Sweet, restful sleep is the key to health. When we don’t get enough, our immune system weakens, our thinking processes slow, and we generally just feel cranky. Thankfully, the natural world has a few chemical-free remedies to help us get the ZZZZZs we need. Valerian (Latin: Valeriana officinalis L.) falls squarely into this category.A flowering grassland plant, Valerian has a long history of medicinal use. First identified as a sleep aid by ancient Greek physician Hippocrates, the plant was also favored by Roman Empire Physician Galen, who prescribed it as a remedy for insomnia. Recent medical studies appear to back what these early medical practitioners believed, by showing that Valerian may shorten the time it takes to fall asleep, thus helping the body achieve more restful slumber.
Sleep aside, Valerian offers a host of other benefits as well. According to Medieval English botanist Nicholas Culpeper, Valerian root ‘boiled with licorice, raisons [sic] and aniseed is good for those troubled with cough.’ (Believe it or not, Culpeper also claimed this partifular concoction was good for fighting of the plague.)
So there you have it, whether you’re fighting for sleep, fighting against a cold (or the plague), valerian is your root-based go-to. Use it to create a sleep-inducing herbal blend or simply brew it solo and get ready for some peace and quiet. Yawwwwn.