You may have heard of Valerian as a natural sleep aid. The root of the herb is the most commonly used, and for a variety of health reasons, which we have covered in our previous blog. Most commonly, valerian has been used to treat sleep disorders.
However, as a dietary supplement, the root may interact with certain medications or existing disorders. In this blog, we look into the possible side effects of valerian root and how to reduce them. We also explain how to take valerian safely and dosage rules for the best outcomes.
So if you are seeking to alleviate stress or gain a good night’s sleep, keep reading to find out all that you need to understand about this ancient herbal remedy.
What is Valerian?
This plant-derived supplement has been used in Europe and Asia to treat anxiety and insomnia for centuries. This herb is known for its potent calming effects and has been used to improve sleep, reduce anxiety, and more. It’s also an excellent source of antioxidants that help support your overall health and well-being.
With so many uses, you can say that Valerian root is a true hero among herbs. However, like with any supplement, there are side effects that you should be aware of. These may include headaches, dizziness, dry mouth, and fatigue.
It is also imperative to take it in moderation as it can become habit-forming. Therefore, if you plan to use it for an extended period of time, consult with a healthcare professional first to make sure it is right for you.
Below, we will delve into dos and don’ts in the use of Valerian.
Side Effects of Valerian Root
Yes, we know! Valerian improves sleep quality. While there is no doubt that it offers numerous benefits to your health and overall well-being, it is important to note that as a sleep medicine, it can lead to vivid dreams (not a problem if you are that way inclined, but this still warrants a mention)
One study showed that around 16% of the participants experienced more vivid dreams than usual. Respondents used 600mg of the root once a day for 6 weeks. Other side effects include may include drowsiness, dizziness, lightheadedness, and a feeling of euphoria. Make sure you don’t take more than the recommended dose if you are prone to these symptoms!
One of the lesser reported potential side effects is heart palpitations. These palpitations usually occur at first when the valerian kicks in, but they should eventually fade away as the effects wear off. But, if you experience any unusual sharp or recurring chest pain or shortness of breath while taking valerian, stop the dose and contact your doctor immediately.
Supplementing with Valerian may cause mild to moderate dry mouth. Although this side effect has not been extensively studied, it has been reported by some users. Although the reported cases are fewer, they can still affect some people. That’s why we’ve included it in the list of potential side effects so you know what to look out for.
It may take time before you notice any change in your symptoms, but if they persist long after taking your daily dose then ask your doctor about alternatives or other supplements that could work better for you.
Headaches and mental fogginess
By now, we have illustrated that Valerian has a sedative effect, which counters any sleep problems. But you might be experiencing a range of other side effects – from headaches and mental fogginess – especially if you take it during the day. These are signs that the supplement isn’t working for you.
With its ability to ease constipation and improve digestion, Valerian is a popular solution to beat bloat. It works by relaxing the muscles in your intestines and increasing your frequency of bowel movements – but perhaps it works a bit too well…
In some cases, Valerian may cause users to experience diarrhea, stomach discomfort, and nausea. 18% of participants in the study reported an increase in a runny tummy.
Possible Drug Interactions With Valerian
It is a natural herbal supplement, but it doesn’t mean Valerian treatment can’t interact with other medications. It’s important to tell your healthcare provider about all the medications you’re taking the root or Valerian extract. If you experience any side effects while using valerian, stop using it immediately.
If you consume alcohol while taking Valerian, there is a chance of experiencing drowsiness and cognitive impairment, similar to boozing it up on sleeping pills. So if you’re planning to have some fun tonight, then maybe it’s better if you skip this combination altogether!
Alprazolam (Xanax) interaction
Alprazolam, better known as Xanax, and Valerian can interact with each other, and not in a fun way. It is important to speak to your doctor or pharmacist before taking them as a combination. It is also essential to monitor your medication levels carefully while taking either of these supplements.
The same goes for any sedative medications or CNS depressants. And as we’ve mentioned above, be sure to avoid drinking alcohol while taking Valerian as this could increase the effects of the drug-related side effects you may experience.
The safe daily dose of Valerian ranges between 200mg to 900mg per day, but it is best to start with smaller doses and work your way up.
Who Shouldn’t Take Valerian
You don’t have to be a health guru to know that Valerian is good for you. But, there is a caveat – it’s not safe if you’re pregnant, nursing, or taking other medications listed above. Valerian can hamper the development of a baby, and is also not approved for use by people who suffer from seizures, hypertension, or heart problems.
Understanding The Risks
Valerian is an incredible natural supplement – it has been used in the form of tablets, extracts, and tinctures for centuries for a plethora of health benefits. Mostly, it has traditionally been used to promote relaxation and sleep because it contains certain compounds that affect both our central nervous system (CNS) as well as our immune system
However, as with any herbal supplement, there is always a risk of side effects when taking it. Thankfully, side effects are usually mild and short-lived. or at least they should be. If you experience any side effects of Valerian root that are severe or last for more than a few days, please consult your healthcare provider. In addition, be sure to read the dosing instructions carefully before taking valerian tablets.
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Reinette Robbertze is a highly qualified professional in the health and nutrition industry, having completed both Journalism and Nutrition diplomas. With a remarkable portfolio of health blogs and magazine articles to her name, Reinette’s writing is fueled by her genuine passion for healthy living. Drawing on her academic background, Reinette delivers authentic and insightful information to her readers. Her engaging writing style, blended with personal anecdotes, creates an immersive experience that keeps readers engaged and informed. Keep following her work for the latest updates and informative articles on health and nutrition.