Valeriana officinalis L. (sensu lato) (Valerianaceae)
Valeriana alternifolia Ledeb., Valeriana excelsa Poir., Valeriana sylvestris
All heal, akar pulepandak, amantilla, balderbrackenwurzel, baldrian, Baldrianwurzel,
cat’s love, cat’s valerian, fragrant valerian, garden heliotrope,
great wild valerian, ka-no-ko-so, Katzenwurzel, kesso root, kissokon, kuanyexiccao,
luj, nard, ntiv, racine de valeriane, St. George’s herb, setwall, txham
laaj, valerian fragrant, valerian, valeriana, valeriana extranjera, valeriana
rhizome, valeriane, vandal root, waliryana, wild valerian
A tall perennial herb whose underground portion consists of a vertical rhizome
bearing numerous rootlets and one or more stolons. The aerial portion consists
of a cylindrical hollow, channelled stem attaining 2m in height, branched in
the terminal region, bearing opposite exstipulate, pinnatisect, cauline leaves
with clasping petioles. The inflorescence consists of racemes of cymes whose
flowers are small, white, or pink. The fruits are oblong-ovate, 4-ridged, single-seeded
achenes. Valeriana officinalis (sensu lato) is an extremely polymorphous complex
of subspecies. The basic type is diploid, 2n = 14, (V. officinalis) and other
subspecies have very similar characteristics: V. officinalis ssp. collina (Wallr.)
Nyman (2n = 28) has leaves with 15–27 folioles, all of the same width,
and V. officinalis ssp. sambucifolia (Mikan f.) Celak, V. excelsa Poiret (2n
= 56) has leaves with 5– 9 folioles, with the apical one clearly larger
than the others. In contrast to the other subspecies, the rhizome of the lat
is clearly stoloniferous (epigenous and hypnogenous stolons). V. repens Host.
(equivalent to V. procurrens Wallr.) could be considered a fourth species, according
to the Flora Europaea. Often appended to this species are taxonomic groups of
uncertain status and limited distribution (e.g. V. salina Pleigel or V. versifolia
Plant material used
dried roots, rhizomes and stolons
Contains not less than 0.5% v/w of essential oil, quantitatively determined
by distillation. Content of individual constituents including valepotriates,
valerenic acids and valerenal, determined by high-performance liquid or gas–liquid
Major chemical constituents
The chemical composition of Radix Valerianae varies greatly depending on the
subspecies, variety, age of the plant, growing conditions, and type and age
of the extract. The volatile oil (ranges 0.2–2.8%) contains bornyl acetate
and bornyl isovalerate as the principal components. Other significant constituents
include β-caryophyllene, valeranone, valerenal, valerenic acid, and other
sesquiterpenoids and monoterpenes. The co-occurrence of three cyclopentane-sesquiterpenoids
(valerenic acid, acetoxyvalerenic acid, and valerenal) is confined to V. officinalis
and permits its distinction from V. edulis and V. wallichii. The various subspecies
of V. officinalis have different compositions of volatile oil and, for example,
average bornyl acetate content varies from 35% in V. officinalis ssp. pratensis
to 0.45% in V. officinalis ssp. illyrica.
A second important group of constituents (0.05–0.67% range) is a series
of non-glycosidic bicyclic iridoid monoterpene epoxy-esters known as the valepotriates.
The major valepotriates are valtrate and isovaltrate (which usually represent
more than 90% of the valepotriate content). Smaller amounts of dihydrovaltrate,
isovaleroxy-hydroxydihydrovaltrate, 1-acevaltrate or others are present. The
valepotriates are rather unstable owing to their epoxide structure, and losses
occur fairly rapidly on storage or processing, especially if the drug is not
carefully dried. Principal degradation products are baldrinal, homobaldrinal,
Internal use as the expressed juice, tincture, extracts, and other galenical
preparations. External use as a bath additive. Store in tightly closed containers,
in a cool dry place, protected from light
Uses supported by clinical data
As a mild sedative and sleep-promoting agent. The drug is often used as a milder
alternative or a possible substitute for stronger synthetic sedatives, such
as the benzodiazepines, in the treatment of states of nervous excitation and
anxiety-induced sleep disturbances.
Uses described in pharmacopoeias and well
As a digestive aid, and an adjuvant in spasmolytic states of smooth muscle and
gastrointestinal pains of nervous origin. When associated with papaverine, belladonna,
and other spasmolytics, Radix Valerianae has been shown to be useful as an adjuvant
in spastic states of smooth muscle such as spastic colitis.
Uses described in traditional medicine
Proven pharmacological activity
To treat epilepsy, gum sores, headaches, nausea, sluggish liver, urinary tract
disorders, vaginal yeast infections, and throat inflammations; and as an emmenagogue,
antiperspirant, antidote to poisons, diuretic, anodyne, and a decoction for
Sedative, Hypnotic, CNS depressant
Radix Valerianae should not be used during pregnancy or lactation.
No information available.
May cause drowsiness. Those affected should not drive or operate machinery.
Although no interaction between valerian and alcohol has been demonstrated clinically,
as a precautionary measure patients should avoid consuming alcoholic beverages
or other sedatives in conjunction with Radix Valerianae
Carcinogenesis, mutagenesis, impairment of fertility
Some concern has been expressed over the cytotoxicity of the valepotriates.
Cytotoxicity has been demonstrated in vitro but not in vivo, even in doses of
1350mg/kg. Some of the valepotriates demonstrate alkylating activity in vitro.
However, because the compounds decompose rapidly in the stored drug, there is
no cause for concern. The valepotriates are also poorly absorbed and are rapidly
metabolized to the baldrinals, which have better sedating effects. In vitro,
the baldrinals are less toxic than the valepotriates, but in vivo they are more
cytotoxic because they are more readily absorbed by the intestine. Baldrinals
have been detected at levels up to 0.988mg/dose in commercial preparations standardized
with respect to the concentration of valepotriates and may be of cytotoxic concern.
Pregnancy: teratogenic effects
Prolonged oral administration of valepotriates did not produce any teratogenic
Pregnancy: non-teratogenic effects
The safety of Radix Valerianae during pregnancy has not been established; therefore
it should not be administered during pregnancy.
Excretion of Radix Valerianae into breast milk and its effects on the newborn
infant have not been established; therefore it should not be administered during
Radix Valerianae preparations should not be used for children less than 12 years
of age without medical supervision.
No information on general precautions or drug interactions or drug and laboratory
test interactions was found.
Minor side-effects have been associated with chronic use of Radix Valerianae
and include headaches, excitability, uneasiness, and insomnia. Very large doses
may cause bradycardia and arrhythmias, and decrease intestinal motility. The
recommended first aid is gastric lavage, charcoal powder, and sodium sulfate.
Doses up to 20 times the recommended therapeutic dose have been reported to
cause only mild symptoms which resolved within 24 h (38). Four cases of liver
damage have been associated with use of preparations containingRadix Valerianae.
However, in all cases the patients were taking a combination herbal product
containing four different plant species and thus a causal relationship to the
intake of valerian is extremely doubtful.
Dried root and rhizome, 2–3g drug per cup by oral infusion, 1–5
times per day, up to a total of 10 g and preparations correspondingly. Tincture
(1 :5, 70% ethanol), 0.5–1 teaspoon (1–3ml), once to several times
a day. External use, 100 g drug for a full bath