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A more mild option, especially if you haven't tried valerian before, is to use the leaves in a sleepy time tea. (The leaves aren't as potent or smelly as the root.)
... harvest some root and lots of leaves.
For valerian tea, include lemon balm and passionflower. Both are also sleep aids, and together they taste more appealing than valerian alone. Hops is another good addition.
There does appear to be some support for the belief that valerian is an effective treatment for insomnia. It isn't a knockout herb that will have you snoring in 15 minutes. It takes from 30 minutes to 2 hours to feel the effects, which exhibit as a relaxed, drowsy feeling.
Valerian has been used to treat the following conditions, but at this writing there isn't enough evidence for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services or the National Institutes of Health to rate its effectiveness:
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)
Hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
*Valerian is generally considered safe, but taking it is contraindicated if you are pregnant or nursing. It may be habit forming and should be used for brief periods only. The upper limit seems to be 25 days or so for adults, but verify that with the latest research, please. It is not recommended for very young children, and may cause drug interactions with alcohol, Alprazolam (Xanax) and any number of sedative medications. Valerian should not be taken within two weeks of surgery as it may interact with anesthetics and other medicines. Valerian may also react with drugs that are changed in the liver.
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