Does Valerian Root Effectively Treat Sleep Disorders?

By Fari Magdala

July 19, 2017

Valerian root supplements worked well for me when I had trouble sleeping years ago. Compared to prescription drugs, Valerian root was a welcome and effective alternative. My mother, who was a registered nurse, suggested it. I’ll never forget the first time I took it. I was shopping with my Mom at a mall. I took one pill and felt sleepy almost immediately.Whew, I was so glad I wasn’t driving! At the time, I was also suffering from stress. I hated shopping but soon felt peace and enjoyed myself.

What is Valerian Root?

The Valerian root plant grows in Europe, Asia, and South America. The details of why Valerian supplements work for sleep and anxiety disorders can’t fully be explained by researchers. From what researchers found, Valerian Root increases brain levels of a chemical known as gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) . GABA aids the body in achieving a calm state.

How Effective is Valerian Root in Treating Sleep Disorders?

According to The National Institute of health, Valerian Root was used as medicine in ancient Greek and Roman times. In the 2nd, 16th and 19th century, the herb was used to treat Insomnia, nervous disorders, and heart palpitations. During World War II, Valerian was effective when treating soldiers experiencing air raid stress.


Clinical trials have been done to evaluate the success rate of this herb. But according to researchers reports, outcomes were mixed.   One placebo-controlled study was done of a women suffering insomnia took 300 mg of Valerian root extract 30 minutes before her bedtime for two weeks. She didn’t feel a significant improvement in the quality of sleep. This is surprising to me considering the success I had. For me, within 30 days of taking 300 mg of  Valerian Root nightly, my sleep patterns returned to normal. I was grateful!


Anyway,  another study was done. In this study,  400 mg of Valerian root extract enhanced sleep considerably compared to placebo’s given to 128  volunteers. Healthy volunteers described notable improvements in how long it took to get to sleep, quality of sleep, and how many times subjects awakened during the night.


Another longer term clinical trial included 121 people with insomnia. When each participant took  600 mg of dried Valerian root, symptoms of insomnia decreased in comparison to the placebo after 28 days of evaluation.

One small study involving  36 patients with generalized anxiety disorder yielded good results. Each patient was given  50 mg of Valerian root extract three times a day for a period of four weeks. Their symptoms significantly reduced anxiety compared to placebo.


In my opinion, there’s not enough research being done on the effectiveness of Valerian root for treating anxiety and insomnia. I’d prefer hearing from all the people who have positive testimonials. But scientific research is needed. Although, I don’t think sciences is always accurate in proving the effectiveness of natural treatments. After all, I pay $22 for a one month supply of a supplement that truly helped me.


Since Valerian root has been proven to be effective for those with insomnia, anxiety and stress, it’s worth trying. My insomnia issues have long since been resolved. But I still keep a bottle of Valerian root in my medicine cabinet.