Common valerian

Common valerian

Common valerian

Specification & Spread

Rhizomes with valerian roots — rhizomata cum radicibus valerianae
Rhizomes with fresh valerian roots — rhizomata cum radicibus valerianae recentia
Common valerian herb — herba valerianae officinalis
Common valerian — Valeriana officinalis L.
Valerian family — Valerianaceae
Other names: setwell.

It is a perennial herbaceous plant with 50 cm to 2 m tall. In the first year of life, only a rosette of basal leaves is formed, and in the second year – flowering shoots.
The rhizome is short, conical, vertical, with numerous thin cord-shaped roots.
The stems are erect, hollow inside, ribbed, pale purple at the bottom.
The leaves are single-pinnate, lower – petiolate, upper – sessile. In the upper part of the stem is branched, bears corymbose-paniculate inflorescences.
The flowers are small, corolla white, pink or purple, funnel-shaped. Three stamens, one pistil with lower ovary.
The fruit is a brown achene with a tuft.

It blooms from late May to August, the fruits ripen in July – September.

Spreading. It grows practically throughout Russia. It is not suitable for harvesting, therefore it is cultivated in the middle lane in many specialized farms. The plantations get the best quality raw materials. The rhizomes from cultivated plants are larger twice as much.

Habitat. It grows in a variety of environmental conditions: on grass bogs and peatlands, lowlands, marshy, sometimes saline meadows, along rivers and lakes, in thickets of shrubs, along forest glades and edges. In the northern regions of valerian has more subtle roots, in the southern regions of rhizomes and roots are larger. It is cultivated on fertile, wet soils.


The chemical composition of valerian

About 100 individual substances are found in the raw material of valerian.
The rhizomes with roots contain from 0.5 to 2.4% of essential oil, the main part of which is borilizovalerianat,
as well as present:

  • free acid isovaleric and borneol,
  • bicyclic monoterpenoids (camphene, pinene, terpineol),
  • sesquiterpenoids (valerian, valerenone, valerenic acid),
  • valeric acid free.

The raw materials also contain:

  • iridoids – valepotriates (0.8-2.5%),
  • tannins,
  • triterpene saponins,
  • organic acids,
  • alkaloids,
  • free amines.

Harvesting and storage of raw materials

Rhizome with valerian roots

Harvesting. The harvesting of rhizomes with valerian roots should be carried out in late autumn (late September – mid-October), when the root mass gain is completed. It is allowed to harvest in early spring before the beginning of the growing season, but at the same time the quality and yield of raw materials are almost halved. The cleaning of the raw materials in farms is carried out with a special combine or potato digging machines. The rhizomes with roots are cleaned from the remnants of the aerial parts and the ground, thick rhizomes are cut along, quickly washed with water (not more than 20 minutes) and dried with active ventilation, spreading out a layer of 3-5 cm.

Security measures. When harvesting wild-growing raw materials after digging underground parts, the seeds from the plant are shaken in the same hole where the roots were, and covered with earth; in addition, all small plants and some of the large for growth are left at the gathering place. The stems with seeds are pruned, without damaging the rhizomes.
When harvesting, sometimes the similar plants are harvested. All impurities are easily recognized by the absence of «valerian» smell in dry raw materials.

Drying. The dried rhizomes with roots are dried in dryers at a temperature not higher than 35 °C. The dried roots should break, but not bend.

Storage. According to the rules of storage of essential oil raw materials, packed in bags and bales, it is stored in a dry cool place.

Valerian herb

Harvesting. The herb is cut during the period of budding and flowering, or before harvesting the rhizomes with roots, cut into pieces up to 20 cm in length and dried. Air-shadow drying or in dryers at a temperature not higher than 40 ºС. It is used as a raw material for the production of aqueous-alcoholic extract.

Rhizome with valerian Roots

Whole raw materials

Solid or cut along the rhizome up to 4 cm long, up to 3 cm thick, with a loose core, often hollow, with transverse partitions. Numerous thin adventitious roots, sometimes underground shoots – stolons, depart from all sides from the rhizome.
The roots are often separated from the rhizome; it is smooth, brittle, of various lengths, up to 3 mm thick.
The colour of the rhizome and roots outside is yellowish-brown, on the fracture – from yellowish to brown.
The smell is strong, fragrant.
The taste is spicy, sweetish, bitter.

Milled raw materials

The pieces of roots and rhizomes of various shapes, light brown in colour, passing through a sieve with openings with a diameter of 7 mm. The smell is strong, fragrant. The taste is spicy, sweetish, bitter.
Powder is greyish-brown color, passing through a sieve with holes of 0.2 mm. The smell is strong, fragrant. The taste is spicy, sweetish, bitter.

Valerian herb

The raw materials are leafy stems with corymbose-paniculate inflorescences up to 20 cm long and individual leaves, mostly crushed.
The stems are cylindrical, ribbed, hollow, with opposite single-pinnate leaves with 6-8 pairs of segments, slightly pubescent; the lower leaves are petiolate, the upper are sessile. The leaf segments are from linear-lanceolate to ovate, entire or serrated.
The corolla is funnel-shaped, the flowers are pale pink, small, gathered in a clump-paniculate inflorescence.
The colour of leaves from green to greenish-brown, stems from brownish-green to brown.
The smell is weak.

Properties and application

Pharmacotherapeutic group. Sedative agent.
The pharmacological properties of valerian

Valerian has a multifaceted effect on the body:

  • inhibits the central nervous system, lowers its excitability;
  • reduces spasms of smooth muscle organs.

Valerian essential oil eases cramps.

Valerian reduces arousal:

  • lengthens the action of hypnotics
  • has an inhibitory effect on the system of the medulla and medulla,
  • increases the functional mobility of cortical processes.
  • regulates the activity of the heart, acting indirectly through the central nervous system and directly on the muscle and the conducting system of the heart,
  • improves coronary circulation due to the direct action of borneol on the heart vessels.
  • enhances the secretion of the glandular apparatus of the gastrointestinal tract,
  • strengthens bile secretion.

Valerian is an example when the curative effect of the total extract from the plant, while isolated substances do not have the corresponding effect.

Application of valerian

Valerian preparation is used for various reasons:

  • as a sedative for chronic functional disorders of the central nervous system,
  • with neurosis, hysteria and other neurotic states;
  • with epilepsy, along with other medical measures, insomnia, migraine;
  • with neuroses of the heart and chronic impairment of the coronary circulation;
  • with hypertension;
  • to reduce the excitability of the cerebral cortex and reduce vegetative-vascular disorders;
  • with tachycardia caused by the neurotic state.

Valerian preparations are used:

  • with neurosis of the stomach, accompanied by pain of a spastic nature, constipation and flatulence,
  • in violation of the secretory function of the glandular apparatus of the gastrointestinal tract;
  • diseases of the liver and biliary tract in complex therapy;
  • with thyrotoxicosis with subjective s
    ymptoms (heat sensation, palpitations, etc.);
  • with climacteric disorders and a number of other diseases accompanied by sleep disturbance and increased irritability.

Valerian is more effective with systematic and long-term use due to the slow development of therapeutic action.
The infusion of valerian is used in the complex therapy of obesity as an anorectic agent. Suppressing the hypothalamic centers of appetite, valerian reduces hunger, suppresses appetite, and helps with the restriction of food.

As a rule, valerian preparations are well tolerated, but in some hypertensive patients they give the opposite stimulating effect, disrupt sleep, and cause severe dreams.
One of the components of the therapeutic effect of valerian is its smell, reflexively acting on the central nervous system. It is also possible inhalation (through the lungs) intake of therapeutic substances into the body.

Application of valerian herb

From valerian herb get water-alcohol extract, used in the manufacture of soft drinks.

Hypersensitivity to preparations of valerian.

Children’s age (up to 3 years). With caution during pregnancy and lactation.