Valerian – Is the stink worth the sleep benefits?
Valerian is an herbal plant found growing wild and in back yard gardens and while its flowers are pretty, its smell is pungent. You may have walked past a patch, stopped to admire the flower and wondered, “What is that smell”? It just might have been Valerian. An interesting fact is that the strong-smelling oils and other compounds found in Valerian are responsible for its sedative effects. There are over 250 species of Valerian, and only two of them are
used medicinally, Valerian Officinalis is the one most often found in supplements. Valerian contains compounds such as “Valerenic Acid.” This particular compound helps to increase brain levels of GABA, which slows down nerve activity in the part of the brain involved with fear and emotional responses to stress. This produces a calming effect similar to anti-anxiety drugs, which is why Valerian has been called “nature’s valium.” It also affects the adenosine receptors, which promote sleep and relaxation and the serotonin receptors, which manage the sleep-wake cycle and finally, those feel-good hormones for men and women. Valerian has been shown to promote a more natural sleep after a few weeks of continued use, without the risk of dependency or causing that “hangover” feeling in the morning. Valerian is being studied for its effect on improving hyperactivity and focus in children with ADHD. It may help with anxiety, restlessness, and obsessive behaviour, which are symptoms often seen in ADHD. As with all things good, there are some things to be aware of. Valerian may increase and cause vivid dreams, and due to its tranquillizing effect, this herb should not be used while driving, operating heavy machinery or during other activities that require alertness and mental acuity. It should not be taken with medications for anti-anxiety, anesthesia or sedatives, without consulting your health care provider. It should not be mixed with alcohol or recreational drugs that cause sedation. There is also a rare side effect for Valerian that affects a small percentage of people, whereby use of this herb has the opposite effect, and instead of a sedative effect, it can cause overstimulation, nervousness and tension. People with liver disease, pregnant or breastfeeding should not use this herb.
Sleeping Sound Supplements
If you are considering a Valerian supplement, look for brands such as Botanica: Valerian Liquid Phytocaps. They contain a concentrated dosage of liquid Valerian in the capsules, rather than having to consume the liquid itself. It is also certified organic and provides that “clean label” we are all looking for. Other Products that you may want to consider for sleep are Botanica Kava Root Liquid Capsule. Kava helps to quiet a racing mind, producing a sense of calm. It is recognized for its anti-anxiety benefits. If your sleeping disturbances are related to anxiety and
nervousness, a Kava supplement is a good option for helping you to fall and stay asleep. Holy Basil is such a fantastic herb that we’ll talk about it as a stand-alone supplement at a later date, but its health actions relative to sleep are worth mentioning today. If your insomnia or sleep-wake patterns are sporadic, reducing day time stress can help ease you into are more regular sleep. Herbs, such as Holy Basil and Ashwagandha are adaptogenic herbs can help. Which means they help your body to better handle and process the stress, so you are not succumbing to a lot of highs and then a lot of lows. Botanica does have both products in phytonutrient liquid gel caps. Botanica Holy Basil Liquid Capsules and Botanica Ashwagandha Liquid Capsules. Herbal supplements can interact with medications that are intended to treat the same symptoms rendering your meds less efficient or increasing their potency. Discuss concerns, interactions and any side effect with your health care provider.
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