Valeriana officinalis is a plant, commonly referred to as valerian. Traditionally, valerian roots are brewed for tea or eaten for relaxation and sedation purposes. Though valerian is one of the more popular sedative teas, current evidence suggests it is not very effective.
Valerian's primary usage is to soothe anxiety or make it easier to go to sleep.
Though scientific measurements of sleep quality showed no difference between people that supplemented valerian and people that supplemented a placebo, many participants anecdotally reported that their sleep was better when supplementing valerian. Valerian may also aid with menustral pain, since it is a spasmolytic.
Valerian is thought to enhance the signalling of one of the main sedative neurotransmitters, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA).
It is possible that valerian has relaxing properties independent of any actual improvements in sleep quality. High doses of valerian have been noted to cause mild sedation. Further research is needed to confirm valerian's true effects on sleep.