symptoms, and other conditions.

It is not certain whether valerian is effective in treating any medical condition. Medicinal use of this product has not been approved by the FDA. Valerian should not be used in place of medication prescribed for you by your doctor.

Valerian is often sold as an herbal supplement. There are no regulated manufacturing standards in place for many herbal compounds and some marketed supplements have been found to be contaminated with toxic metals or other drugs. Herbal/health supplements should be purchased from a reliable source to minimize the risk of contamination.

Valerian may also be used for purposes not listed in this product guide.

Important Information

Follow all directions on the product label and package. Tell each of your healthcare providers about all your medical conditions, allergies, and all medicines you use.

Before taking this medicine

You should not use valerian if you are allergic to it.

Before using valerian, talk to your healthcare provider. You may not be able to use valerian if you have certain medical conditions.

It is not known whether valerian will harm an unborn baby. Do not use this product without medical advice if you are pregnant.

It is not known whether valerian passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. Do not use this product without medical advice if you are breast-feeding a baby.

Do not give any herbal/health supplement to a child without medical advice.

How should I take valerian?

When considering the use of herbal supplements, seek the advice of your doctor. You may also consider consulting a practitioner who is trained in the use of herbal/health supplements.

If you choose to use valerian, use it as directed on the package or as directed by your doctor, pharmacist, or other healthcare provider. Do not use more of this product than is recommended on the label.

Do not crush, chew, break, or open a valerian capsule. Swallow it whole.

If you need surgery, stop taking valerian at least 2 weeks ahead of time.

Call your doctor if the condition you are treating with valerian does not improve, or if it gets worse while using this product.

Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Since valerian is used when needed, you are not likely to miss a dose.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

What should I avoid while taking valerian?

Valerian may impair your thinking or reactions. Be careful if you drive or do anything that requires you to be alert.

Avoid using valerian with other herbal/health supplements that can cause drowsiness. This includes 5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan), California poppy, catnip, chamomile, gotu kola, Jamaican dogwood, kava, melatonin, St. John's wort, skullcap (or scullcap), yerba mansa, and others.

Avoid drinking alcohol. It can increase drowsiness caused by valerian.

Valerian side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Although not all side effects are known, valerian is thought to be possibly safe when taken for a short period of time (4 to 8 weeks).

Stop using valerian and call your doctor at once if you have:

  • liver problems--nausea, upper stomach pain, itching, tired feeling, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes).

Common side effects may include:

  • headache;

  • upset stomach;

  • thinking problems;

  • dry mouth;

  • feeling excited or uneasy;

  • strange dreams; or

  • daytime drowsiness.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

See also: Side effects (in more detail)

What other drugs will affect valerian?

Taking this medicine with other drugs that make you sleepy can worsen this effect. Ask your doctor before taking valerian with a sleeping pill, narcotic pain medicine, muscle relaxer, or medicine for anxiety, depression, or seizures.

Do not take valerian without medical advice if you are using a medication to treat any of the following conditions:

This list is not complete. Other drugs may interact with valerian, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed in this product guide.

Further information

  • Consult with a licensed healthcare professional before using any herbal/health supplement. Whether you are treated by a medical doctor or a practitioner trained in the use of natural medicines/supplements, make sure all your healthcare providers know about all of your medical conditions and treatments.

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

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