Valerian (Valeriana officinalis L.) may be a safe and effective herbal sleep aid; however quality control issues may affect outcomes, according to the findings of a recently published systematic review and meta-analysis.

While valerian is considered a popular herbal supplement for managing sleep disorders, study outcomes related to its effectiveness have been inconsistent. This review, which included a total of 60 studies (n=6894), aimed to determine the reason for this inconsistency as well as to provide an overview of the role of valerian for other disorders associated with sleep problems.

Meta-analyses were performed to assess the efficacy of valerian on improving subjective sleep quality (10 studies, n=1065), as well as to evaluate its role in reducing anxiety (8 studies, n=535). “Repeated treatments with the whole root/rhizome consistently promoted sleep quality at 450-1410mg per day for 4-8 weeks, whereas valerian extracts 300-600mg per day for 5 days-4 weeks resulted in inconsistent outcomes,” the study authors reported.

In their review, the authors found that the variability in the quality of valerian extracts was dependent on the extraction solvents utilized during the study. Additionally, findings revealed limited information on storage conditions, such as temperature and storage duration, used during each study.  “The absence of such information limits the discussion as to why some extracts were ineffective while others exhibited effectiveness in those clinical trials,” the authors noted.


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As for safety, findings revealed no severe adverse events with valerian intake in patients 7 to 80 years old. Valerian was also not observed to have a significant impact on cytochrome (CYP) P1A2, 2D6, 2E1, or 3A4/5.

Based on their findings, the authors concluded that revisions to quality control processes for valerian were needed; however, for the time being, “the usage of whole herbal substances (root/rhizome), rather than extracts, may be the way to obtain optimal efficacy.”

Reference

  1. Shinjyo N, Waddell G, Green J. Valerian Root in Treating Sleep Problems and Associated Disorders; A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Journal of Evidence-Based Integrative Medicine. 2020;25(1-31). DOI: 10.1177/2515690X20967323.

This article originally appeared on MPR