Valerian is a herb found in Europe and Asia that has been used for more than 2000 years for a variety of conditions such as digestive problems, flatulence, congestive heart failure, urinary tract disorder, chest pain, anxiety, headaches, depression, irregular heartbeat, and trembling. However, there is no scientific support for Valerian’s effect on these conditions. On the other hand, there are some evidence that Valerian may help with insomnia, but more studies must be done to ascertain this.
Safety of the long term use of Valerian is unknown, but usage for 4 to 6 weeks has been shown to be safe.
Some potential problems that may be caused by usage of Valerian include eye problems, muscle problems, headache, dizziness, upset stomach, and tiredness the morning after use.
Personally, I would not use Valerian unless I have insomnia AND the condition has gotten to the point that I am seeking a doctor for prescription medication. In that case, I may want to try Valerian first, before I resort to medication.
Generally, it may be a good idea to try an herb before resorting to pharmaceuticals, as pharmaceuticals usually have more severe side effects. However, there are a lot more unknowns with herbs and other CAM (complementary alternative medicine). So, you should know that you are taking a risk whenever you use CAM. The problem with most people taking herbs or supplements is that they do not know that they are taking a risk.
It really comes down to the individual and how much risk he or she is willing to take for the potential benefits (and how critical or desperate his or her condition is). I would of course first consult my doctor.
Again, I am not saying yes or no to Valerian. It should be determined on a case by case basis. Consult your doctor. If your doctor is not familiar with CAM, switch to a doctor who is.
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