If you’ve ever looked into natural ways to improve your sleep, you’ve probably noticed that one of the most common herbal remedies used for this purpose is valerian (Valeriana officinalis). In fact, it’s been prescribed for insomnia since the second century A.D., and its other therapeutic uses were even described by Hippocrates.1
One of the most popular ways to reap the potential health benefits of valerian is by brewing it into a cup of tea. Read on to learn more about the properties of this relaxing beverage and what you should keep in mind before including it in your diet plan.
What Is Valerian Tea?
Valerian tea is derived from the dried roots of the valerian plant.2 Also known as “nature’s valium,” valerian is a perennial herb that’s famous for its potent calming effect.3 It’s native to Europe and Asia, but is also cultivated in America and China, among other countries.4
Valerian grows up to 5 feet tall and has sweet-smelling flowers that are white, lavender or pink.5 Unlike its flowers, the roots of the valerian plant from which the tea is made have a distinctive earthy scent that many people find unpleasant.6 This odor is caused by its volatile oils and active compounds.7
Despite valerian root’s long history of use for medicinal applications, there is still no scientific agreement as to what specific compound is responsible for its sedative properties. Researchers suggest that its effects may be the result of the interaction between its chemical constituents.8
Health Benefits of Valerian Tea
The ability of valerian root tea to help promote sleep quality and quantity is perhaps its most valued health benefit. This herbal concoction is usually consumed by people with sleeping disorders such as insomnia, since its sedative effect makes it a great natural alternative to sleeping pills.9
According to studies, the valerenic acid from every sip of valerian tea may help increase your levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and inhibit its breakdown.10 GABA is an amino acid that plays a major role on the nerve impulses in your brain and nervous system.11 Low levels of it have been linked to anxiety and poor-quality sleep.12
Valerian tea may also help maintain high serotonin levels in your brain, which in turn helps improve your sleep by stabilizing your mood.13 Moreover, studies show that the extract of valerian root may help you fall asleep quicker and stay in deep sleep longer.14 In addition, a cup of valerian tea may provide the following benefits:
- Helps ease anxiety and stress — When consumed in adequate amounts, valerian tea may help decrease your stress levels and anxiety with its anxiolytic property.15
- Helps tone down hyperactivity — When combined with lemon balm, valerian extract may help reduce hyperactivity, as well as improve focus by up to 50 percent in children with very strong symptoms.16
- Helps ease menstrual symptoms — A study published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine shows that valerian extract may help relieve menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes and sleep disturbance.17
Valerian Tea Nutrition Facts
There isn't a lot of information available regarding the nutritional value of valerian root tea. However, research shows that there are more than 150 chemical constituents present in valerian root, most of which are physiologically active.21
A 2014 study published in the Journal of Food Science and Technology states that valerian contains 51.2 milligrams (mg) of total carotenoids and 44.87 mg of vitamin C.22 These compounds are just some of the beneficial attributes that you can receive when enjoying a cup of this herbal drink.
Valerian Tea Caffeine Content
Valerian tea contains zero caffeine,23 which makes it beneficial for promoting relaxation, relieving restlessness, and helping you sleep quicker and better.
How to Make a Cup of Freshly Brewed Valerian Root Tea
Valerian tea is very easy to prepare. Simply steep 1 teaspoon of valerian root in a cup of hot water. Let it steep for at least 10 minutes to make sure that its beneficial compounds are infused into the water.
If you find its flavor too bitter, you may opt to sweeten it with a bit of honey. Some people also prefer to mix valerian tea with other herbs, but you should avoid doing this if you’re not sure how a particular plant reacts with valerian root.24
How to Store Valerian Tea
As with other types of tea, valerian root tea also needs to be stored in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight in order to preserve its freshness. It’s best to store it in an airtight glass container to keep out moisture and dirt. Keep in mind that tea absorbs odors easily, so be sure to store your valerian root tea away from foods that have a strong aroma.25
Take Note of These Valerian Root Tea Side Effects
Valerian tea is generally considered safe. However, it is possible to experience side effects when drinking this herbal tea, as it contains a number of powerful compounds. Some of the adverse effects associated with valerian tea include:26,27
It’s still unclear whether valerian tea is safe for pregnant and/or breastfeeding women. To guarantee you and your baby’s safety, it’s best to avoid drinking it altogether. You should also avoid valerian tea if you drink alcohol, or take sleeping aids or antidepressants.28,29
Other Natural Ways to Improve Your Sleep
Aside from drinking valerian tea, you can improve the quality of your sleep by making sure that you go to bed early and wake up at a specific time every day. Setting a consistent schedule helps regulate your circadian clock, allowing you to fall asleep easily at night.
You should also create a pre-bedtime routine to help your mind and body relax before going to sleep. Turning off your electricity and keeping the temperature cool inside your room during bedtime may help you sleep more comfortably. For more natural techniques to get a good night’s sleep, read my article “Want a Good Night's Sleep? Then Never Do These Things Before Bed.”
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Valerian Tea
Q: Where can you buy valerian tea?
A: Valerian tea is available in groceries and online health food stores.
Q: How does valerian tea work?
A: Valerian tea’s mechanism of action potentially lies in the interaction of its multiple chemical constituents, which results in increased levels of GABA and serotonin. This promotes better sleep and a stable mood, making valerian tea useful for improving sleep quality, as well as alleviating anxiety, stress, hyperactivity and menstrual cramps.30
Q: Where does valerian tea come from?
A: Valerian tea is extracted from the brewed dried roots of the valerian herb.31
Source: mercola rss