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Valerian is a plant with pink flowers. The root has been used to ease symptoms of anxiety and sleeplessness. Valerian has also been used to reduce hormone symptoms in women. It can be taken as a pill, powder, or extract. It can also be made into a tea or applied as a balm.


250 milligrams 2 to 3 times daily

What Research Shows

Likely Effective

  • Insomnia —likely to ease symptoms E1-E11

May Be Effective

  • Anxiety —may ease symptoms A1-A4
  • Menopause —may reduce hot flashes and ease symptoms of sleeplessness F1-F3
  • Menstrual cramps —may ease pain G1

May Not Be Effective

  • Dysmenorrhea —may not ease pain C1

Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.

Safety Notes

It is likely safe to use valerian on the skin and to take it in small doses for a short time. Not enough studies have been done to say whether it is safe to use for a long period. It is also not known whether it is safe to take by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.


Talk to your doctor about any supplements or therapy you would like to use. Some can interfere with treatment or make conditions worse, such as:

  • People taking medicine for diarrhea should talk to their doctor before taking valerian. It may interact with the medicine.
  • People taking pain, anxiety, or sleeping medicine should talk to their doctors before taking valerian. It may interact with the medicine.


A. Anxiety

A1. Miyasaka LS, Atallah AN, et al. Valerian for anxiety disorders. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2006;(4):CD004515.

A2. Chen JH, Chao YH, Lu SF, Shiung TF, Chao YF. The effectiveness of valerian acupressure on the sleep of ICU patients: a randomized clinical trial. Int J Nurs Stud. 2012 Aug;49(8):913-920.

A3. Gharib M, Samani LN, et al. The effect of valeric on anxiety severity in women undergoing hysterosalpingography. Glob J Health Sci. 2015 Apr 2;7(3):358-363.

A4. Savage K, Firth J, et al. GABA-modulating phytomedicines for anxiety: A systematic review of preclinical and clinical evidence. Phytother Res. 2018 Jan;32(1):3-18.

B. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

B1. Anheyer D, Lauche R, et al. Herbal medicines in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): A systematic review. Complement Ther Med. 2017 Feb;30:14-23.

C. Dysmenorrhea

C1. Pattanittum P, Kunyanone N, et al. Dietary supplements for dysmenorrhoea. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016 Mar 22;3:CD002124.


D1. Ahmadi M, Khalili H, et al. Effect of Valerian in Preventing Neuropsychiatric Adverse Effects of Efavirenz in HIV-Positive Patients: A Pilot Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial. Ann Pharmacother. 2017 Jun;51(6):457-464.

E. Insomnia

E1. Bent S, Padula A, et al. Valerian for sleep: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Med. 2006 Dec;119(12):1005-1012.

E2. Taibi DM, Landis CA, et al. A systematic review of valerian as a sleep aid: safe but not effective. Sleep Med Rev. 2007 Jun;11(3):209-230.

E3. Oxman AD, Flottorp S, et al. A televised, web-based randomised trial of an herbal remedy (valerian) for insomnia. PLoS One. 2007 Oct 17;2(10):e1040.

E4. Dimpfel W, Suter A. Sleep improving effects of a single dose administration of a valerian/hops fluid extract - a double blind, randomized, placebo-controlled sleep-EEG study in a parallel design using electrohypnograms. Eur J Med Res. 2008 May 26;13(5):200-204.

E5. Taibi DM, Vitiello MV, et al. A randomized clinical trial of valerian fails to improve self-reported, polysomnographic, and actigraphic sleep in older women with insomnia. Sleep Med. 2009 Mar;10(3):319-328.

E6. Fernández-San-Martín MI, Masa-Font R, et al. Effectiveness of Valerian on insomnia: a meta-analysis of randomized placebo-controlled trials. Sleep Med. 2010;11(6):505-511.

E7. Barton DL, Atherton PJ, et al. The use of Valeriana officinalis (Valerian) in improving sleep in patients who are undergoing treatment for cancer: a phase III randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study (NCCTG Trial, N01C5). J Support Oncol. 2011 Jan-Feb;9(1):24-31.

E8. Sarris J, Byrne GJ. A systematic review of insomnia and complementary medicine. Sleep Med Rev. 2011 Apr;15(2):99-106.

E9. Hu RF, Jiang XY, et al. Non-pharmacological interventions for sleep promotion in the intensive care unit. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015 Oct 6;(10):CD008808.

E10. Leach MJ, Page AT. Herbal medicine for insomnia: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Sleep Med Rev. 2015 Dec;24:1-12.

E11. Kim J, Lee SL, et al. Natural Products from Single Plants as Sleep Aids: A Systematic Review. J Med Food. 2018 May;21(5):433-444.

F. Menopause

F1. Taavoni S, Ekbatani N, et al. Effect of valerian on sleep quality in postmenopausal women: a randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial. Menopause. 2011; 18(9): 951-955.

F2. Taavoni S, Nazem Ekbatani N, et al. Valerian/lemon balm use for sleep disorders during menopause. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2013;19(4):193-196.

F3. Jenabi E, Shobeiri F, et al. The effect of Valerian on the severity and frequency of hot flashes: A triple-blind randomized clinical trial. Women Health. 2018;58(3):297-304.

G. Menstrual Cramps

G1. Mirabi P, Dolatian M, et al. Effects of valerian on the severity and systemic manifestations of dysmenorrhea. Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 2011;115(3):285-288.

H. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

H1. Pakseresht S, Boostani H, et al. Extract of valerian root (Valeriana officinalis L.) vs. placebo in treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder: a randomized double-blind study. J Complement Integr Med. 2011 Oct 11;8.

I. Restless Legs Syndrome

I1. Cuellar NG, Ratcliffe SJ. Does valerian improve sleepiness and symptom severity in people with restless legs syndrome? Altern Ther Health Med. 2009 Mar-Apr;15(2):22-28.

Last reviewed July 2019 by EBSCO NAT Review Board Eric Hurwitz, DC  Last Updated: 3/27/2020