|Article and Photo by Ann Walker|
Contradictory study results seem to afflict valerian. Although one study showed that nearly a month of regular daily consumption was necessary to combat insomnia, another study found a more immediate effect. In a large study, of 128 subjects, valerian extract given before bedtime, worked immediately to improve sleep compared with placebo, which is more in keeping with how the herb is used in practice (PMID: 7122669).
Ambivalent responses to valerian are well known to herbal practitioners: while most patients respond well to valerian taken before bedtime, it does nothing for a minority. Nevertheless, if insomnia is a problem, it is well worth giving it a try and, based on the research mentioned above, perhaps for up to a month before discarding it as ineffective. Fortunately, if valerian proves ineffective for insomnia, all is not lost, as there are several other herbs, mostly taken in combination, which can combat insomnia.
PMID = PubMed identifier
Ann Walker PhD, FCPP, MNIMH, RNutr
Course Director DHM