valerian

Valerian: is one of the best herbal sedatives, gently calming anxiety and easing muscular tension, and acting on the body, mind, and spirit...

Common Names: Valerian, All-Heal, Cat's Valerian, Garden Heliotrope

Botanical Name: Valeriana officinalis

Family: Valerianaceae

Plant Type: Perennial Herb

Parts Used: Root, rhizome (underground stem)

Flowering: June to August

Valerian is native to Europe and Asia, but is naturalized in North America. In the wild, it grows in grasslands, damp meadows, and along streams. It is also cultivated in several European countries, Japan, and the United States.

Description: Growing to four feet, valerian is a clump-forming perennial herb with a yellow-brown rhizome, hollow stems, deeply divided leaves, and small white or pinkish flowers that form flat-topped clusters.

Cultivation: Valerian grows in rich moist humous with a wide range of pH. It is a perennial, hardy to zone 4, and will grow in full sun to part shade. It can be propagated from seed, or by division of the roots. Valerian self-sews and spreads by root runners.

Harvesting: For the herbal medicine market, the rhizomes and roots of second-year plants are used. They are harvested in autumn after the leaves have died back. Dried roots are prepared as teas or tinctures, and extracts are made into capsules and tablets.

Valerian Magick

Love. Sleep. Purification. Protection.

Gender: Feminine

Planet: Venus

Element: Water

Use valerian in protective sachets.

Place it under your pillow to help you fall asleep.

Hang in the home to guard it against lightning strikes.

Powdered valerian root is considered a valid substitute for "graveyard dust."

Herbal Healing with Valerian

Medicinal Actions: Analgesic, antibacterial, anticonvulsive, antidepressant, antidiuretic, antipyretic, antispasmodic, carminative, diuretic, febrifuge, hepatic, hypotensor, nervine, sedative (strong), stomachic, tonic (strong) (nerves), tranquilizer, vermifuge

Medicinal Uses: Valerian has an instant effect, making it useful for people who suffer from panic attacks or who are about to face an ordeal of some sort. Valerian is a tranquilizer useful in treating anxiety, insomnia, and nervous tension. Try valerian with passionflower (Passiflora) or wild lettuce (Lactuca) to help calm your nerves without making you sleepy. Conversly,valerian will help you deal with insomnia if nervous tension is preventing you from sleeping or is waking you during the night. Combine it with hops (Humulus), limeflower (Tilia), or California poppy (Eschscholzia), and keep some by your bed to take as soon as you wake up. Valerian has fewer side effects than Valium and does not react synergistically with alcohol.

Valerian also has a strengthening effect on the heart and may lower blood pressure. It's also an antispasmodoc and can help alleviate stomach or menstrual cramps and irritable bowels. Valerian can be used topically for wounds, ulcers, and eczema. Tincture of valerian helps clear dandruff.

Cautions: Valerian may cause headaches, muscular spasms, and palpitations. Don't take valerian for more than six weeks at a time before breaking for a week, then resuming if necessary.

Body Care with Valerian

  • To reduce high blood pressure, take 1/2 - 1 teaspoon valerian tonic wine up to three times daily, as needed.
  • To soothe anxiety-related pre-menstrual syndrome, take up to 3 size 00 capsules filled with powdered valerian root, three times daily, as required.
  • To draw out a splinter, apply a compress soaked in double-strength valerian infusion twice daily.

Infusion: Crush 1 teaspoon fresh valerian root and soak it for 12 - 24 hours in 1 cup cool water; strain, then drink. For double strength, use 2 teaspoons fresh root in 1 cup cool water.

Tonic wine: Wash 50 g ( 1 3/4 oz) fresh valerian root, then sun-dry for 2 hours. Crush and add to 1 cup acidic white wine. Steep for 1 month.

Source: The Essential Herbs Handbook by Lesley Bremness

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INFUSION

Steep the recommended quantity of leaves or flowers of the herb in one cup of just-boiled water for 10 minutes (this makes one dose). Strain before drinking, or leave the herbs as sprigs and simply remove them. Always cover infusions if you intend to store them, and use them within 24 hours. Drink hot or cold.


DECOCTION

Place the relevant quantity of herbs in 800ml cold water (makes three doses) in a pan. Boil, then simmer for 1 hour to reduce the liquid by a third. Strain through a fine sieve into a jug and store, in a cool place, for up to 24 hours. Drink hot or cold.


TINCTURE

Tinctures can be used to prepare roots or leaves. They include alcohol and water to extract the properties from the herbs which would not be available if a water preparation alone was used. It is possible to replace the alcohol with glycerol or vinegar.

A tincture will last for up to two years, which makes it a very convenient method if you intend long-term use of the herbs.


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