2. CIVIC ENGAGEMENT, Civil Society, and Philanthropy in the USA, Romania and Mexico:
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ESCAPING TRANSYLVANIAN VAMPIRISM
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Valerian root benefit and side effects - Dosage, extract, does it help with sleep, does it reduce anxiety? Use for hot flashes and menopause, by Ray Sahelian, M.D.
September 22 2016
Valerian root is used in the traditional medicine of many cultures as a mild sedative and to aid the induction of sleep. It is a native plant both of Europe and North America. Valeriana officinalis is the species most commonly used in northern Europe. Valerian is not a potent sleep herb. For a good night's sleep, consider a product called Good Night Rx. It has a number of sedative herbs along with hops and valerian root extract (see below). Valerian root extract has less side effects than prescription sleep medications, but it is not as potent or consistent. Good Night Rx is more effective for sleep than valerian herb by itself.
Sleep problem help, sedative
Valerian has been tested many times for effectiveness in treating insomnia. Some studies have shown that it is helpful, while others do not show it to be effective. The jury is still out as to whether this herbal remedy is a good sleep inducer.
Complement Ther Clin Pract. Nov 2013. Valerian / lemon balm use for sleep disorders during menopause. 100 women aged 50-60 years who complained of sleep disorders were studied. Subjects were selected randomly in a sampling method utilizing two groups of 50 people (intervention group with valerian/lemon balm and placebo group). The Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index was administered pre and post-intervention. A significant difference was observed with reduced levels of sleep disorders amongst the experimental group when compared to the placebo group. Valerian/lemon balm may assist in reducing symptoms of sleep disorder during the menopause.
Stress, anxiety, other herbs that could be helpful
Valerian may be beneficial to health by reducing physiological reactivity during stressful situations and can be helpful in reducing anxiety. Passionflower, Tryptophan, Ashwagandha, Theanine, 5-HTP, GABA, theanine, and Kava are additional herbs and nutrients that helps calm nerves. Theanine supplement helps with relaxation and sleep.
Hot flash treatment
Iran J Pharm Res. 2013 Winter. The effects of valerian root on hot flashes in menopausal women. In this double blind clinical trial, 68 menopausal women with the chief complaint of hot flash were enrolled using sampling at hand and were randomly divided into drug and placebo groups. The women in the drug group were prescribed 255 mg Valerian capsules 3 times a day for 8 weeks. The women in the placebo group were prescribed identical capsules filled with starch. Then, severity and frequency of hot flashes were measured and recorded through questionnaires and information forms in three levels (2 weeks before, four and eight weeks after the treatment). The Severity of hot flashes revealed a meaningful statistical difference pre- and post- Valerian treatment (p <0.001) while this difference was not meaningful in the placebo group. Further, the comparison of the two groups regarding the severity of hot flash after the treatment showed a meaningful statistical difference. It also led to a reduction of hot flash frequencies 4 and 8 weeks after the treatment but this difference was not meaningful in drug like group. Valerian can be effective in treatment of menopausal hot flash and that it can be considered as a treatment of choice for reduction of hot flashes among the women who are reluctant to receive hormone therapy due to fear or any other reason. Availability over the counter, online, in stores Valerian can be drunk as a tea in the evening, however, it has an unpleasant taste. Valerian tea can be mixed with hops and chamomile teas. Countless valerian products are available with different dosages. Valerian is often standardized to its content of valerenic acid. There is considerable variation in the composition and content of valerian root products that are available in health food stores or on line..
Valerian root side effects
No major valerian side effects have yet been reported in the medical literature when valerian root has been ingested by itself.
Q. I was just wondering about recommended dosages and possible side effects. I’d like more info on that herb because it was at Dr Sahelian’s website that I discovered St John’s Wort shouldn’t be taken if you have macular degeneration, so it seems it’s good to know more about an herb before taking it.
What's in valerian root and how does it work?
The major constituents include sesquterpenoids, valepotriates, bornyl acetate and valerenic acid. Multiple compounds in valerian root have pharmacologic activity. Valerenic acid has been shown to inhibit enzyme-induced breakdown and the inhibition of reuptake of the inhibitory neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. Basically this means that the brain chemical GABA can last longer and lead to sedation. Valerenic acid, an active constituent of valerian root extract, stimulates chloride currents through GABA(A) receptors. Valerenic acid is a subunit specific allosteric modulator of GABA (A) receptors that most likely interacts with the loreclezole binding pocket.
Review and summary
Although some studies indicate that valerian root extract has a sleep inducing effect, other studies don't support this finding. My personal experience leads me to believe that valerian root is inconsistent and cannot be relied on by itself as a reliable sleep aid. There is more evidence to support the use of valerian root in the therapy of mild anxiety or stress. Valerian root is more consistently effective for sleep when combined with other herbs and supplements that have a sedative nature.
Valerian herb human research
The Fixed Combination of Valerian herb and Hops acts via a Central Adenosine Mechanism.
Planta Med. 2004.
The aim of the study was to demonstrate competition between caffeine and a fixed valerian herb / hop extract combination by the central adenosine mechanism. EEG was used to describe the action of caffeine on the central nervous system after oral administration (200 mg) in healthy volunteers. In addition to caffeine, the volunteers (16 in each group) received either placebo or verum (2 and 6 tablets containing the valerian herb / hop extract). The EEG responses were recorded every 30 min thereafter. The verum medication was capable of reducing (2 tablets) or inhibiting (6 tablets) the arousal induced by caffeine. This pharmacodynamic action was observed 60 minutes after oral administration, indicating not only competition between the antagonist caffeine and the partial agonist, i. e., the valerian/hop extract but also bio-availability of the compound(s) responsible for the agonistic action. In conclusion, the valerian/hop extract acts via a central adenosine mechanism which is possibly the reason for its sleep-inducing and -maintaining activity.
Valerian herb does not appear to reduce symptoms for patients with chronic insomnia in general practice using a series of randomised n-of-1 trials.
Complement Ther Med. 2003.
To investigate the effectiveness of valerian herb for the management of chronic insomnia in general practice. DESIGN: Valerian versus placebo in a series of n-of-1 trials, in Queensland, Australia. Of 42 enrolled patients, 24 (57%) had sufficient data for inclusion into the n-of-1 analysis. Response to valerian was fair for 23 (96%) participants evaluating their "energy level in the previous day" but poor or modest for all 24 (100%) participants' response to "total sleep time" and for 23 (96%) participants' response to "number of night awakenings" and "morning refreshment". As a group, the proportion of treatment successes ranged from 0.35 to 0.55 for the six elicited outcome sleep variables. There was no significant difference in the number, distribution or severity of side effects between valerian and placebo treatments. Valerian was not shown to be appreciably better than placebo in promoting sleep or sleep-related factors for any individual patient or for all patients as a group.
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