Valerian root is used by many for treating insomnia, easing the symptoms of anxiety and alleviating nervous restlessness, some of the symptoms commonly associated with Opiate withdrawal. Due to the effects it produces, it can be incorporated in the Opiate withdrawal regimen too. How well does it help in Opiate withdrawal, this is yet to be identified.
This article will be covering general details about Valerian root first, and then its specific effects that are produced during the Opiate withdrawal phase to ease the symptoms.
What is Valerian Root?
Valeriana officinalis or Valerian root is an herb that is used as a medicine. It is a perennial plant that has scented flowers that bloom in the summers. It is grown in Europe and Asia. It is also known as garden valerian, garden heliotrope, and all-heal. The extract of the Valerian is sold as a dietary supplement. Valine, the amino acid is named after Valerian root. It contains volatile oils such as valerenic acid, sesquiterpenes, and valepotriates. These have a calming effect on the central nervous system.
What are the uses of Valerian root?
Valerian root is used for insomnia and other sleep disorders. It causes significant drowsiness without causing tolerance like the natural sleeping pills cause. Valerian is also an important herb for the treatment of anxiety, mild tremors, epileptic fits, abdominal cramps, menstrual cramps, hot flashes associated with menopause, etc. It has also been used for alleviating joint pain, chronic fatigue syndrome, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, migraine, headaches, asthma, etc.
The oil extract from the Valerian plant is used as a flavoring agent in foods and beverages.
Does Valerian root help in Opiate withdrawal?
Valerian root has a significant role in Opiate withdrawal. It is taken by many to ease the symptoms of Opiate withdrawal. With an opiate withdrawal, one has to suffer from severe insomnia which further worsens the condition of the patient. Valerian root is a natural aid for sleep. It does not result in morning drowsiness.
It can be combined with other herbs like hops and lemon balm to assist in treating insomnia.
It causes sedation by increasing the levels of GABA in the brain which happens to be an inhibitory neurotransmitter. It also prevents the uptake of GABA back into cells, giving a sustained action of GABA.
Similarly, another Opiate withdrawal symptoms, i.e., anxiety can also be alleviated by taking Valerian root extract. The anxiolytic effect is achieved as GABA levels are increased by the Valerian root. Drugs like benzodiazepines also increase the levels of GABA, but they cause tolerance and dependence. Valerian root contains valerenic acid and valerenol which act as anti-anxiety agents.
Valerian root also helps in reducing the blood pressure which is elevated during the Opiate withdrawal period due to derangements in the homeostatic mechanisms of the body. It helps in lowering your heart rate back to normal.
Valerian root also reduces muscle cramps associated with Opiate withdrawal. The muscles are relaxed, and the person does not feel fatigued or tired. The mechanism of this effect is that Valerian root is a muscle relaxant. It relieves the spastic condition of the muscles. It calms the nervous system and relaxes the muscles.
This root is also known to act as an anti-depressant. It helps in the management of stress by assisting in the release of dopamine and serotonin. These neurotransmitters are responsible for increasing the ability of a person to cope with stress by stimulating the pleasure center of the brain. Valerian root also helps with headaches and tremors which are the symptoms of Opiate withdrawal.
How to use Valerian root for Opiate withdrawal?
To treat Opiate withdrawal symptoms, start by taking a dose of 400-450mg of Valerian root powder or ½ teaspoon liquid extract before going to bed. You can increase the dosage to 800-1350mg and 1-2 teaspoon liquid extract according to your needs. During the day take a low dose of 400mg so that it does not make you drowsy. Once you start feeling comfortable with the effects of the root, you can increase your dosage and the frequency of consumption to two to three times a day.
For sleep the recommended dose is as follows;
- Take 300-600mg of valerian before going to bed at least 30 minutes to 2 hours before sleeping.
- You can also take Valerian root tea before sleeping. Seep 2 to 3 grams of valerian root in a cup of warm to hot water for 15 minutes to make Valerian root tea.
For anxiety the recommended dose is as follows;
- Take 120 to 200 milligrams of Valerian root three times a day.
What are the possible side effects of Valerian root?
Valerian root is relatively safe. It does not cause any significant adverse effects. The herb may cause dizziness if taken in excessive amounts. If it is taken for more than two weeks, it can cause gastrointestinal problems. It does not create the development of tolerance or dependence.
What does the research say about the effects of Valerian root?
Research proves the effects of Valerian root in reversing insomnia and alleviating anxiety. A placebo-controlled study showed that 128 healthy volunteers could sleep better after taking 400mg of Valerian root extract as compared to placebo. They reported improvements in the duration needed to fall asleep, quality of sleep and also said that they had decreased the number of middle of night awakenings.
Another clinical trial consisting of 121 subjects proved that 600mg of Valerian root extract helped in overcoming insomnia of the subjects in 28 days as compared to the placebo.
Final thoughts on Valerian Root
Valerian root can rightly be taken for Opiate withdrawal as it does not cause any side effects but alleviates the symptoms of Opiate withdrawal efficiently. It should be taken in the recommended dose to get maximum benefit, and it should be avoided by patients having hepatic, renal and cardiovascular disorders. Valerian root supplements are beneficial for the health of patients undergoing the detox process.
Frequently asked questions
What are the possible interactions of Valerian root?
If it is taken with other sleep-inducing supplements, it can cause severe tiredness and dizziness. Thus it should not be taken with other medications. It should not be consumed with alcohol at any cost.
What are the recommended doses of various forms of valerian root?
- Valerian root tea: Pour 1 cup of hot water over one teaspoonful (2 to 3 grams) of dried Valerian root, steep 10 to 15 minutes.
- Valerian root tincture (1:5): 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoon (4 to 6 mL)
- Valerian root fluid extract (1:1): 1/2 to 1 teaspoon (1 to 2 mL)
- Valerian root dry powdered extract (4:1): 250 to 600 milligrams
Is Valerian root safe?
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved of Valerian root and have labeled it as ‘recognized as safe’ (GRAS). Mild side effects occur after first consumption or taking Valerian root in excessive amounts. Therefore, it can be taken without any serious worries.
Who should not take Valerian root?
- Pregnant and lactating women should avoid Valerian root.
- Alcoholics must not consume it.
- Those with liver disorders must avoid taking Valerian root.
- Children below the age of 3 years should not be given Valerian root.
- Do not take Valerian root with other medications like muscle relaxants, narcotic pain relievers, prescription sleep medications, tranquilizers, and antihistamines.