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Valeriana officinalis

Valeriana officinalis, also known as valerian, is an herbal tea and supplement. It is commonly used for its sedative and anxiety-reducing effects.

Our evidence-based analysis on valeriana officinalis features 78 unique references to scientific papers.

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Summary of Valeriana officinalis

Primary information, health benefits, side effects, usage, and other important details

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.

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How to Take

Recommended dosage, active amounts, other details

A standard dose of valerian is 450mg. Daytime supplementation should consist of 2 to 3 doses of 300mg.

Valerian supplements consist of the root, which is standardized to contain 0.8-1% valerenic acid.

Valerian should be taken an hour before bed. If valerian is being supplemented during the daytime, it should be taken with meals.

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Human Effect Matrix

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The Human Effect Matrix summarizes human studies to tell you what effects Valeriana officinalis has on your body, how much evidence there is, and how strong these effects are.

Full details are available to Examine members.
Grade Level of Evidence
Robust research conducted with repeated double-blind clinical trials
Multiple studies where at least two are double-blind and placebo controlled
Single double-blind study or multiple cohort studies
Uncontrolled or observational studies only
Level of Evidence
? The amount of high quality evidence. The more evidence, the more we can trust the results.
Outcome Magnitude of effect
? The direction and size of the supplement's impact on each outcome. Some supplements can have an increasing effect, others have a decreasing effect, and others have no effect.
Consistency of research results
? Scientific research does not always agree. HIGH or VERY HIGH means that most of the scientific research agrees.
grade-b - Very High See all 3 studies
There are isolated cases of minor reductions in the time taken to fall asleep (improvements in sleep latency), but the majority of the evidence and the only meta-analysis to date suggest no significant influence of valerian.
grade-b - Very High See all 4 studies
At least according to an overall meta-analysis on the topic, valerian does not appear to be much greater than placebo for aiding sleep in otherwise healthy persons. This may differ in persons with insomnia but that is not yet tested adequately
grade-c Minor - See study
One study assessing valerian in persons with cancer on chemotherapy (of which insomnia may be a side effect of chemotherapy) found reductions in sleep disturbances which manifested as less fatigue during the day; no other evidence at this point in time.
grade-c Minor Moderate See 2 studies
Mixed evidence, with benefit to insomnia in menopausal women yet no apparent benefit in those with restless leg syndrome. Overall, a lack of evidence to conclude efficacy for this particular disorder.
grade-c Minor Very High See 2 studies
Abdominal pain associated with menstruation appears to be reduced relative to placebo in women who complained of above average levels of pain during their menstrual cycles. Another study found a notable reduction in PMS symptoms broadly, though much more research is needed to confirm this.
grade-c Minor - See study
Menstrual pain appears to be reduced with supplementation of low dose valerian extracts.
grade-c Minor Very High See 2 studies
Doses above 750mg may be associated with the 'morning hangover' side effect (sleepiness upon waking) whereas lower doses of 400mg have not been associated with such.
grade-c Minor Very High See 2 studies
Limited evidence suggests efficacy in the treatment of menopausal symptoms with valerian extract, with one study measuring benefits to hot flash frequency and the other insomniac symptoms.
grade-c Minor - See study
The lone study assessing the effects of valerian and OCD found a benefit with treatment relative to placebo.
grade-c Minor Moderate See 2 studies
There may be benefits to restless leg syndrome, although this was found only in persons with excessive daytime sleepiness; over the whole group, there was no significant benefit.
grade-c - - See study
Valerian does not appear to be effective for the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder in the one study assessing its effects.

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Things to Note

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  • Abnormally high doses of valerian at night time have been associated with a hangover-like effect the next morning

  • Valerian taken in the middle of the day may cause drowsiness

Click here to see all 78 references.