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Valerian is a tall, graceful plant with pink, white or purple flowers that is native to the Americas. The dried root has been used for centuries as a sleep aid. It may also be effective as a muscle relaxant and to treat irritable bowel syndrome, menstrual cramps, digestive disorders due to anxiety and heightened levels of anxiety. Valerian root extract has been proven effective in treating insomnia in multiple studies.


What Valerian Does:

Valerian has been widely studied as a sleep aid, and to a lesser extent as an anxiety treatment. Scientists agree that valerian has a mild sedative effect, but are uncertain of the exact physiology that produces the effect. There is one interesting facet of the studies into valerian’s effectiveness as a sleep aid. When valerian was used as a single dose sedative to induce sleep it was far less effective than when it was taken in lower doses daily over the course of two weeks. In the latter case, participants in several studies reported steady improvement in falling asleep more easily as the study progressed.


Because valerian seems to become more effective with continued use, there may be a cumulative effect, or valerian may help in some way to fortify or resolve a nutritional lack in the body.


There is also suggestion that valerian may help relieve anxiety levels that disturb sleep patterns. This is borne out by subjective reports from participants in studies that measured anxiety levels during treatment with valerian.


Health Benefits of Valerian:

Valerian root extract has been used as a sedative for centuries. The recent studies that support this use also suggest that it may relieve anxiety that contributes to insomnia, and help reduce muscle tension.


In reality, this is a ‘chicken and the egg’ conundrum. People who have trouble sleeping often report high levels of stress and anxiety in their lives. Tense muscles and racing thoughts can contribute to difficulty sleeping. Reducing anxiety often also resolves the insomnia.


On the reverse side, the inability to fall asleep frequently produces anxiety, and disturbed sleep patterns and difficulty falling asleep contribute to irritability, tension and anxiety during the day.


Whether valerian is effective because it produces drowsiness and induces sleep, allowing the body to repair itself, or whether it’s effective because it reduces anxiety over time, making it easier to fall asleep, or whether it is a combination each compounding the other, valerian’s effectiveness is proven.


Possible Side Effects of Valerian

At recommended doses, valerian root extract has very few, mild and rare reported side effects. These include itchiness, gastro-intestinal disturbances, headaches and dizziness, but it should be noted that those taking placebos in the same studies reported similar side effects at the same or greater rates.


In one reported case of a massive overdose of valerian extract, the effects included dizziness, headache and drowsiness. There are also reports of rare ‘paradoxical effect’ when using valerian.



Valerian is often combined with other ingredients such as chamomile, hops and passionflower, all of which have been proven to help induce drowsiness and improve the quality of sleep. Because many of these ingredients can upset the stomach by reacting with stomach acids, we prefer Xtend-Life's natural products Neuro Natural Sleep formula to other natural sleep aids that we’ve tried. In addition to providing a formula that promotes healthy sleep using the most effective, safe ingredients available, Xtend-Life puts it all together in a tablet that is specially coated to be kind to your stomach lining.



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