Does valerian help you sleep better? This is what science says
Many people rely on the properties of valerian to relax and sleep better. But does it really have these effects? Let’s see what science says about this medicinal herb.
Valerian is a perennial herbaceous plant native to Europe and some parts of Asia that has been used as a medicinal herb since ancient Greece. Hippocrates, considered the father of medicine, described its properties, and later the doctor and surgeon Galen prescribed it as a remedy for insomnia.
Although it is also used as a natural treatment for symptoms of anxiety, depression or menopause, the most widespread use of valerian is as a remedy for insomnia. In fact, it is one of the most widely used infusions to sleep well in Europe and the United States.
But, is it true that valerian helps you fall asleep and rest better? Valerian root, which is the part that is used medicinally, It has different compounds that can help you sleep and reduce anxiety, such as valerenic acid, isovaleric acid, and a variety of antioxidants.
Scientists aren’t entirely sure how valerian works to promote sleep, but the leading theory is that it increases levels of a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which is the chemical messenger that helps regulate nerve impulses. in the brain and nervous system.
In accordance with some scientific studies, Valerenic acid inhibits the breakdown of GABA in the brain, resulting in a sense of calm and tranquility. In addition, it also contains hesperidin and linarin, two antioxidants that they look like have sedative property to improve sleep.
Various investigations suggest that intake of valerian Staying asleep can improve the ability to fall asleep and get better quality sleep.
For example in a small study with people with sleeping difficulties, 89% of the participants felt an improvement taking valerian root extract, and in another investigation The time to fall asleep was reduced thanks to a supplement of 400 mg of valerian root.
Nevertheless, It must be taken into account that these are small studies based on the perception of the participants, not in objective parameters related to sleep quality, such as heart rate or brain activity. For this reason, the evidence that taking valerian helps you sleep is considered inconclusive by some health professionals.