In the United States, millions of Americans suffer from sleep disorders leading to sleep deprivation and poor daily performance at work and at school. With prescription sleep aides, these sleep deprived adults often experience daytime drowsiness and grogginess leading to an even greater decrease in the performance at work and at school. For some sleep deprived individuals, turning to natural and holistic measures, in an effort to improve sleep quality, may be the only viable option. One such alternative medicine approach, with rich medicinal history, involves the use of the herbal supplement known as valerian.
Valerian, is a mild herbal supplement providing a sedative affect to the sleep deprived adult. Offering a dual approach to sleep deprivation, valerian root has shown, in controlled studies, to improve not only the quality of night time sleep but also decrease the amount of time it takes to fall asleep thereby offering a viable alternative to prescription medications for individuals suffering from insomnia.
While not FDA approved, valerian root can be purchased, over the counter, in many health food and vitamin or herbal stores and boutiques. To the surprise of many consumers, and not commonly known to the general public, is the degree to which valerian is used in FDA approved drugs commonly marketed as mild sedatives or sleeping aids.
Additionally, dating back to the days of Roman and Greek history, valerian root was considered a medicinal herb providing therapeutic and relaxation benefits to ill patients. Today, valerian has been recommended by alternative medicine practitioners as a supplement to improve sleep disorders, including insomnia, and other health complications including epilepsy and even ADHD.
Generally marketed as the root, valerian is commonly sold in sustained release tablets containing 500 milligrams of the sleep inducing enhancer. For most manufacturers and distributors of valerian root, the recommendation is made to use valerian approximately one hour before bed time and allow for up to eight hours of sleep. In doing so, valerian has been shown to provide the most effective therapeutic, non addictive, benefit without morning grogginess.
As with many non-FDA approved supplements, the use of valerian herbal supplements can not be conclusively verified as successful for all patients, under all conditions. Additionally, side effects are common with the use of valerian root tablets and may include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness and even headaches with some side effects of such a degree so as to induce insomnia just by consuming the herbal supplement.
Additionally, due to lack of FDA approval, valerian is certainly not recommended in women who are pregnant, or may become pregnant, as the risks to the fetus are unknown. In terms of ADHD and epilepsy treatments, valerian is only recommended in patients over the age of three simply due to lack of information with regard to the adverse impact valerian root may have on child growth and development in children under the age of three.
As with any natural sleeping aid, ensuring the use of the product, as recommended and under the right conditions, will ensure the most optimal of outcomes. When suffering from sleep deprivation, especially insomnia, consult an herbal or alternative medicine consultant regarding the use of valerian root supplements.