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Wellness One-oh-One: Valerian Root

by Hannah Smith

Welcome to the Wellness One-oh-Ones, a digital encyclopedia for all your wellness needs. This series is geared to tackle those everyday questions you secretly ask yourself in wonderment when you hear about a new trend. Instead of pretending to know what people are talking about, come hang with us as we uncover the latest and greatest in the wellness industry. Check back every other Wednesday to pick up your refill — no doctor’s signature required. 

One thing we all have in common, one thing we ALL need, is sleep. Some nights falling asleep is hard, and on some nights, staying asleep is even harder. No matter your experience, they’re all frustrating and we can all use a little helping hand. Though melatonin is always at top of mind, some products have begun introducing Valerian root as a sleep aid. Learn more about how Valerian root works and shop some of our favorite sleep products below.

What is Valerian Root?

Valerian is an herb native to both Europe and Asia, whose root portion has been used for medicinal purposes for over 2,000 years. In those 2,000 years, it has been used primarily to reduce anxiety and induce a sleep-like state, which goes to show it’s been hailed as a working remedy for ages.

How Does Valerian Root Work?

Valerian is comprised of antioxidants, compounds, and acids, all of which have been linked to sleep promotion and reduced anxiety. Some of these include valerenic acid, isovaleric acid, and hesperidin. More notably, though, is how Valerian Root interacts with GABA receptors in the brain. GABA is a chemical messenger that helps regulate the nervous system, and in turn, the body’s response to stress. The brain can break GABA down, leading to heightened senses of stress, anxiety, and a lack of sleep. Valerian root slows down and helps to prevent the breakdown of GABA, in turn stabilizing mood, stress, and sleep.

What Results Should I Expect?

As everyone’s experience with sleep is different, so will your specific results. That said, in a controlled study of Valerian root 88% of participants reported improved sleep quality and 50% of participants reported what they called a perfect night’s sleep. It has also been shown to drastically reduce the time in which it takes to get to sleep. With this in mind, it is important to note that Valerian root has not been proven as a useful method against actual sleep disorders yet, so if you do suffer with something more serious, please consult a doctor.

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