Valerian root, an herbal remedy for insomnia and anxiety, is generally considered to be relatively safe. However, there are a number of possible side effects that have been reported for valerian root. If you’re taking or considering taking valerian root, you should be aware of these possible side effects.
Valerian root’s primary effect is as a sedative. This is what makes it so popular as a sleeping aid; however, this can also lead to a number of side effects. Valerian root can cause drowsiness, meaning that it is not safe to take before operating heavy machinery or driving. Taking valerian root may also lead to feeling sluggish in the morning. On the opposite end of the spectrum, a small number of people have reported that insomnia can be a side effect of valerian root.
Other Side Effects of Valerian Root
Valerian root is known to have a number of other side effects, most of which are not very serious. The most common are headaches, stomachaches, nausea, and feelings of uneasiness or excitability. In a few cases, particularly those associated with long-term use, valerian root seems to lead to heart palpitations. It is also possible, although rare, that valerian root may cause an allergic reaction. Swelling, hives, and the throat closing up are all signs of a serious allergic reaction.
Interactions with medications
Valerian root may have interactions with a number of medications. Most of these are because valerian root is a sedative. It can therefore heighten the effects of depressants and lead to excessive drowsiness. For this reason, you should not take valerian root with alcohol, narcotics, muscle relaxants, antihistamines, sedatives, or anti-seizure drugs. Although the doses are relatively low in valerian root tea you should also watch your habits then.
Valerian root may also interact negatively with anesthetics. If you are taking any medication, particularly medication for allergies, cancer, or high cholesterol, you may want to talk to your doctor about possible interactions with valerian root.
How to Avoid Side Effects
The best way to avoid side effects is to observe general precautions about dosage. If you have never taken valerian root before, start with a small dosage and increase your dosage gradually. This way you can see how valerian root affects your body and decrease your dosage if you start noticing side effects.
Children and Pregnant Women
Some side effects seem to come from long-term use, so you may want to limit your use of valerian root to a few weeks. When you stop taking valerian root, it is usually best to taper off gradually rather than stopping suddenly. Children under three or women who are pregnant or nursing should not take valerian root at all.