Insomnia sleep disorder is as old as time itself and affects the lives of literally millions of people throughout the world causing slight irritation to some and badly affecting the quality of life for a substantial proportion of us.
Curing insomnia and getting back to nights of natural sleep can be difficult but, for a lot of people, the answer lies in the use of time-honored traditional herbal remedies like valerian root.
Valerian, a hardy perennial flowering plant with sweetly smelling white or pink flowers, can be grown in various parts of Europe and Asia and now also grows naturally in areas of the United States. Other names typically used for valerian include: garden valerian, and garden heliotrope (which is not related to Heliotrope - Heliotropum).
Valerian is also referred to by various folk names: Phu, All-Heal, Cat's Valerian, Capon's Trailer, Sets Wale, English Valerian, Vandal Root, Bloody Butcher, Fragrant Valerian, Set Well, Amantilla, , and Red Valerian.
The chief components used for medicinal purposes are the roots, rhizomes (underground stems) and stolons (horizontal stems). Normally harvested in September, the dried roots can be used to prepare teas and tinctures, while the dried plant materials typically find their way into pills or capsules.
There is evidence of the use of valerian as a medicinal herb as far back as the time of rome and ancient Greece. Hippocrates wrote about its therapeutic uses and, in the 2nd century, Galen prescribed valerian for insomnia. The 16th century saw it used to treat trembling, headaches, nervousness, and heart palpitations. In the mid-19th century, many people considered valerian a stimulant which caused several of the same complaints it was thought to treat and held it in low esteem. During World War II the British used it to relieve the stress of air raids.
As opposed to many other natural herbal sleep aids, to gain the benefits of the effects of valerian you need to use it regularly, with the full effects becoming apparent slowly and steadily over time.
Results will normally appear after about one month and regular use promotes deep relaxation and natural sleep. Several different studies suggest valerian as far and away the best natural solution for insomnia and general sleeplessness for many people.
Research at the Nestlé Research Laboratories in Switzerland demonstrated that a 450 mg dose of valerian in an aqueous extract is the optimal dose as a treatment for insomnia. A higher dose ordinarily results in grogginess without any increased effectiveness, and therefore care should be exercised when using valerian as a treatment for insomnia.
In addition, a double-blind crossover study of 128 individuals undertaken in 1982, found valerian root to not only be effective as a sedative for insomnia, but also to be of assistance in raising the overall quality of sleep in the participants. Frequently prescribed as a calming sleep aid, valerian also plays a very useful role in dealing with anxiety-related sleeping difficulties.
Unlike other typically prescribed sleep medications, valerian lacks toxicity, doesn't impair your ability to operate heavy machinery or drive and doesn't exaggerate the effects of alcohol.
It has been documented that valerian can act as a delayed stimulant for some people depending upon body chemistry. With certain metabolic conditions, the effect is one of initially calming you down only to give rise to a surge of energy some hours later - not an effect wanted by those interested in taking valerian as a nighttime sleeping remedy.
Some professional herbalists recommend using fresh valerian root extract rather than an extract of dried valerian, as this is less likely to lead to such a reaction.
Donald Saunders is the author of a number of health related publications including "Help Me To Sleep - A Guide to Natural Sleep Remedies". To find out more about the use of herbs to promote natural sleep and sleep disorders in general visit http://helpmetosleep.com today.