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Valerian - does it work (the answer appears to be probably)

Valerian for sleep: a systematic review and meta-analysis 2006 - "The available evidence suggests that valerian might improve sleep quality without producing side effects. Future studies should assess a range of doses of standardized preparations of valerian and include standard measures of sleep quality and safety."

Valerian for sleep: a systematic review and meta-analysis 2010 - The AMED and MEDLINE databases were searched for primary sources of literature published between 1950 and 2009, using keywords: herbal medicine, medicinal plants, herbal, Valeriana officinalis, valerian, Humulus lupulus, hops, sleep, insomnia. Studies were included if they evaluated the efficacy of valerian or hops in improving primary insomnia in adults: sixteen studies met the inclusion criteria. Twelve of these found that the use of valerian, on its own, or in combination with hops, is associated with improvements in some sleep parameters (eg. sleep latency and quality of sleep). However, these results need to be interpreted cautiously as there were significant differences in design between the studies.

This says no benefit

On the other hand, side-effects with valerian would appear to be bland indeed. However, it's slow onset of effect (2-3 weeks) renders it unsuitable for short-term use (i.e. 'jet-lag'), but it does have profound beneficial effects on sleep architecture (augments deep sleep) that may make it particularly suitable for long-term use and for the elderly.

Valerian and melatonin are unregulated products that have a small impact on sleep latency and can produce residual sedation.

In conclusion, valerian could be a safe and effective herb to promote sleep and prevent associated disorders. However, due to the presence of multiple active constituents and relatively unstable nature of some of the active constituents, it may be necessary to revise the quality control processes, including standardization methods and shelf life.

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