27th Emperor of Rome (253 - 260 A.D.).
Military and civil official under Emperors Decius and Gallus. Became Emperor in defeating Aemilianus's revolt at Spoletum. Started 257. Appointed his son Gallienus co-emperor, and campaigned against the Persians.
Valerian was captured at Edessa, and variously reported to have been skinned alive or kept as a step-stool, by the Persian king Shapur I (or Sapor I).

the Roman Emperors
The best sleepy-herb of them all. For use when you just don't want to wake up, or just can't get to sleep.

Empirical evidence says that females most often find the scent of the ground root repulsive, whereas males find it to have a less-unpleasant, musky scent.

Peterson's Field Guide to Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants says, "Perennial, 4-5 ft. Leaves strongly divided, pinnate; lower ones toothed. Tiny, pale pink to whitish flowers, in tight clusters; June-July. Where Found: Escaped, along roadsides, especially in ne. U.S. Que., Me. to N.J., Pa.; Ohio to Minn. Alien (from Europe). "

Goes on to say, "A well-known herbal calmative, antispasmodic, nerve tonic, used for hypochondria, nervous headaches, irritability, insomnia, (yadayada...). Active components are called valepotriates. Research has confirmed that teas, tinctures, and/or extracts of this plant (woolfish note: particularly of root) are CNS-depressant, antispasmodic, and sedative when agitation is present, but also stimulant in fatigue; antibacterial, antidiuretic, liver-protective. Valerian is a leading OTC tranquilizer in Europe. Cats are said to be attracted to the scent of the root as they are to Catnip. Folklore says the root repels rats."

Incidentally, I kept a particularly high-strung friend doped up on this all through Europe, and it kept her culture-shock at bay while leaving her communicative and otherwise functional. Sometimes good as a last ditch effort against menstrual cramps, you'll get floppy if you take alot. Unlike most of the other herbal sedatives, it is counter-indicative for stomach and gas pains, especially for sufferers of chronic gastric problems such as irritable bowel syndrome.

Valerian root (Valeriana officinalis and V. dioica, both native to the temperate parts of Europe and Asia) is widely available as an herbal supplement; while it has no FDA-approved medicinal use, it is touted as a sleep aid and anticramping agent.

Medical studies have shown that it acts as a mild sedative/hypnotic and has anti-anxiety properties. Thus, it's often recommended to people suffering from mild insomnia or restless legs syndrome, because it's not nearly as "druggy", dangerous, or expensive as over-the-counter or prescription sleeping pills.

The typical dosage is 300-600 mg of the root extract in capsule form taken shortly before you go to bed. A useful dosage is hard to pin down because the quality, purity, and strength of the herb may vary widely between manufacturers. The active chemicals in valerian root seem to be valepotriates, sesquiterpenes and valeric acid. However, no long-term medical studies on the safety of the herb have been done in the U.S.

In my opionion, valerian smells dreadful. If you take it regularly, you will be imbued with its assy stink. Some people have found that valerian upsets their stomach, gives them diarrhea, or makes them groggy.

Valerian also acts as a dream enhancer for many people. While this may be a cool thing for many folks, it's not so good if the reason you've been having insomnia is because you keep having nightmares. Chances are good that while valerian will help you get to sleep initially, it will make your nightmares much worse and you won't get much rest.

Some people also seem to develop a tolerance for valerian and it stops working for them after a while.

If valerian doesn't work for you as a sleep aid, try taking 250-300 mg of magnesium along with 300-600 mg of calcium citrate with a full glass of water an hour before you go to bed. I've had good luck with this combination so far. If you have heart rhythm issues, though, check with your doctor first because the magnesium might cause you problems. Don't be surprised if the magnesium gives you a bit of diarrhea, but the calcium should buffer you against the effect.

For more reading: http://www.aafp.org/afp/20030415/1755.html

Va*le"ri*an (?), n. [LL. valeriana, perhaps from some person named Valerius, or fr. L. valere to be strong. powerful, on account of its medicinal virtues: cf. F. val'eriane.] Bot.

Any plant of the genus Valeriana. The root of the officinal valerian (V. officinalis) has a strong smell, and is much used in medicine as an antispasmodic.

Greek valerian Bot., a plant (Polemonium caeruleum) with blue or white flowers, and leaves resembling those of the officinal valerian.


© Webster 1913.

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