6 Benefits of Valerian Root (Plus How To Make Valerian Tincture And Tea)

Heather Dessinger

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Valerian Root Benefits And Uses

When the Latin word for an herb – valere –  literally translates as “to be well,” it kind of grabs your attention, right? For thousands of years, valerian root (valere in Latin) has been relied upon to support emotional well-being, healing sleep, muscle relaxation, stress relief and more.

In fact, during World War II, England’s Vegetable Drug Committee listed valerian root (Valeriana officinalis) as one of the most essential plants for collection because it was so helpful for relieving stress from air raids. (1) (2)

Valerian root and flowers

What is Valerian Root? ^

Valerian is a lace-like flowering herb that is native to Asia and Europe, but was brought to North America for therapeutic use.

Although its sweet smelling flowers have sometimes been used for perfume making, the roots and rhizome (underground stalk) are the parts that are used therapeutically. They’re not used for perfume, though, because they smell a little like sweaty socks.

As you can imagine, that’s not really a good thing in anyone’s book, so the popularity of valerian despite this downside speaks to how therapeutic it is.

Before we dive into the details,  I want to mention that none of these statements have been evaluated by the FDA, this article is not medical advice, and it is not meant to diagnose or treat any condition. As always, please talk with your healthcare provider about any herbs you are considering. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s take a look at the benefits.

6 Valerian Root Benefits ^

Valerian root contains several powerful bioactive compounds that have relaxing, sleep promoting, digestion supporting and other benefits.

The list of known beneficial compounds has been growing over the past few years so there may still be some that are still undiscovered, but here are the most significant ones we know of so far:

  • Sesquiterpenes of the volatile oils such as valerenic acid
  • Iridoids such as valepotriates
  • Alkaloids, which “are perhaps the most potent group of plant constituents that act upon the human body and mind” according to renowned herbalist David Hoffman. (3)
  • Linerin and lignan 4 (more on these later)
  • Free amino acids such as γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA), tyrosine, arginine, and glutamine  (4)

Together, these compounds work synergistically to calm the central nervous system, relax muscles, and more.  

1. Deeper, Longer Sleep ^

Research suggests that valerian may help with falling asleep, improving overall sleep quality, and increasing the amount of slow-wave sleep (deep sleep) that we get. (5)(6)

Valerenic acid – which is a component of valerian root – has a positive impact on GABA, which is one of the main sedative neurotransmitters. It’s associated with improved mood, a sense of calm and tranquility, improved sleep, help with PMS, and calm focus. (7) (8) (9) (10)

Low GABA levels have been associated with difficulty unwinding, becoming easily frustrated, feeling overwhelmed, and bowel issues. (11) The conversion of serotonin to melatonin, which is often called “The Sleep Hormone,” is dependent on GABA. (12)

Other supplements that may be helpful for supporting GABA are:

  • Magnesium is also helpful for activating GABA receptors, which increases our ability to utilize this relaxing neurotransmitter.
  • Passionflower
  • Lavender
  • Chamomile
  • L-theanine
  • Kava
  • Although not a supplement, fermented foods are also helpful for increasing GABA because they produce it in the gut as a byproduct of amino acid metabolization

Also, coffee lovers check this out: Coffee works by binding with adenosine receptors in the brain, which control the body’s sleeping and waking rhythms.

Adenosine is considered a “tiredness molecule” that lets us know when we need to rest, and coffee blocks it from being absorbed. A specific lignan – called Lignan 4 – in valerian root also binds with the same receptors, but has the opposite effect of coffee. (13)

Valerian also contains the antioxidant linarin, which appears to have calming and sleep-enhancing properties. (14)

2. Stress Support ^

Remember how I told you that England prioritized the cultivation of valerian during WWII? That’s because it’s thought to help with both psychological and physical stress in two ways:

Supporting GABA Levels

A stressful lifestyle, poor sleep, and other challenging experiences can cause us to burn through our GABA stores quickly. Ideally we’d get a break to replenish levels of this calming neurotransmitter before we encounter the next life challenge, but that doesn’t always happen.

Although we know valerian has a positive impact on GABA levels, we’re still figuring out exactly how it works. One theory is that it helps our bodies slow down the rate at which we break GABA down, thus helping us keep more of what we already have. (15)

Maintaining Serotonin & Norepinephrine

One study found that valerian reduced stress in mice by helping maintain serotonin and norepinephrine in two specific brain regions that are associated with fear and anxiousness – the hippocampus and amygdala. The presence of these two neurotransmitters helps to calm excessive activity in the hippocampus/amygdala. (16)

Another study (which was done by many of the same researchers) found that mice who were given valerian had reduced corticosterone levels, which is the mouse version of cortisol (often known as the “Stress Hormone). (17)

Of course, while sipping valerian tea – or taking it in tincture form – can be incredibly helpful during stressful times, there’s more we can do to increase our stress resilience. Here are some of my top tips:

  • Incorporate adaptogens, which are herbs that help the body adapt to stress
  • Focus on getting good quality sleep
  • Gentle exercise, such as walking or yoga

Click here for more ways to reboot your stress response.

Valerian Roots And Rhizomes

3. Muscle Relaxation ^

According to Aviva Romm, M.D., who is also a midwife and herbalist, valerian root “has been used for musculoskeletal tension for at least 2000 years.” (4)

David Hoffman, FNIMH, AHG, author of Medical Herbalism, agrees, calling it “a valuable muscle relaxant.”

Although there isn’t a lot of modern research available on this particular subject, one animal study did find that valerian extract relaxed skeletal muscles without negatively impacting endurance or neuromuscular tone.

4. May Support Focus, Memory & Learning ^

In one study done with elementary children, a combination of valerian and lemon balm supported focused attention, while another study done with mice showed a positive impact memory and learning. (17)(18)

More studies are needed to clarify the potential benefits of valerian on focus, memory and learning.

5. Easing Menstrual Cramps ^

Studies show that it works by relaxing the smooth muscles of the uterus,” making it an excellent herb or easing menstrual discomfort. (19)

In one such study, participants who received valerian root felt significantly better than participants who received a placebo.

Note: Cramp bark – either in tincture or capsule form – is sometimes recommended for use alongside valerian root to ease menstrual discomfort. (3) 

The two herbs are thought to work synergistically, meaning that they may have an exponentially more powerful effect when used together than either would separately. Herbal synergy is sometimes described as the 2+2=5 effect.

6. Easing Digestive Discomfort ^

Just like it works on the smooth muscle of the uterus, valerian is also thought to relax the smooth muscle of the colon. (19)

Herbalist David Hoffman classifies it as a carminative, or herb that helps with intestinal gas. Carminatives “are rich in volatile oils and, by their action, stimulate the peristalsis of the digestive system and relax the stomach, thereby supporting digestion and helping against gas in the digestive tract.” (3)

Choosing Between Valerian Tea, Tincture & Capsules ^

There are benefits to both approaches. I dive deeper into the different types of herbal preparations and their. benefits/drawbacks in this article, but here’s the short version:

Valerian Root Tincture Recipe + Benefits ^

When it comes to roots and berries, many of the beneficial compounds are better extracted by alcohol than water. That’s probably why most of the valerian root preparations in the studies above are alcohol-based extracts, which are commonly known as tinctures.

There is one component of valerian root – glutamine – that is better extracted by water than alcohol. Glutamine is a building block used to make GABA. There are several ways that valerian supports GABA signaling, and glutamine is just one of them.

In Medical Herbalism, David Hoffman writes that “To be effective, valerian must be used at a sufficiently high dosage.” He recommends a 1:5 tincture (this is a ratio of herb to alcohol) with the alcohol being at least 120 proof (60% alcohol).

Here’s how to make a 1:5 tincture.


  • 1 ounce dried valerian root (by weight)
  • 5 ounces of 120 proof or higher alcohol  (by volume)

To Make

  1. Add 1 ounce of dried valerian root (by weight) to a 16 ounce jar. Pour the alcohol over the valerian root, then cover the with a lid and shake it well. If desired, write the start date on the jar using a sticky note, label, or piece of tape – it makes keeping track of how long it’s been steeping easier.
  2. Place the jar in a dark, room temperature area. (I keep mine in a kitchen cabinet.) Let the mixture steep for 3-5 more weeks. Shake occasionally.
  3. When it’s ready, strain the mixture through a cheesecloth, making sure to squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Pour the tincture in a clean jar or dropper bottle and store it in a cool, dark area.

To Use

Hoffman recommends giving 1/2 to 1 teaspoon in a single dose, but says up to 2 teaspoons may be given at a time. According to a report from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the 1:5 tincture concentration is often used once to several times per day as needed. (21)

Valerian Tea Recipe + Benefits ^

Teas can be made more quickly, but as mentioned above certain beneficial compounds are not easily extracted with water. However, valerian root tea will have higher levels of glutamine, which is a building block of GABA.

Although many roots are boiled for 30-45 minutes to increase the extraction of precious compounds, with valerian we take a different approach in order to preserve its volatile oils.

Before you brew, one thing to know is that while very helpful for relaxation, valerian root is considered to have an unpleasant smell. I don’t mind it, but you may prefer it in tincture form.



Bring water to a light simmer (not a boil) and pour over the valerian root. Cover the container so that the volatile oils are retained. A small plate works well as a cover. Let the tea infuse for 30 minutes, then strain out the root and serve.

What about valerian root capsules?

Some valerian root capsules contain an extract of one or two “active constituents” rather than the whole root. Since valerian root has several known active constituents (and probably more that we have not yet discovered), I prefer to tinctures and teas that extract a wider range of constituents from the plant.

Some capsules do incorporate the whole root, but when herbs are taken as a capsule the body needs considerably more time to break down and assimilate the nutrients. If digestion is weak, sometimes not all the therapeutic properties will be absorbed.

So what’s the best extraction approach with valerian root? As I mentioned, there are benefits to both tincture and tea forms, so I’ve included recipes for both below.


Frequently Asked Questions ^

Below are answers to the most common questions I’ve received about valerian root (and other herb) over the years:

Is valerian root safe?

According to the Botanical Safety Handbook: 2nd Edition, valerian root is a Safety Class 1B herb. This category is described as:

“Herbs that can be safely consumed when used appropriately.

  • History of safe traditional use
  • No case reports of significant adverse events
    with high probability of causality
  • No significant adverse events in clinical trials
  • No identified concerns for use during pregnancy
    or lactation (There are split opinions on safety, see note below)
  • No innately toxic constituents
  • Toxicity associated with excessive use is not a
    basis for exclusion from this class
  • Minor or self-limiting side effects are not bases
    for exclusion from this class”

However, there are some things to keep in mind.

  • Vivid dreams are the most common side effect reported. (4)
  • “Caution is advised during use of barbiturates, bensodiazepines, and other sedative drugs,” because valerian may increase their effects. (20)
  • “Avoid taking large doses of valerian for an extended period of time; instead, use modest doses for just 2 to 3 weeks, with a week’s break before you begin taking the doses again.” (19)
  • Also, for a small percentage of the population, valerian root has a stimulating effect rather than a calming one. According to renowned herbalist Rosemary Gladstar:

The root is rich in isovalerenic  and velerenic acids, which give it powerful nerving properties. However, some people are unable to process these two acids, and for them, rather than being relaxing, the herb will agitate and over-stimulate. You’ll know the first time you try it. If you happen to be one of the people for whom valerian is contraindicated, not to worry. The fact that your body can’t convert the isovalerenic and valerenic acids doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you, only that valerian is not your cup of tea!” (19)

What about pregnancy and breastfeeding?

According to the Botanical Safety Handbook: 2nd Edition, “Animal studies and human case reports have indicated no adverse effects of relatively high doses (2.8g/kg) of valerian in pregnancy.”

However, although no studies have identified concerns for valerian during pregnancy, Aviva Romm classifies it as contraindicated in pregnancy due to the “lack of demonstrated safety and the mutagenic potential of valepotriates, although the actual valepotriate content of commercial products have been found to be extremely low.” (4)

I would err on the side of caution and avoid it.

Regarding breastfeeding, “No information on the safety of valerian during lactation was identified in the scientific or traditional literature. While this review did not identify any concerns for use while nursing, safety has not been conclusively established.” (20)

Can children take valerian root?

When my kids find it difficult to wind down, I tend to opt for milder herbs like the ones in these bedtime tinctures or sweet dreams tea.

That said, one of the studies on focus mentioned above specifically looked at the benefits of valerian for school-age children, and valerian is generally considered safe for kids over 1 when used in age-appropriate amounts.

I like Herbs for Kids Super Calm, which incorporates valerian root with milder herbs and is specifically intended for children. They include dosage information based on age/weight on the bottle.

According to renowned herbalist Rosemary Gladstar, valerian root “is a nonaddictive, non-habit-forming sedative, and it will not make you sleepy or groggy unless really large amounts are consumed. So don’t be afraid to take adequate amounts of valerian.

Begin with a low dosage and increase it until you feel its relaxing effects. You’ll know you’ve taken too much if you have a ‘rubberlike’ feeling in the muscles – as if they were too relaxed – or a feeling of heaviness. If that’s the case, cut back the [amount] so that you feel relaxed but alert.” (21)

She recommends starting with 1/4 teaspoon of the tincture form, then taking a second dose in 30 minutes if needed. However, herbalist David Hoffman says it needs to be used at a “sufficiently high dosage” and recommends starting with 1/2-1 teaspoon.

For tea, the general recommendation is 2-3 grams (about 1 teaspoon) of dried, sifted herb per 8 ounces of water, taken one to several times daily. (4)

Can valerian root be taken long-term?

According to Rosemary Gladstar, it’s important to “Avoid taking large doses of valerian for an extended period of time; instead, use modest doses for just 2 to 3 weeks, with a week’s break before you begin taking the doses again.” (19)

However, according to the Mayo Clinic, “Valerian seems to be most effective after you take it regularly for two or more weeks,” so it seems like around two weeks may be the sweet spot.

Some experts recommend taking valerian for 2-3 weeks, followed by a break of the same duration. I take this approach and rotate valerian root with passionflower.

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Valerian Tea Recipe ^

This easy valerian tea recipe supports deep relaxation, restful sleep and more.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Steeping time 30 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Author Heather Dessinger



  • Bring water to a light simmer (not a boil) and pour over the valerian root.
  • Cover the container so that the volatile oils are retained and let the tea infuse for 30 minutes. A small plate works well as a cover.
  • Strain out the root and serve.


Although many roots are boiled for 30-45 minutes to increase the extraction of precious compounds, with valerian tea we take a different approach in order to preserve its volatile oils.

This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Scott Soerries, MD, Family Physician and Medical Director of SteadyMD. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.

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Sources for this article:

1. The Herbal Academy (2014) Sheltering With Valerian

2. Tibrewal, Nidhi et. al. (2013) Functional Identification of Valerena-1,10-diene Synthase, a Terpene Synthase Catalyzing a Unique Chemical Cascade in the Biosynthesis of Biologically Active Sesquiterpenes in Valeriana officinalis

3. Hoffman, David (2016) The Complete Herbs Sourcebook

4. Romm, Aviva (2009) Botanical Medicine for Women’s Health

5. Leathwood, PD et. al. (1982) Aqueous extract of valerian root (Valeriana officinalis L.) improves sleep quality in man

6. Donath, F et. al. (2000) Critical evaluation of the effect of valerian extract on sleep structure and sleep quality

7. Kapalka, George. (2009) Nutritional and Herbal Therapies for Children and Adolescents: A Handbook for Mental Health Clinicians (Practical Resources for the Mental Health Professional)

8. Swanson, CJ et. al. (2005) Metabotropic glutamate receptors as novel targets for anxiety and stress disorders

9. Cavadas, C. et. al. (1995) In vitro study on the interaction of Valeriana officinalis L. extracts and their amino acids on GABAA receptor in rat brain

10. WebMD. GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid)

11. Breus, Michael (2019) Three Amazing Benefits of GABA

12. Balemans, MG et. al. (1983) The influence of GABA on the synthesis of N-acetylserotonin, melatonin, O-acetyl-5-hydroxytryptophol and O-acetyl-5-methoxytryptophol in the pineal gland of the male Wistar rat

13. University of Bonn (2004) Relaxing with Lignan

14. Fernández, Sebastián et. al. (2004) Sedative and sleep-enhancing properties of linarin, a flavonoid-isolated from Valeriana officinalis

15. Wilson, Rose (2017) Does valerian root treat anxiety and insomnia?

16. Jung, HY et. al. (2015) Valerenic Acid Protects Against Physical and Psychological Stress by Reducing the Turnover of Serotonin and Norepinephrine in Mouse Hippocampus-Amygdala Region

17. Nam, SM et. al. (2013) Valeriana officinalis extract and its main component, valerenic acid, ameliorate D-galactose-induced reductions in memory, cell proliferation, and neuroblast differentiation by reducing corticosterone levels and lipid peroxidation

18. Gromball, J. (2014) Hyperactivity, concentration difficulties and impulsiveness improve during seven weeks’ treatment with valerian root and lemon balm extracts in primary school children

19. Gladstar, Rosemary (2012) Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs

20. Gardner, Zoe and McGuffin, Michael (2013) Botanical Safety Handbook: 2nd Edition

21. National Institutes of Health (2009) Valerian (Valeriana officinalis L.)

22. Mayo Clinic (2018) Valerian: A safe and effective herbal sleep aid?

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Heather is a holistic health educator, herbalist, DIYer, Lyme and mold warrior. Since founding Mommypotamus.com in 2009, Heather has been taking complicated health research and making it easy to understand. She shares tested natural recipes and herbal remedies with millions of naturally minded mamas around the world. 

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71 thoughts on “6 Benefits of Valerian Root (Plus How To Make Valerian Tincture And Tea)”

  1. Great post, Heather! I am a lover of valerian tinctures too. In fact, the first time I ever used them was when I had pregnancy insomnia during my first pregnancy and my midwife suggested valerian. It worked perfectly every time I needed it. From there I went on to use it with my kids for sleeping, and again it works great for them as well.

    However, there are a couple cautions with valerian that I wanted to point out. I didn’t know these at first, but I learned them after more study.

    First, valerian is considered a sedative herb, but in some people (very few – less than 10%) it has the OPPOSITE reaction and will stimulate instead of sedate. It’s best to try a half dose of the herb before taking a full dose to see if you feel any stimulating effects from it. If not, it should be fine to take a full dose.

    Next, valerian is cautioned among people taking sedative medications because it can add to those meds, sedating the person more.

    Again, I love valerian, and we don’t have any issues with it in our home. It’s a good one to always have on hand for sure. Thanks for the great post!

    • Hey Meagan! Thanks for reminding me to include a sentence about the potential stimulating effects of valerian. I’d planned to do that in the section on Class 1 Safety herbs just after the warning about combining valerian with sedatives. Interestingly, according to the Botanical Safety Handbook the risk of interaction is theoretical. To date, at least according to the guide, no actual interactions have been reported.

      So glad it has worked well for you and your family. I would love to know what other essential herbs you keep on hand. 🙂

      • hello.
        my son has a few issues with anger.
        he is ten and can often go from sweet to super angry within seconds.
        do you think this will help?
        thanks )0(
        love and light

        • I do that too. It has something to do with low blood sugar. I have to eat when that happens. Also have to not eat so many sweets. Hope that helps

        • Hi Karen, it sounds like your download may have experienced a glitch. What page were you on when you opted to download? I’ll check the file there and also send a copy to the email address you included with your comment 🙂

      • Hi. I noticed I need quite a large amount of valerian tincture to get relaxed. I feel over the 20 years I’ve used it I’ve built up some tolerance it seems. But the case is. Maybe I use it 10 times a year

        I usually buy my tinctures in reform shops. Here in Finland you pay a good amount for the strongest they have. I usually take 5 to 10 times more than recommended on the label. I take it only for sleeping.

        It gets a bit expensive that way but never had any issues or side effects. When I started I only needed little, but I just seen over the years my tolerance went up considerably. Do you happen to know similar cases?

      • No need to be rude, and yes, your comment was rude. I read the post and missed the dose as well. Salty posts like that discourage people from trying new things. Maybe you should double your dose.

    • Tinctures actually last years, I mean many years. They actually get better as long as you keep in air tight container and away from light and heat. If you make rather large jar, like the big pickle jar at the deli, it will never go bad as long as you do the above mentioned. I do suggest, if you make large jars of tinctures that you use daily, to take out with a ladle what you will need for a week or even a month and transfer into a smaller jar. This way you are not constantly opening your tincture exposing it to air. I get my information from Wise Women and Herbalist Susan Weeds writings. She is a great teacher and has lots of great info on websites and Facebook.

  2. Do you have any tips for disguising the taste? I made some and took it once and the taste was so awful and I can’t bring myself to take it again.

    • Try making it with brandy instead of vodka – works exactly the same but tastes a bit less bitter. You can also add a little hot water to the dose in a mug and let the alcohol evaporate – or what I do sometimes is add the dose to a small amount of juice and down it ? hope that helps x

    • I have been using Valerian tea bags fromTraditional Medicinals for the past several years. Valerian worked so well fro my insomnia I actually got used to the taste, or rather didn’t mind it, because I knew I would get a good restful sleep with no morning grogginess. But I also love the taste of black licorice and started brewing a bag of licorice tea with my valerian. Licorice tea smooths out the harshness of the valerian and adds a pleasant light sweetness without sugar. Just came across some whole root at the Mexican market that I’m going to try and I steep a bag of the licorice with it.

  3. I am an alcoholic. What are your suggestions as I cannot use the tincture? I have PTSD and regular sleep is very hard to get. I have been using capsules but do not have the right dosage.

    • I would go to your local herb store or even wholefoods, and buy the extract or capsules. Also, hops flower either on its own or used with valarian root works to not only fall asleep fast, but it relaxes the body into a deep restful sleep. Another thing you can do is take a sachet or even a sock and fill with dried hops flower, chamomile and lavender. You can put this by your pillow or in the case, and it will send you off to dreamland (works on most not all). The sachet may also calm your PTSD symptoms by inhaling a few deep breaths, but not too many or it may make you sleepy.

      • Also, you can try making the tincture the same way using olive oil, but I’m not sure if the results will be as effective. It’s worth a try.

    • Vegetable glycerine is also used to make non-alcohol tinctures. Tinctures made of vegetable glycerine have a shorter storage life, but a good alternative. Be sure to use very clean utensils because it’s easy to contaminate do to not having alcohol as a preservative.

    • “People who do not drink alcohol can make tinctures using warm (but not boiling) vinegar. Herbalists recommend wine or apple cider vinegar, not white vinegar. The directions are the same for alcoholic tinctures.”
      M. Castleman, (2003). The New Healing Herbs. Hinkler Books, Dingley, Victoria. pg 53.

      Hope this helps Kat 🙂

  4. Thanks for the great recipe. I’ve used valerian as a supplement for years with mixed results. Seems to work best when combined with melatonin, for me. I bought the essential oil & discovered it works well & fast when applied to soles of feet. Can’t wait to try the tincture!

      • A tincture is a herbal medicine made of plant parts and alcohol. The alcohol draws out the plant properties that water can not. You can use fresh or dried leaves, flowers and/or roots. I personally prefer fresh if I can. The alcohol can be any kind but vodka is used primarily. 100 proof is best because 80 doesn’t draw out the properties enough and over 100 will cause some of the plant property to deteriorate.

    • “When taken as a tincture, she recommends starting with 1/4 teaspoon, taking an additional dose after 30 minutes if needed. Another reputable source recommends 1/2-1 teaspoon, taken up to three times daily.”

    • A tincture is a herbal medicine made of plant parts and alcohol. The alcohol draws out the plant properties that water can not. You can use fresh or dried leaves, flowers and/or roots. I personally prefer fresh if I can. The alcohol can be any kind but vodka is used primarily. 100 proof is best because 80 doesn’t draw out the properties enough and over 100 will cause some of the plant property to deteriorate.

  5. My daughter has been experiencing chronic daily headaches, and we’ve not found the cause. This sounds like something I need to make, and (next spring!) to grow. Thanks for the informative post!

    • After determining the cause of the headaches, you might want to look into a feverfew tincture. My two daughters both got debilitating migraines. Feverfew tincture was the only thing that helped when taken at the first sign of onset.

  6. I keep VR tincture on hand also, but I cannot stand the bitter taste so I added a little mint to the tincture mix – nothing to lose. I like the chocolate mint best after all the trials and it doesn’t take but a few dried leaves to hide the bitterness and leave a light mint taste and smell. It doesn’t seem to alter the VR effectiveness and I like it much better. When I’m making tinctures, I put them on top of my hot water heater for warmth and cover with an orphan sock to ensure darkness. Masking tape on the sock lets me date each one.

  7. I have a mild mood disorder and when I tried Valerian for sleep it did have the opposite effect. I think it is possible that the 10% of people who have this stimulated effect may be on the bi polar spectrum as I am. I recommend Bachs Rescue Remedy in place of Valerian if you have a mood disorder. I can’t take anti depressants either because they make my symptoms worse so always looking for natural remedies. Any suggestions welcome.

    • Hi Kim! This might be a couple years too late, but I wanted to offer my own suggestion. I don’t have any diagnosed mood disorders and I don’t take any prescriptions, but I have tried Valerian also and got the opposite effect I wanted. It relaxes my husband and puts him to sleep quickly, but for me it only gives me anxiety and severe insomnia. I am not typically anxious, so it was a notable effect. I cannot take it at all, not even in small amounts or in tea. I have personally found St. John’s Wort to be effective for me. I have slept quite well since I started taking it and it doesn’t seem to give me any negative side effects. It says on one of the bottles that it’s good “for promoting a positive mood” so perhaps it’s something worth looking into.

  8. I was informed buy my herbals that valerian can be addictive over long periods of time….I suppose I’ll know in a few years time (I’m a Herbalist-and-Naturopath in training. 🙂 ). But some herbals say caution and some say it only occurs with certain individuals….anyone know anything definate?

    • I’m not an expert on this subject so I cannot give a definitive answer. However, the herbalists I know say it is non-habit forming, and The Botanical Safety Handbook makes no mention otherwise.

  9. Is there something other than alcohol that can be used for people who are sober. I would hate to give a recovered alcoholic something mixed with it

  10. Hi, is this better (as in much stronger, and much more effective) than using something like a store bought Valerian root supplement in capsule form?

    I’ve tried said forms of Valerian before and didn’t get much good from them to be honest….

  11. Can you add the valerian tincture mixture to a food or drink if you don’t want to take it straight? Will this make it less effective?

  12. So I made the easy way and it tastes like I did something wrong my daughter will not drink it I taste it it’s not fruity at all bitter mostly

  13. This works for all my herbs and roots
    1. I blend the herb to make a powder,
    2. put that in a canning jar with Everclear,
    3. shake it up occasionally for a couple days
    4. let it settle
    5. pour off the liquid through 3 coffee filters into a bowl
    6. put a fan on it for about a day, until it’s evaporated down
    7. (optional) add vegetable glycerin as a preservative
    8. put some in vegi caps, or dilute it in water to make an instant tea, or if you’re really hard-core, take it strait.

  14. As a now retired formulator of supplements and researcher (I have patented natural medicinal formulas), I have to mention this. Most clinical studies NIH being one of the best validated studies, finds the most important and active compound in Valerian root is the sesquiterpenoid valerenic acid, standardized to approximately .8%. I mention this because when you are making home brews and tinctures there is no way to accurately measure the amount of acid (if any) in the resulting product. You can have a million mg of valerian root and no active compounds of any sort, OR you could produce 100mg of valerian root with an excess of various medicinal active compounds. Just putting that out there. Personally, I love Valerian Root but rely only on standardized compounds with marked % of active ingredients.

    • Although I agree that there can be a time when standardized extracts are optimal, I generally prefer whole plant extracts because they often contain compounds that work synergistically together. For example, valepotriates, linerin and lignan 4 have all been found by subsequent research to have therapeutic benefits in addition to valerenic acid.

  15. Hi Heather,

    I’m 54 years of age and I’m breaking out with acne on my face. I get these big red bumps and the hurt. Any suggestions?

  16. Hi Heather,

    I have a couple questions. I have 2lbs of VR(accidentally ordered too much!)that I’ve had for a few years. It’s dried. Is it likely still good?

    Also I would like to try VR in tincture and tea as it seems like it could be helpful for a few reasons. I’d like to know, though, which method/dosage is recommended to use as a sleep aid? I’m a night Doula and have a little trouble sleeping more than 5hrs each day.

  17. Hi Heather,

    I know this is an old post but I have a question. I’ve suffered terrible insomnia for the past 30 years. The only things I found helpful were herbal tinctures: valerian, passionflower, hops and lemonbalm. It was breaking the bank and I’d like to stay away from alcohol because I’ve been overusing it to get to bed at night.

    Recently I purchased super-high concentrated extracts of the above in powder form. For some reason they aren’t working on me. I was wondering if you think adding lecithin to my nightly routine would make these extracts more bioavailable?


    • For insomnia I pretty much guarantee you will fall asleep with the following:
      1 x 1000mg or 2000mg Valerian Tablet (most dosages sold in the US are way too low)
      One quarter tablet of 100mg 5-HTP tablet (i.e. don’t buy capsules, you need the tablet). (buy a pill cutter)
      A few crumbs of a crushed 3mg melatonin tablet. Never take a whole 3mg tablet. One tab should last at least a week.
      Take together about 10 mins before lie down.
      Now with insomnia the other problem is adrenaline caused by fear of not sleeping. A simple solution to this is to lie on the couch and watch something unexciting on TV that has no adverts of loud sudden noises. Surprisingly difficult to find. I watch Tour De France stages that last about 4 hours on a continuous loop. (Rick Steins France is also pretty good) The key though is not to think about sleep. Just say to yourself you are going to lie down and relax.
      You will not cure chronic insomnia with just herbs. You need the seratonin/melatonin/GABA boost. If you really want to go next level you can also start taking ALCAR and NAC 3x per day 1000mg

  18. 5 stars
    Hi. I’m currently infusing some tincture using your recipe. What is the recommended dosage for an average adult to start? Would it be the same for daytime use vs. Night time/sleep? Also, my root came in really hard solid pieces that could not be ground. Should I adjust my infusing time? Thank you so much!