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Valerian - Valeriana officinalis

A perennial herb with a hollow, erect stem, growing up to 1.5 metres high, with purplish-white flowers and deeply dissected dark leaves. The short, thick, greyish roots show largely above the ground and have a strong odour (which cats apparently like)!

Known as ‘Nature’s Tranquiliser’, Valerian is a calming nervine and depressant of the central nervous system, which contains valerinic acid and valepotriates - a complex group of chemicals which are only present in the dried plant material, and which show anti-tumour activity.

Valerian has been highly esteemed since medieval times, when it was commonly referred to as ‘all heal’. It can be used to reduce high blood pressure, and being anti-bacterial, it also helps clear gas from the digestive tract, and eases spasmodic cramps.

Drink Valerian tea for nervous irritability, tension headaches, and menopausal problems, or to relieve bronchial spasms and smoker’s cough. A strong maceration of the root can be used in the bath as an exhaustion remedy.

The oil is used on the Continent to remedy cholera, epilepsy, and skin complaints, and in China its uses include the treatment of colds, menstrual problems, bruises, backaches, and sores.

Used to flavour tobacco, root beer, liqueurs and in apple flavourings.

! Can cause drowiness. Do not take valerian if already taking sleep-inducing drugs !


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