Valerian: medicinal properties, method of use and benefits
The genre Valerian belongs to the family of Valerianaceae and includes perennial herbaceous plants that live in humid areas, in woods, along streams up to 2000 m above sea level and is found spontaneously in regions with a temperate and cool climate.It is native to central Europe even if it has now been also naturalized in Western Europe and North America.
The species that is cultivated and most widespread due to its characteristics is the Valeriana officinalis L.
The valerian has a decidedly very majestic and elegant bearing, reaching even one and a half meters in height. The roots consist of a rhizome that reaches up to 30 cm in length, rich in roots that emit an unpleasant odor.
The leaves the lower ones are opposite, petiolate while the upper ones are devoid of them, imparipinnate, provided with 5-20 more or less wide leaflets of a beautiful intense green color.
The flowers of valerian are are small, hermaphroditic (flowers that contain both female and male reproductive organs), white or pink collected in umbrellas and fragrant (not very pleasant) and appear from spring and throughout the summer.
The fruit it is an achene surmounted by a sort of feather that facilitates its dispersion by the wind and ripens from July to September.
Valerian can be considered a polymorphic plant, that is to say that it takes on different aspects depending on the pedo-climatic conditions in which it grows.
It is found spontaneously above all in humid areas but can also be grown in the home garden as it develops without excessive difficulty.It is a plant that grows well both exposed to the sun and in partial shade, it prefers temperate climates even if it resists low temperatures . It adapts to almost all types of soil even if it prefers medium-heavy soils, which tend to be clayey, neutral or even slightly basic and requires a humid environment but with well-drained soils. It propagates either by seed or by division of the plant.
Valerian is known for its properties and is the best natural remedy for nervous imbalances.
His constituents are: essential oils, valerenic acids, alkaloids and it has not yet been identified which active ingredient (or active ingredients) responsible for its sedative properties.
It is used for sleep disturbances, for anxious manifestations such as panic attacks, anxiety attacks, tremors, abdominal cramps, nervousness, palpitations, etc. It is also used in the case of stress migraines.
The Italian Medicines Agency classifies valerian-based drugs as psycholeptics, i.e. as sedatives that act on the central nervous system.
USED PARTS OF THE PLANT
Valerian uses fresh or dried rhizome which is harvested in autumn from plants of at least two years of age.The rhizome must be immediately cleaned well from the earth that adheres very firmly to the roots, washed in water and left to dry in the air.
HOW TO USE IT
Generally it is not used much in its natural state as it has a very unpleasant smell but as a medicine already prepared to be bought at authorized retailers. In any case, infusions, tinctures, capsules, tablets and extracts can be made of it.
Valerian is not used in cosmetics.
The term valerian comes from the Latin be worth "To have strength" probably in reference to the fact that this plant was in good health.
Valerian is also called cat grass or catnip because its scent attracts them and basically destroys it as they rub on it. For this reason it is not easily found in places frequented by cats.The dry root also attracts mice and can be used to hunt these annoying rodents.
It is a plant that has been known since ancient times and in the Middle Ages it was considered a panacea and it is said that Fabio Colonna, a famous scientist of the 1500s, cured epilepsy thanks to this plant.
Valerian is not used in cooking. Valerian is often confused with valerianella (Valerianella olitoria or Valerianella locusta) of the same family, known as gurnard(photo below) which provides a delicious salad that we usually find ready in sealed bags.
Valerianella has some of the properties of Valeriana officinalis even in a milder way: purifying, emollient and laxative. It is very rich in vitamin A.
In any case, it must be borne in mind that it must be used with great caution and under direct medical supervision.
Valerian: uses, benefits, properties and contraindications
Valeriana officinalis L., also called catnip. It is a perennial herbaceous plant with an underground rhizome and flowers that come together like an umbrella.
There valerian, also known by the popular name of “cat grass”, is a perennial herbaceous plant of the Valerianaceae family. The plant is composed of an underground rhizome, which is harvested in autumn and spring, and of flowers that gather like an umbrella. It grows in humid and shady places, in meadows and woods throughout Italy, from the sea to the mountains.
Valeriana officinalis: what it is
There Valeriana officinalis belongs to Valerianaceae family and is characterized by a vigorous posture and a perennial life cycle. It is found at all latitudes as long as it is not sunny and humid places, both at sea level and in the mountains.
Valerian is also known as 'catnip' and it owes this name to the fact that, when it is in bloom, it gives off a very pleasant aroma. In addition, this smell acts as a real attraction for cats who are attracted to the plant and rub against it repeatedly.
But, the virtues of this plant have been known since ancient times to the point that it has always been used to treat many ailments. Therefore, this aspect confirms the notoriety of valerian, which, to date, is largely exploited in herbal and medical fields.
Parts used in pharmacopoeia
The plant blooms between May and April and only the part of the main root (rhizome) and lateral rootlets. From these parts, the active ingredients are extracted or they are used whole to prepare infusions.
Properties and Benefits
The main pharmacologically active components of escolzia are the isoquinoline alkaloids (as the californidine andescoltzina), which are responsible for the sedative, anxiolytic and minor analgesic effects.
There californidine isolated seems to have hypnotic (sleep inducing), sedative, anxiolytic and spasmolytic effects.
Escolzia against anxiety
- One study investigated the effects of a combination of Escolzia (20mg aqueous dry extract), Hawthorn (75mg aqueous dry extract) and Magnesium (75mg elemental magnesium) in 130 patients with generalized anxiety disorder 1.
Compared to placebo, the treatment showed statistically significant benefits associated with all anxiety parameters (assessed by Hamilton scale scores) at days 14, 60 and 90. Side effects did not differ from placebo.
- The sedative and anxiolytic action of escolzia could depend on an interaction of the active ingredients with benzodiazepine receptors, as demonstrated in a study on mice 1.
Escolzia against Sleep Disorders
- Doses higher than 100 mg / kg of aqueous extract of Escolzia appear to accelerate sleep induction in rats, confirming the empirically appreciated sedative action 1. In the same study, at lower doses, equal to 25 mg / kg, escolzia produced an anxiolytic action.
- An open-label clinical study of 60 patients (2 children, 38 women, 20 men) suffering from sleep disorders investigated the effects of a nebulized escolzia product. Adults received a dose of 2 grams of the product (2 capsules of 0.50g at dinner and before bed), while children received a total dose of 0.5 grams.
After 6 months of treatment, 43% of patients reported excellent results, mainly for sleep quality. 43% of patients reported good results, while 14% withdrew from the study due to lack of efficacy. The authors concluded that escolzia exerts a positive, effective and constant action on sleep disorders (Baldacci R. Contribution à utilization en médecine de ville d'Escholtzia californica. Phytotherapy 1990, 22: 31-33).
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Escolzia against pain
A product containing 3 grams of dried herbs standardized to 0.8% isoquinoline alkaloids (californidine, escoltzine and protopin) is licensed by the government agency Health Canada and marketed as an analgesic and mild sedative (hypnotic), to be used as an analgesic or co- analgesic in the management of chronic pain disease.
This product was tested in an open-label study of patients with chronic pain, experimenting with different administration protocols and analyzing the subjects' self-assessments on pain and insomnia.
The authors concluded that the standardized California poppy extract can be used in the management of chronic pain and as a mild hypnotic-sedative for the management of pain and insomnia (Ref. Chamberland G. Herbal remedies for pain management. Master Herbalist Thesis presented to the Dominion Herbal College of Canada 2012).
It should not be taken at the same time as barbiturates, by children with less than 8 years old and by pregnant or breastfeeding women. There V.Officinalis if taken in moderate quantities and for no more than 2 weeks, it is a plant considered safe and does not cause side effects noteworthy.
If instead it is taken in such a way excessive or for a period of prolonged time some side effects may occur. Headache, difficulty sleeping, increased blood pressure, dizziness, blurred vision e tachycardia.
It must not be hired in the two hours preceding any work where a particular request is made concentration, including the guide.
They can be taken to promote sleep 20 drops of tincture in a little water half an hour before going to bed.
Unlike sleeping pills and sedatives, this herb can be taken without the risk of having to incur side effects such as daytime sleepiness and dizziness.
The American entity Food and Drug Administration classified the plant as generally safe, thanks to theabsence of side effects particular if consumed in the recommended doses and times.
The side effects were found in the hiring of high doses of V.officinalis quantifiable in 900 mg per day of dry extract continued for a long time.
The secret of a detox salad? ---> Valerian, or properties and benefits that make the songino the delight of Europe
Good but also healthy, it is the summer salad that will pleasantly surprise you
Crunchy and delicious, with a light and very fresh flavor, the valerian with salad gives an unmistakable touch. Its green leaves, rich in vitamin C, folic acid and minerals, such as iron and potassium, make it a nutritional treasure. To discover and taste.
Valerian for salad, cultivation
Some argue that valerian is native to Sicily and Sardinia. What we know for sure is that this plant also called songino it is grown only in the temperate zone of Europe, while in the rest of the world it is neither cultivated nor consumed. It is a 100% European delight.
Valerian contains three antioxidant vitamins (A, C and E), along with valuable phytonutrients. Added to this is the good content of iron and potassium, which makes it anti-anemic and diuretic. Let's analyze the features.
1) Provitamin A: Valerian is very rich in beta-caroten, its most important nutrient. A 100 gram serving satisfies 70% of the daily requirement of this vitamin.
2) Vitamins C and E: it contains a considerable reserve of vitamin C (100 grams covers half of the daily needs), together with a small dose of vitamin E.
3) Folic acid: valerian stands out, like other vegetables, for its folic acid, a great cell protector that helps set iron in the blood and activates the production of white blood cells. A serving of 100 grams contributes half of what is needed daily.
4) Iron: with its 2 mg of iron per 100 g (a figure similar to that of meat) it is an appreciable source of this mineral, essential for transporting oxygen to cells and preventing anemia.
Although it is a food with an excellent nutritional composition, however, its effects are limited by the quantities in which we usually consume them, i.e. around 25-30 grams. Natural medicine recognizes the diuretic, purifying, digestive, relaxing effects, strengthening on hair and nails and eye protection. Valerian is also useful for the kidneys, bones, and nervous and cardiovascular systems. But perhaps the most distinctive effect is due to its content of called compounds valepotriatos, natural sedatives able to relax the central nervous system. That's why the valerian herbal tea they are so widespread.
Valerian in the kitchen
The best way to enjoy its fresh, herbaceous and slightly acidic flavor is undoubtedly to eat it raw. If you are lucky enough to collect the wild one, for cleaning it is enough to remove the small roots and wash the rosettes quickly in a bowl with very cold water, even with ice, and a few drops of vinegar for safety. In salads with sour or hardened dressings it should be added at the last moment so that the leaves do not become limp. And the same if you intend to cook it. The cooking must be minimal, usually a minute will be enough to soften it. With any valerian kind of salad it will be particularly tasty. What ingredients can it be mixed with? Its flavor mixes very well with asparagus, raw or cooked beets, roasted pumpkin or mashed potatoes, carrots, celery, grated turnip, raw fennel, tomatoes, corn, avocado, cucumbers, mushrooms and especially potatoes, probably her favorite companions. . Its texture goes well with almost any recipe.
Valerian salad, how to store it
Before purchasing, you should check that it does not have loose leaves or that they are starting to turn yellow. They should be stiff and shiny with a very deep green color. It is good to shake the bags to check if the moisture condensation is blocked and if there are any crushed leaves. Excessive humidity does not damage it, so it is best to store it in a container with kitchen paper on the bottom. It usually lasts no longer than 2 or 3 days, so it is not recommended to buy it if it is not consumed soon. In any case, it must be kept in the refrigerator for a maximum of three days.
Contraindications of valerian
Valerian should not be consumed in pregnancy, during the'feeding time or in conjunction with other therapies based on barbiturates, antidepressants, sleeping pills is tranquilizers, because it enhances the effect. Side effects, however rare, of valerian can be headache, disorders gastrointestinal is dizziness. There are no known cases of allergies.