~ Food Has Power ~
This herb's ability to produce a deep, satisfying sleep is amazing! The active ingredients found in Valerian relax the smooth muscle tissue and depress (a good thing here) the central nervous system. While Valerian works similar to prescription sleep-aids, its draw is that it's not habit-forming and it doesn't cause that morning grogginess or "hung-over" feeling; you just get good sleep and wake up feeling refreshed.
Valerian has been found useful for all kinds of sleep issues, especially those related to anxiety, nervousness, headache, stress or physical and mental exhaustion; it's not only great for insomnia, but also quite useful for calming restless sleep and constant wakening. Once you take it, even if you have to get up mid-sleep, it helps you fall back to a sound sleep very quickly. I also find that Valerian helps quiet my ever-thinking mind to allow for a nice, restorative sleep.
Valerian may also help improve your mental acuity and coordination (probably because you're sleeping better); it's rich in calcium - which helps strengthen your spine, nerves and brain; it's high in magnesium and manganese (minerals that work with calcium to make healthy bones and a calm nervous system), and selenium (strengthens your body against immune related issues); and the niacin content in Valerian may help prevent cholesterol build-up, irritability, depression, memory loss and weakness.
Valerian is recommended for short-term use, but don't despair - I have found that once you get back into a regular sleep pattern, the need for it decreases or is eliminated, and if you do happen to have trouble with sleeping again, it only take a few nights' use to get back to sleeping regularly again.
Now the caveat: while Valerian is a wonderful herb for insomnia, anxiety and stress, it's not for everyone. For some people it actually has an opposite effect and makes them restless - it's a bit of a crapshoot really to see if it works for you, but worth a try nevertheless.
I like taking Valerian along with Passionflower if I want a really, really deep sleep. Passionflower acts on the adrenal glands and gets your body into a relaxed sleep state, and then Valerian comes in, kicks the sleep thing into high gear and keeps you in dreamland for the night. They make a very nice pair for troubled sleepers!
Valerian is very, very stinky. I've heard of people using it in a tea, but you have to find other herbs to mask the smell, and of course sweeten with honey to get it down. I take it in capsule form, 1 or 2 at a time, about an hour or so before I go to bed, and by the time I'm ready to actually sleep, it comes on naturally and effortlessly. Aaaaaaahhhhh!
Come join the fun on the Holistic Herbal Facebook fan page!