A natural sedative and a calming plant, valerian can help with many stress-related ailments. Anxiety and heart palpitations, depressions and insomnia are just a few of the things this plant can help with. Its extract, the Valerian essential oil is widely used to improve and prevent anxiety attacks, stress and the lack of sleep.
Find out, from this article, how to keep depression at bay and how to improve the quality of sleep among others.
We all lead busy lives and we all need a little bit of natural support to cope with all the stress. Valerian is a great plant! Its extract is very popular among those who seek the benefits of a drug but without the nasty side effects.
I will tell you more about the medicinal effects of valerian in the first part of the article. You’ll see exactly how it works, and you’ll find out a lot more about this aromatic essence. Find out about its smell, its properties and what it is usually substituted with.
In the last part of the article, I’ll give you some of its most popular uses. Remember that Valerian essential oil shouldn’t be used alone or in large doses. Keep reading to find out what the recommended dose is and the precautions for using this oil.
Did You Know?
- Dioscorides and Galen (two medical professionals) used to call this plant “Phu”. This term means “foul odor” in Greek.
What You Need to Know about the Root of Valerian and Its Effects
Botanical name: Valeriana officinalis
Color and scent: yellow – green, or brown – yellow oil with a foul odor!
Texture: medium thick oil
The valerian plant has very beautiful tall flowers, with a sweet floral scent. But once the roots are dried, the main chemical constituents begin to smell bad. So, the essential oil of Valerian, which is steam distilled from the roots of the plant, smells very bad too.
In the end it’s a matter of taste, but most people don’t find its smell agreeable. Luckily, the oil itself can’t be used on its own in Aromatherapy. The reason is because a large dose of this oil can lead to various unpleasant effects. And in order for it to fully work, you need to use quite large doses.
I will tell you more about the dosage in the next chapter of this post. Until then, my point is that in order for Valerian oil to work without side effects, it needs to be paired with other calming oils. That is a very good thing because other scents can mask the bad smell of the root.
This plant grows all over the globe, where there’s temperate climate. Europe and Asia are especially good for the plant to thrive and make fresh Valerian essential oil. There are a few other species of this root that are used for essential oils.
However, the official species is the one I’m referring to in this article (valeriana officinalis). So, whenever you hear Valerian oil or liquid extract know that it is this species they’re talking about. If they’re referring to other types of oil, they will mention them.
You should know that the chemical constituents of this oil vary a lot. Depending on the plant variety, plant age and time of harvest, each oil might have different properties. All valerian oils contain pretty much the same constituents. It’s the amount of each constituent that gives the oil its characteristics.
Generally speaking, the essential oil of Valerian may contain:
- Alpha and Beta-pinene
- Alpha and Beta-humulene
- Bornyl acetate
- Valerenic acid
All these chemical constituents give the oil strong antimicrobial properties and mild antifungal effects. They were also found to have antioxidant qualities.
Valerian Essential Oil against Anxiety, Insomnia and Stress
The chemical structure of this aromatic oil is much more complex than a few constituents. Tens of them work in a synergy to help release an ideal amount of hormones. This hormonal balance will help the body go into a deep and restful sleep.
Ancient Chinese and Indian peoples used the roots of this plant for medicinal properties. They would also use it to give their tobacco a specific scent. In Greco-Roman times, the plant was highly recognized for its calming and soothing qualities.
They would use valerian tinctures for eyesight problems, coughs, and menstruation imbalances. But they would use the root for shortness of breath and digestive problems too.
The aromatic oil of Valerian can:
- Reduce anxiety.
- Improve the mood.
- Reduce negative feelings and energy in the body that cause stress.
- Control the nerve cells and reduce anxiety.
- Stimulate a normal metabolic rate and calm down all abnormal heart beatings.
- Reduce high blood pressure.
How does Valerian essential oil work?
Valerian works like a drug but without the normal side effects because it’s natural. It is thought that this essential oil enhances its effects on the same brain receptors as Valium does. The advantage with valerian is that the body tolerates it much better. With this oil, there haven’t been reported any addictions, nausea or other side effects that you get with drugs.
How to use the essence of Valerian?
Because of its bad smell you can take this essential oil internally, in a capsule. However, internal consumption is subject to a lot of controversy and I suggest you talk to a doctor first. Or at least make a very thorough research in advance.
One safe way to use Valerian essential oil is to burn it in a diffuser. Pour 3 – 4 drops in the water of your diffuser water and let it burn for maximum 20 minutes per hour, before bed.
This oil can also be used in Aromatherapy blends and massage lotions. You can use between 6 and 15 drops of essential oil per Oz carrier oil in blends. It can definitely be added to a steaming bath also. There are lots of benefits in a bath therapy!
Before we move on to the next chapter, I want you to remember the Latin name of this plant. Always look for it on the label. Some producers may alter the oil and blend it with Spikenard. If you trust your provider then this extra care should not be the case.
Spikenard is often used to alter the oil of valerian just because they’re closely related. Of course, being closely related doesn’t mean they’re the same. Each type of oil is different. Even those that bear the same name cannot be confused (Rosemary ct. eucalyptol, Rosemary ct. camphor, etc.).
Did You Know?
- Another name the people in medieval times used to call valerian was “heal all”. The plant was used to treat a very wide range of health problems.
Valerian Essential Oil Uses, Dosage and Precautions
This oil should not be taken alone. Use it combination with other plants or essential oils that promote calmness and relaxation. Two such plants are passion flower and St. John’s Wort. Besides masking the oil’s bad odor, other oils will work with it in a synergy.
The body tends to adapt to any dose you give it, and so you’d have to raise the one of Valerian every few weeks. High doses of Valerian oil can be dangerous! It can be too numbing and induce lethargy.
You are recommended to talk to your doctor first and see the correct dose and time of treatment he suggests!
Generally speaking, a dose of 500 milligrams (about 0.0175 ounces) in a capsule before bedtime will help with insomnia. These capsules must be filled with vegetable oil mixed with the essential oil.
For a nocturnal sedative, you can also use a valerian tea. The tea could also be chamomile with a few drops of Valerian essential oil in it.
Valerian Uses for Sleeping Disorders and Associated Ailments
The ability of the oil of Valerian to balance the hormones and relax the mind makes it good at this specific task. Use this oil in a massage blend with other essential oils and massage all the pulse points before going to bed.
You can add some Lavender and Chamomile over the Valerian in a roll on bottle. Fill it with a vegetable oil of your choice and keep it in a dark, cool place. Shake well before use. At the same time, you can also pour a few drops in some milk and into your bath water. Or if you prefer and like its smell, you can diffuse this oil for 15 – 20 minutes. One hour before bedtime of inhaling this oil should be enough to see results.
Being so calming and grounding, Valerian oil can be inhaled every day. It promotes a better mood and more relaxation. A good quality sleep will also help with all dark thoughts that test your coping abilities every day.
Mental strain, tension and even trauma are among the targeted symptoms of anxiety that the oil can help with.
Whenever you feel depressive thoughts coming your way, you can diffuse some Valerian oil. Mix it with Ylang-Ylang and Jasmine essential oils for a nicer scent. Scientists believe that people can inhale certain scents when their calm. Later on, when they’re not calm anymore and smell the same scent, they will relax instantly.
The brain comes to associate certain smells with memories. The mind is indeed an amazing thing and it can be educated!
- Stress and headaches.
The negative effects of stress can wreak havoc into your body and life. Take a few moments off, a break from what you do and inhale deeply a drop or two of Valerian essential oil. If its scent displeases you make sure to blend it in advance with something you like.
You can use your palms to hold the blend and cup them over your nose for a deep inhalation. This is especially useful when you’re at work or your family doesn’t like the smell.
- Heart palpitations and high blood pressure.
This is a volatile substance, that’s how all essential oils are. The volatile constituents of Valerian oil can calm down the brain and the heart rate. It is a very good oil for calming down nervous breakdowns. At the same time, a relaxed cardiovascular system will result in a lower blood pressure.
Inhale the oil or use it in a blend and massage your temples and chest area with it every time you feel an emotional storm coming. Rest for a few minutes and let the oil work into your brain and bloodstream.
Before concluding the article, I’d like to give you these few precaution lines. They’re for a safe use of what’s known as a great natural sedative ever since ancient times.
A few precaution measures for when using Valerian essential oil
- Beware of the dose you use during the day. It is always best you use this oil in the evening or after you’re done working.
- Make sure you don’t operate any vehicles while using valerian.
- Do not take this oil with other sleeping treatments.
- As long as you don’t use it for a long time, Valerian oil is safe to use.
- If you are pregnant or lactating make sure you have the doctor’s approval before using it.
- Do not use on children younger than the age of 6 without medical consent.
- High doses can cause lethargy and drowsiness. Make sure you always follow the recommended dose.
- Test the oil for allergic reactions on the inside of your forearm before you use it the first time.
In conclusion, this aromatic oil can have a lot of benefits towards a restless mind. The daily stress and responsibilities may weigh heavy on you, but you can manage it. Today, we have Aromatherapy and there’s no other more enjoyable therapy to use. Essential oils are great for our physical and mental health.
Valerian essential oil is especially good with the last part. It can be used to calm down, chase away dark thoughts and negativity, and promote a deep and restful sleep. All these things contribute a lot to the quality of life.
Just make sure you use the lowest dose possible and in combination with other essential oils. This way you’ll get potent blends that’ll help you get the results you want. Remember that a little of this oil goes a long way, just like it goes with all the other essential oils!
What are your thoughts on Valerian essential oil? Have you ever tried it? What were its effects on you?