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Valerian is an herb that people have used for centuries for sleep problems, migraines, fatigue, and stomach cramps. It comes from the root of the valerian plant, found in areas of North America, Europe, and Asia.
Valerian is available in many forms. These include valerian tea, dietary supplements, and liquid or powder extracts.
Some people use valerian for anxiety, depression, headaches, menopause symptoms, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), or sleep problems. But so far there isn't clear proof from science that taking valerian helps with these or other health problems.
Side effects from valerian are rare but can include mild headache or stomach upset, abnormal heartbeats, insomnia, and (less commonly) liver damage. If you are taking valerian, you shouldn't drink alcohol or take sedatives. You also should not take valerian if you will be driving or need to be alert.
The Natural and Non-Prescription Health Products Directorate (NNHPD), within the Health Products and Food Branch of Health Canada, regulates natural health products in Canada. Natural health products, including valerian, must be reviewed and approved by the NNHPD before they can be sold in Canada.
Always tell your doctor if you are using a natural health product or if you are thinking about combining a natural health product with your conventional medical treatment. It may not be safe to forgo your conventional medical treatment and rely only on a natural health product. This is especially important if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
When using natural health products, keep in mind the following:
Current as of: September 8, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
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