Valerian, formally known as All heal Valeriana officinalis Valerianaceae Botanical Description

Дата канвертавання27.04.2016
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Valerian, formally known as All heal

Valeriana officinalis Valerianaceae

Botanical Description: Erect, herbaceous perennial. The stems are stout and usually unbranched, without hairs. Grows to at least I metre normally, with pinnate divided leaves and pink flowers in umbels. V. capensis is used in South Africa for hysteria and epilepsy, V. harwickii in China and Indonesia as an antispasmodic, V. uliginosa in North America for cramps and menopausal symptoms, and V. wallichi in India used as same as Valerian.

Part used Rhizomes and roots

Harvesting, cultivation and habitat: The roots of plants at least 2 years old are harvested in the autumn. It is native to Europe and Northern Asia and cultivated in Britain, Holland and Belgium. It will grow in damp shady woods, hedges, ditches, wet grassland, fens, dry grassland, scrub, woodlands and meadows. There are now thought to be 3 subspecies, differentiated by the variation in appearance; however, these are not easily distinguished and there are intermediate forms. It can easily be cultivated from seed (it will self seed readily in our climate) or by division of older plants in the spring or autumn.

History, Folklore, taste/energetics: Tastes bitter and camphorous, or deliciously earthy depending on your point of view. The smell (due to isovalerianic acid) is supposedly reminiscent of tom cats; cats are attracted to it by another component-an iridoid called actinidine. It is widely used in relaxing tea blends and to prepare apple flavourings for the food industry. In Ireland the IMB has designated it as a medical herb that can only be included in products licenced under the THMPD. It was known as All heal in the past, showing how valuable a plant ally it was felt to be. It is an incredible healing ally, even having a reputation for curing epilepsy. The name may be from valere the Latin to be healthy or valuable, or named after a Roman physician Valerius. It is variously described as a sedative or a stimulating nervine. It is wonderfully anxiolytic and brings the energy down from the head, helping to ground and earth anxiety, panic and whirling thoughts. It is rich in calcium and nourishes and calms the heart too. It would appear to help calm the entire nervous system and all the brains as well as relieving tension in all body systems. A definite nutritive tonic.

Constituents: 1% essential oil – contains bornyl acetate. Beta-caryophyllene, esters of borneol, and other alcohols, terpenes, valerionol, a sesquiterpene alcohol, Valepotriates, Volatile alkaloid, Methyl-2-pyrroyl ketone

Formerly its sedative action was thought to be due to the isovalepotriates and then due to valerianic acid; now it is thought that it is due to a complex of several constituents.

  • Sedative

  • Mild anodyne

  • Hypnotic

  • Spasmolytic

  • Carminative

  • Hypotensive

  • Anxiolytic

Traditional and current uses:

  • Hysterical states, panic attacks

  • Excitability and anxiety

  • Insomnia – improves sleep quality and duration, and encourages sleep to occur easily

  • Hypochondria

  • Cramps and muscles spasms. Relaxes over contracted muscles

  • Intestinal colic, spastic colon, IBS

  • Rheumatic pain

  • High blood pressure

  • Palpitations and nervous sweating

  • Stage fright

  • Anxiety in menopause

  • Asthma

  • Period pain

  • Prolongs action of inhibitory neurotransmitters. So reduces excessive nervous activity

  • Migraine and nervous headaches

  • Neuralgia

  • Nervous indigestion

  • Fevers

  • All stress related conditions

Although it is apparently only to be used as a medicine one of my students made amazing scones with a small amount of valerian combined with elderflower and elderberries as the flavourings. It has also been used to manufacture apple flavourings for the food industry.

Red valerian, Wall valerian Centranthus rubber

This plant is a native of the Mediterranean, a garden escape that is widely naturalized; the flowers may be red, pink or white. It is highly tolerant of alkaline conditions and therefore colonises walls. Both the roots and leaves are edible (better harvested before flowering). The leaves can be eaten raw or cooked and the roots are cooked. Some authors caution about quantities eaten. It has a reputation as a mild sedative.

Lamb’s lettuce, Cornsalad Valerianella locusta

Italian Cornsalad Valerianella eriocarpa

The former is native and both species are widely grown as a salad vegetable. Containing high levels of vitamin A, slightly laxative and demulcent it is also a medicinal vegetable. Traditionally valued for convalescence, for balancing the metabolism, boosting the immune system, relieving rheumatism and as a diuretic.

Spikenard Nardostachys jatamansi is a related species native to India from which an essential oil is distilled. It is used in India as a nervine and is a valuable oil for treating nervous conditions and for the condition of the skin

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