Valeriana officinalis

Valerian (botanical name Valeriana officinalis) is a perennially growing flowering plant that has its origin in several regions of Europe and Asia. Now, this plant has been acclimatized in the United States and is cultivated there too. There are more than 250 different varieties of this plant, but most of the medical applications as well as side effects of these species are more or less the same. According to available documents, people have been using valerian since about 500 years back in the form of a fragrance, while the therapeutic properties of this plant have also been known since several centuries. It is interesting to note that a section of people refer to this plant as a "heal all". The essential oil extracted from this wonder plant offers several health benefits and it has many different uses.

For several centuries, people have been extracting valerian essential oil by distilling the plant's roots. Various clinical studies have been undertaken during the last 30 years to ascertain the relaxing attributes of this essential oil.

Valerian essential oil has a base note alongside a warm, earthy, woody and balsamic aroma. As mentioned earlier, this essential oil is obtained by steam distilling the roots of Valerian officinalis. The color of valerian essential oil varies from olive green to olive brown and its character is very distinct, akin to the complexity of musk.

This perennial herb has small rhizomes and its feathery leaves are aromatic. Valerian produces minute white or pink blooms that blossom during the period between June and September end in the Northern Hemisphere. Native to Asia, valerian grows up to a height of 1.5 meters. Currently, this plant is also cultivated in places like Russia, Belgium, the Netherlands, Scandinavia, Britain, France, Germany, Hungary as well as China. Many people also refer to the plant as valerian root, common valerian and garden heliotrope.

Several products contain valerian essential oil as one of their main constituents. These products include aromatherapy products, soaps, massage oil, tonic, balms, toiletries, body creams, deodorants, body sprays, inhalants, perfumes ointments, face lotions, lotions, colognes, bath salts, air fresheners, skin car products, shampoos, hair care products, hair conditioners, detergents, household cleaning products, and aromatic candles.

It is worth mentioning here that some controversy exists regarding the efficiency of the valerian root or the valerian essential oil in treating specific condition. Nevertheless, people have been using these for the same conditions for several centuries and, hence, such experimental evidence support the health benefits offered by the Valeriana officinalis root as well as the essential oil extracted from it. In addition, the evidences of this herb's therapeutic properties collected by scientists too are not only noteworthy, but also very impressive.

The aptitude of valerian essential oil to induce sound and quality sleep is among the oldest as well as the most researched health benefits offered by it. This oil encloses several active components that synchronize the ideal discharge of hormones as well as balance the different cycles of the body to encourage thorough, restful and uninterrupted sleep. In fact, valerian root has specially been used by people for this purpose since very ancient times.

To some extent this particular aspect of valerian root is associated with the herb's earlier mentioned ability to treat sleep disorders. However, valerian essential oil is also used extensively to enhance mood and lessen fretfulness or anxiety. It is interesting to note that the mechanism of this essential oil that promotes healthy and sound sleep also aids in reducing the negative energy as well as the chemicals present in the body that are responsible for bringing on stress and anxiety. In fact, these hormones, called stress hormones, may prove to be harmful and risky, especially when they are released chronically inside the body. Hence, the use of valerian essential oil possesses the ability to set the right balance in your body and, at the same time, enhance peace and tranquility.

It has been established that valerian root and essential oil work to enhance the chemical GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid) present in the brain. GABA works to promote a relaxing effect when one is suffering from anxiety by controlling the nerve cells. This essential oil has a distinctive aroma, which is said to be effective in treating a variety of health conditions including anxiety, depression, emotional stress, neuralgia, seizures, mental strain, tension, restlessness and trauma, to mention a few.

Many people suffering from an upset stomach often depend on pharmaceutical formulations. However, you should know that in most cases natural solutions are best for treating gastrointestinal disorders. Valerian essential oil possesses the ability to ease an upset stomach quickly and, at the same time, brings on healthy movement of bowels as well as urination. These effects of valerian essential oil may be very useful in detoxifying the body and increasing the ability of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract to absorb nutrients from ingested food. In this way, valerian essential oil helps to improve our overall health.

Clinical trials have shown that valerian essential oil is directly associated with lower incidences of heart palpitations in some people. This essential oil encloses a number of volatile compounds that interact with oils and acids in the heart to encourage a further normal metabolic rate. At the same time, use of valerian essential oil helps to soothe the inconsistent performance of the cardiovascular system.

As far as maintaining the health of the skin is concerned, applying valerian essential oil internally or topically can be helpful. This essential oil possesses the ability to permeate the skin with a healthy combination of various protective oils that save the skin from developing wrinkles and it also works in the form of an antiviral barricade, thereby helping us to remain healthy.

The active elements in valerian roots that are effective for reducing anxiety and stress also facilitate the body to keep a check on its blood pressure. Elevated levels of blood pressure are also responsible for causing undesirable strain of our cardiovascular system as well as increase the risks of developing heart attacks and strokes. Internal consumption of valerian essential oil can help to reduce these hazards naturally.

While many people claim that there are several essential oils that have positive effect on our cognitive ability, for several centuries, people have valued valerian essential oil for its ability to boost the functioning of our brain. The use of valerian essential oil invigorates specific regions inside the brain and, at the same time, improves circulation by exciting the conduits that are responsible for ensuring that our brains are active and fresh. Throughout the world, students as well as elderly people consume valerian root with a view to enhance their academic performances and also to look after their memory. In addition, valerian root is also consumed to impede any cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer's' disease and dementia.

Valerian essential oil possesses relaxing properties and this is the reason why it is widely used for menstrual therapy and pregnancy. This oil has been used for this purpose for several years and still remains popular. It has the aptitude to lessen the acuteness of menstrual cramps as well as the distress associated with it. Therefore, this oil is very popular among women, especially who are prone to suffer from menstrual cramps.

General properties

  • analeptic
  • analgesic
  • anti-epileptic
  • antispasmodic
  • carminative
  • nervine
  • sedative
  • skin protection
  • stimulant
  • stomachic

Blends well with

General uses

  • Alzheimer's disease
  • anxiety
  • dementia
  • depression
  • heart attacks
  • heart palpitations
  • high blood pressure
  • insomnia
  • memory problems
  • menstrual cramps
  • mood
  • neuralgia
  • seizures
  • tension
  • upset stomach
  • wrinkles
  • stress
  • stroke


Use of this oil in excessive amounts may result in lethargy. You ought to always bear in mind that you should never use any essential oil orally unless you have been prescribed to do so. While applying valerian oil to your skin, you need to dilute it by adding suitable carrier oil.