People make valerian tea from the root of the valerian plant. Valerian root has mild sedative properties and people can use it as a sleep aid and to treat anxiety.
The Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) notes that people with insomnia and nervous tension can take valerian as a sleep aid. However, the evidence regarding its effectiveness in treating insomnia is inconclusive.
This article discusses the safety, uses, side effects, and benefits of valerian tea. It will also discuss the precautions a person should take when consuming valerian tea and potential drug interactions.
What is it? Valerian tea is made from the dried roots and rhizomes or underground stems of the valerian plant, Valeriana officinalis. Valerian tea usually comes in the form of a teabag, but a person can also purchase it as a loose-leaf tea.
People may describe its taste as “woody” or “earthy.” The taste becomes stronger the longer a person leaves the tea to brew. Some people may find the smell unpleasant and may wish to add honey to their valerian tea to make it sweeter.
Valerian tea also often contains other herbs, and manufacturers may blend it with any number of other ingredients, such as:
Is it safe? The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) states that valerian is safe for most adults for short-term use of approximately 28 days.
It is important to note that valerian is not subject to strict regulations as it is a food supplement. Additionally, most studies have not lasted long enough to determine the safety of long-term valerian use. Valerian tea cannot make people high. It can, however, cause a person to experience more vivid dreams. As a result, those who frequently have nightmares may want to avoid drinking valerian tea.
Benefits and uses: People may drink valerian tea to help treat:
A 2018 animal study states that people may also use valerian as a muscle relaxant. However, more research is required before people consider using valerian for this purpose. The current research is not sufficient for determining the effectiveness of valerian to treat any of the above conditions, and most reported evidence for its efficacy is either anecdotal or from small-scale studies.
A 2020 systematic review and meta-analysis found that the outcomes of studies examining the effectiveness of valerian on sleep were inconsistent. The authors suggested that the different outcomes may result from the varying quality of the extracts used in each study. The authors also suggested that supplements made from whole valerian root rather than extracts might have more reliable effects.
Learn more about valerian root and its ability to treat anxiety and insomnia at https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/318088.
Side effects: The NCCIH states that people have reported the following side effects connected to the use of valerian:
Precautions: The ODS recommends that pregnant or breastfeeding people do not consume valerian tea as there is no data on the safety and efficacy of valerian in these populations. People should also avoid giving valerian tea to children under the age of 3, as researchers have not evaluated the potential risks.
In addition, people should be aware of the potential sedative effects of valerian if they are also taking sedative drugs or consuming alcohol.
Those drinking valerian tea for anxiety throughout the day should not operate heavy machinery, as the tea may make people drowsy.
Drug interactions: According to the ODS, it is possible that drinking valerian tea may amplify the effects of sedatives, other medications, or certain herbs and dietary supplements with sedative properties. These substances may also amplify the effects of valerian tea. Therefore, a person should not consume it alongside barbituates or similar medications.
The NCCIH suggests not drinking valerian tea with alcohol, although they accept that the sleep-inducing effects are unproven.
An article published in the American Family Physician journal suggests that the risk of drug interactions with valerian is unlikely or very limited.
People should always speak with a healthcare professional before using any dietary supplements.
Dose: Most studies on valerian focus on the capsule or tablet form rather than the tea. The tea is likely to contain a much lower concentration of valerian, and manufacturers may combine it with other herbs.
Therefore, there is not much data surrounding how much valerian tea is safe to drink. However, according to an older 2003 review, one cup of valerian tea prepared as per instructions, 30 minutes to 2 hours before bed, is enough to treat sleeplessness. If a person has loose valerian tea, they should steep 2–3 grams for 10–15 minutes.
The safety of long-term valerian use is unknown, and people should consider this when choosing how frequently to drink valerian tea.
In conclusion, people can drink valerian tea to help treat insomnia and anxiety, among other conditions. However, there is not enough research to confirm the effectiveness of valerian tea. Current research is limited, and the results are inconsistent.
However, although the evidence is inconclusive, valerian tea may be a safe way to treat sleeplessness and anxiety for some people.
A person should not take it alongside certain sedative medications as the effects may be additive, and people may run the risk of excessive sedation.
It is likely that consuming a cup of valerian tea before bed will not have any adverse effects. Therefore, people experiencing insomnia of any kind may wish to try it. However, what works for one person will not necessarily work for everyone.
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