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Medications and Drugs

Brand Names:

Generic Name: valerian (Pronunciation: vah LEH ree un)

What is valerian ()?

The use of valerian in cultural and traditional settings may differ from concepts accepted by current Western medicine. When considering the use of herbal supplements, consultation with a primary health care professional is advisable. Additionally, consultation with a practitioner trained in the uses of herbal/health supplements may be beneficial, and coordination of treatment among all health care providers involved may be advantageous.

Valerian is also known as Valeriana officinalis, radix valerianae, Indian valerian, red valerian, Belgian valerian, common valerian, fragrant valerian, garden valerian, all-heal, amantilla, setwall, setewale, capon's tail, heliotrope, and vandal root.

Valerian has been used in the management of anxiety; restlessness; insomnia; mental strain; lack of concentration; excitability; stress; headache; nervous stomach cramps; uterine spasticity; menopause; and pain, discomfort, and emotional distress that may occur with menstruation.

Valerian has not been evaluated by the FDA for safety, effectiveness, or purity. All potential risks and/or advantages of valerian may not be known. Additionally, there are no regulated manufacturing standards in place for these compounds. There have been instances where herbal/health supplements have been sold which were contaminated with toxic metals or other drugs. Herbal/health supplements should be purchased from a reliable source to minimize the risk of contamination.

Valerian may also have uses other than those listed in this product guide.

What are the possible side effects of valerian ()?

Although uncommon, allergic reactions to valerian have been reported. Stop taking valerian and seek emergency medical attention if you experience symptoms of a serious allergic reaction including difficulty breathing; closing of your throat; swelling of your lips, tongue, or face; or hives.

Other less serious side effects have been reported occasionally with the long-term use of valerian. Talk to your doctor if you develop:

  • headache,
  • excitability,
  • restlessness or uneasiness,
  • sleeplessness,
  • dilated pupils, or
  • irregular heartbeats or other heart problems.

Side effects other than those listed here may also occur. Talk to your doctor about any side effect that seems unusual or that is especially bothersome. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What is the most important information I should know about valerian ()?

Do not use valerian in a bath without first talking to your doctor if you have a skin injury, a skin illness, a fever, an infection, or heart problems. This could be dangerous and should occur only under the supervision of a doctor.

Use caution when driving, operating machinery, or performing other hazardous activities. Valerian may cause drowsiness and dizziness. If you experience drowsiness or dizziness, avoid these activities.

Before taking valerian, talk your doctor if you are taking muscle relaxants, other sleep or anxiety medicines, pain medicines, antidepressants, or other medicines that cause drowsiness. These drugs may increase drowsiness and dizziness while you are taking valerian.

Use alcohol cautiously while taking valerian. Alcohol may increase drowsiness when used with valerian.

Valerian has not been evaluated by the FDA for safety, effectiveness, or purity. All potential risks and/or advantages of valerian may not be known. Additionally, there are no regulated manufacturing standards in place for these compounds. There have been instances where herbal/health supplements have been sold which were contaminated with toxic metals or other drugs. Herbal/health supplements should be purchased from a reliable source to minimize the risk of contamination.

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Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

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