View Full Version : Is Valerian bad for you?

10-01-2008, 14:15
Hi Everybody...
I started drinking Valerian tea regularly last month to help me sleep... I was drinking too much coffee and it really helped me to get to sleep when I had the caffeine jitters.

Now I'm almost completely off coffee but my sleep cycles are still really messed up... I've been drinking Valerian earlier in the day... and work up to 3 cups by 3 am, but I am still not able to get to sleep until VERY late. And in the morning I feel groggy.

I want to kick myself out of this bad sleep routine. I am thinking to set an alarm clock, wake up very early (even if I've only had 3 hours of sleep), drink ONE cup of coffee, and then drink ONE cup of Valerian around 9 pm.

I am just wondering if Valerian is bad for you because I heard it was addictive and I am wondering if it is making my sleeplessness worse rather than improving it... if I am developing a tolerance for it.

Also, I have a kidney deficiency that I was born with that makes ALL chemicals MUCH more strong for me so even legal herbs like coffee and valerian tea are almost like drugs for me, they affect me so strongly and take a long time for me to eliminate...

Help, anyone?

I usually know a lot about herbs but in this case I am stumped about how to help myself...



10-01-2008, 15:10
I have to say I've never tried the tea. So won't truely beable to say from experience about that. I have tried taking Valerian capsules though.

I don't understand how you're drinking it. You say you start drinking some earlier in the day (about what time?) then finish around 3:00 AM??? That doesn't make sense to me. Shouldn't you be in bed by then? And you shouldn't drink any during the day - it will make you a bit sleepy and if you can't go to bed at that time you will defeat the drinking of it. You should be drinking some in the evening IMO.

As for the groggy feeling.....Valerian does have a tendency to cause "hangovers". That's just one of the drawbacks to using it.

I don't want to confuse you but there are quite a few other herbs and vitamins you can take to help with sleep problems. Maybe go to one of your local health food stores and ask what they have and have them explain the differences to you.

10-01-2008, 15:13
I've been drinking a Bedtime blend by Yogi Tea, it has valerian as the main ingredient...

It was helping my anxiety so that is why i started drinking it earlier... and hoping it would make a stronger dose.

I just had some 1 hour ago and now I feel very relaxed and chipper not tired at all!

I give my little girl chamomile but that's not enough for me...


10-01-2008, 15:14
You need to detox your system instead of replacing the caffeine with something else. Low sugars, and definitely stay away from pop/soda. Try flushing yourself out with regular water and deliberately get more exercise in the day, and use the alarm clocks. Even a cat nap here and there is better than the all day/night routine now with the V tea. If you can do this for about two weeks you can even yourself out.

10-01-2008, 15:19
You need to detox your system instead of replacing the caffeine with something else. Low sugars, and definitely stay away from pop/soda. Try flushing yourself out with regular water and deliberately get more exercise in the day, and use the alarm clocks. Even a cat nap here and there is better than the all day/night routine now with the V tea. If you can do this for about two weeks you can even yourself out.

Very good idea!!!

10-01-2008, 16:13
Another helpful sleep tea that I have used with great success is Kava Kava. Fantastic, yummy stuff, makes me all relaxed and sleepy with one cup. And this from a confirmed insomniac. It's really that good!

If all else fails, go to your local health food store or co-op, and ask for Tryptophan. It's the stuff in turkeys that makes you sleepy. That's my last resort.

10-01-2008, 16:47
i started eating cheese again (my daughter's allergic so i don't usually buy it but i have been eating sharp cheddar at my new house)

so that will take care of the tryptophan

i have been drinking lots of water and taking walks


thanks for the advice...
i guess i have to get an alarm clock and give it some time!


10-01-2008, 19:20
When I took a student job at a herbalist's, years ago (in Switzerland, which has a thriving herbalist tradition), we were restricted by law as to how much valerian we were allowed to sell at any one time to any one client. We were also required to advise people not to drink more than a cup a day, and not to make it a daily thing year round. Valerian is a good stop-gap during insomniac moments, but if you are a chronic insomniac, I'd find another kind of tea, and especially, find ways of relaxing yourself (meditation, reiki, warm but not hot baths, no work, computer or TV, etc.) in the hour or so before you go to bed. Any kind of sleep aid - whether natural or synthetic - will end up messing with your natural sleep patterns.

And Sonic is absolutely right - you need to detox your system.

10-01-2008, 21:14
Like you, I am a chronic insomniac too... it's horrid, isn't it?! :neutral:

I tried everything that people recommended, (other than prescription drugs- didn't want to go that route) but I can still easily stay up until 2-3:00 in the morning, if I let myself.

I found the best way, (for me) was to try and change my mindset... I sat down and made a list one day- WHY do I hate going to bed so much?? (always have- ever since a child). Being made to go to bed was a punishment, and it must have happened quite frequently because I remember often crying myself to sleep. So there are lots of negative connotations for me personally.

Also, I was raised in a very strict fundamentalist X-tain environment- told to say my prayers before I went to bed, (that ghastly... "if I should die before I wake..." they teach children- and this after being told that bad little girls who die in their sleep wake up in hell :bugeyed:) so that certainly didn't help!

My point is this- often long-term sleep problems have their root in childhood, and if that's the case for you, try and go back and see if you can pin-point when it started to happen, and what triggered it... and how can you nurture and heal that situation for yourself in the present.

Now, I avoid all caffeine drinks after 8:00 at night. I know you say chamomile doesn't work for you, but it's still soothing- just because you don't feel it straight away doesn't mean it's not working... and it's good for the digestion as well.
Some others you could get from a reputable herbalist include:
catnip, (yes, the same one your cats like- has a calming effect on humans.:grin:) One heaping teaspoon in an infusion; strain and drink like tea.
Lavendar... can be used in a herbal sleep pillow, or a few drops of essential oil in a nice nighttime bath is good.
Wood Betony- a good calming herb to be drunk in an infusion, like a tea.
Hops- can be put in a sleep pillow, (just a handful! they are pretty pungent) along with mugwort, and lavender.

Try and do something that will make bedtime attractive- and start winding down a good hour before. Sit and listen to soothing music (whilst sipping that chamomille :grin:) or just sit quietly and think back over the day, and maybe do a brief meditation... write in a journal, (NICE thoughts about your day! you want to be feeling good about yourself.)
I keep a dream diary now, because that gives me motivation to get to bed... lack of sleep means no dreams!

As to the Valerian... if I was you i'd use it more sparingly... alternate your sleep teas so that you don't develop a tolerance to any one of them. Oooh- just thought of another you could possibly use during the day- can you get Rooibos tea there? It's comes from a plant in South Africa, and it's popular here... and no caffeine!

Here's a link:

TickTock is one of the most popular brands of it here in the UK....


A good health food shop should stock it in teabags- you could give that a try, too.

Good luck... I know just how you feel, it's not an easy thing to deal with.
Sweet dreams!

10-01-2008, 21:20
Thanks so much for the good advice!

And thank you for the suggestion about Rooibos, I love tea and can't give it up but I do need to cut down on caffeine...

P.S. It's after 3am here and I'm not even tired! :(

Guess I should go make some chamomile right now...

I love your suggestion about the dream journal, too!

10-01-2008, 23:06
p.s. when you start your new regiment expect headaches. It's your bodies way of saying 'oh please don't take my caffeine away'.

Good luck!

Miss Divine
11-01-2008, 04:06
Even after cutting caffeine out of my life, my insomnia didn't go away.

I've had this problem for years, but since I quit smoking over 6 months ago it's gotten even worse.

I've tried valerian too, never helped, and many other herbal teas etc.

Maybe I should try meditating too, cuz I suffer from anxiety alot also.
Also I heard yoga helps ya relax, but I haven't tried that as of yet either.

Good luck!

11-01-2008, 04:15
Serena: I am drinking that exact same brand of Tea, Bedtime by Yogi. I love the lavendar in it, as well:)

For Anxiety: L-trytophan 500-1000 mg once to twice per day (2 at supper time, then 2 more at bedtime). This is really really good for anxiety and insomnia (specifically trouble FALLING asleep..which has always been my problem).


11-01-2008, 04:28
Do you MEAN 3 am ????

If so you certainly do need to change your habits..... :eek:

One thing a doctor told me is that it is very important to see bed as somewhere to sleep. NO READING IN BED, she said, no crosswords and the like. Or you will not have the right attitude to your bed. If it is associated with sleep rather than with waking activities, you feel different about being in bed....

I have to avoid caffeine after about 3 PM - that's in the afternoon !!! - luckily I LOVE rooibos, and drink heaps of it !

PS Serenaserendipity, I am responding to you ! ;) Sheer chance I saw the thread though.....

13-01-2008, 04:46
I have insomnia for years the best advice i can give dont drink tea or coffe after 3pm cut down cigarettes if yu smoke ,you could try a drop or two lavender on your temples or pillow before retiring dont read or watch tv in bedroom,have warm not hot bath try relaxation tapes a hour or two before retiring .if you cant sleep at night getting uo and walking on a clod floor can sometimes as when you get back into bed you feel cossseted,
i would advise a vist to a qaulifiied herbalist as sleep problems are long term .
hope this helps

15-01-2008, 05:14
A few nights ago I was reading Herbal Healing For Women by Rosemary Gladstar and I came across this~
"Although generally considered an altogether safe, nontoxic herb, valerian does have one rather unusual charateristic.
High concentrations of essential oils, including isovalerianic acid and valerianic acid contribute to the relaxing effect of valerian.
But a conversion is necessary in the digestive process for these acids to be effectively used by the system as nervines and sedatives.
If this conversion doesn't take place, valerian may act as a stimulant and further agitate an already stressed person.
When you use valerian be aware of this possibility.
Some 95% of people who use valerian find it a relaxing herb.
In about 5% of the population it acts as a stimulant. If you are in the 5% discontinue use."
Maybe because of your kidney problem you are in someway not digesting it properly and so it is acting as a stimulant for you and making it even harder to fall asleep.

15-01-2008, 05:34
Regarding my insomnia: I've found it to be actually hormonal related! (lack of estrogen..haven't had them tested, will one day)..

I've been taking a natural female balance herbal tonic that has natural estrogenic herbs in it...(chaste tree berry, licorice, damiana, dong quai, etc..) and it's made a HUGE difference in helping me to fall and stay asleep!

And I drink Soymilk and use soy products for natural estrogen balance, too.

(also had to use some natural progesterone cream at night for a few months to relax my body/mind enough to sleep as well, and that also made a huge difference.

Get your levels tested...

PM me if you want to know the products I used...or do a search on the Net...once I was balanced, then I found things like Valerian, L-tryptophan,etc to actually work better.


15-01-2008, 06:05
wow thanks so much you guys!

i cut out the bedtime tea until i get further feedback from my body about valerian--

wow, lark!:
"Some 95% of people who use valerian find it a relaxing herb.
In about 5% of the population it acts as a stimulant. If you are in the 5% discontinue use"

i think this might be me.

also i am a vegetarian and don't always eat cheese, i will try to eat cheese for L-tryptophan and hope that helps me.

thanks so much for the info, guys!

i really love it how we are in a community that shows caring through communication and problemsolving!


15-01-2008, 06:58
Eggs have L-tryptophan too.....

And I'm told bananas can help you sleep.....

I would avoid the L-tryptophan tablets/capsules though; when you take them, it converts it to 5-HTP which has nasty effects on some people. (that said, I take 5-HTP myself when I feel a major depression coming on, but I know it has made things worse for some people here...)

15-01-2008, 13:52
You say chamomile does not work for you, but I wonder if you are not using it properly.
Store bought herbal tea bags have roughly 1/8 th of the medicinal dosage.
I suggest giving chamomile another shot. I would start of with 4 bags to 8-10 oz. of water, steep the tea covered for 20 minutes. Get in bed and drink the tea. Don't do anything but relax, read a book or something for about 10-15 minutes then turn off the lights and close your eyes.
Chamomile has a 20 minute window in which it does it's work. To be up doing things after drinking the tea makes it useless.
If you are not asleep in an hour, add a bag the next night. Don't drink more, that will just wake you up in the middle of the night to pee.
Good Luck.

15-01-2008, 19:09
Fair enough - except for the book. Reading in bed makes one think of bed as - a place to read.... Listening to music is OK....

16-01-2008, 09:18
Fair enough - except for the book. Reading in bed makes one think of bed as - a place to read.... Listening to music is OK....

It's a shame you are so far away, Gregory. I could give you some technical texts I have to read for work. . . would put you to sleep after about page 3. . .

16-01-2008, 10:35
I find it very odd, if I read in bed I can't fall asleep, but if I take the same book and read it lying down on the couch in the livingroom, I'll fall sound asleep within a few pages...

17-01-2008, 13:49
Actually, Gregory, for me reading a couple hours before I want to sleep helps. But a little lavender is good on my pillow too;)
Music not so cause then although I relax, I have to worry about tangled headphone wires or turning a machine off. Sometimes though it does work and I don't turn bright awake when I take the headphones and walkman out of my bed.
If you haven't got problems with it, a glass of milk can help too.

18-01-2008, 14:32
I cannot get to sleep without prescription drugs, my mind simply will not turn off the more I try the worst the situation becomes, I've tried all the suggestions shown even bought expensive sleep DVD to no avail, I still try each evening to get the right mindset but by 2 a.m. I'm awake still and very alert

18-01-2008, 21:43
If you use them, you will become permanently dependent on them to sleep. It's a vicious circle and one well worth breaking when you can take the time off to go a few days with nothing....

19-01-2008, 11:05
If you use them, you will become permanently dependent on them to sleep. It's a vicious circle and one well worth breaking when you can take the time off to go a few days with nothing....
I agree. It can be something of a psychological thing, when you actually can sleep without them somewhat just that you're so used to it. You expect it to work and the routine of taking it, it's reliable.

opaloz, if your doctor agrees to it, just try to relax in bed, don't worry about falling asleep or not. Just try to relax. Take a warm bath, put on a nightlight or not so bright lamp and read a good book.

My method: When it's around when you want to be falling asleep, put the book beside your bed and get the light out. Close your eyes. Don't worry about anything, worry about things in the morning when the sun is back out. Breathe with the belly and just relax. Better than no sleep at all, relaxing. If you can, just read the book again till your eyes start closing.

Hope that helps!

19-01-2008, 13:30
Ok here is the update:
for the past week i have been sleeping fine!!!

but for the two weeks before that, i was up all night at least two nights a week and had so much trouble sleeping... i didn't realize i had perhaps become addicted to valerian.

so this is what i did(though this won't necessarily work for everybody!)...
per everyone's advice here... i weaned myself off the valerian and replaced it with chamomile only... (still going to bed very late ~~around 4...) but then my friend came to stay and we drank WINE. very good red wine. and then she had to take the bus early, so we woke up on only 4 hours of sleep, walked her to the bus and went to the bakery, had a coffee, appreciated the beautiful morning, and then went to bed at 7:30pm!! then we woke up at 7:30 and have been going to bed by midnight, waking up before 9 ever since.

OH! also i have been eating LOTS of sharp white cheddar cheese (for tryptophan)

now that i am off the valerian i feel like a child, i get so TIRED at night i feel like my limbs are made of lead.

the mornings have been so beautiful and my dreams have been vivid.

Ok, that's all folks

Thanks for all your help!



19-01-2008, 20:02
Way to go cheese !!!!!

20-01-2008, 13:12
Hi Serena :)
My grannie used to make hot milk for me when I couldn't fall asleep as a child. Warming it increases the lactic acid somehow, which in turn promotes restful sleep. I also had sleep problems as an adult, until I discovered melatonin. That not only works for me, I find the sleep disturbance is completely gone,and so is my low level depression, which I though would plague me forever. I buy the melatonin at CVS. Any health food store will carry it also. I buy the 3mg tablets. There's lower strengths available, but for me the 3mg works well. I do the valerian capsule thing when I have problems with pain or muscle spasms in my legs, which thankfully isn't often. I think one can become dependent on valarian, if taken too much. Kava Kava capsules work for me too, but I use these remedies for the muscle spasms, not to get to sleep. The sleep is a nice bonus.


21-01-2008, 06:18
Wonderful, Serena!

24-01-2008, 12:56
You could always try some Melatonin--I've found the sublingual 3mg tabs to work wonders re-setting circadian rhythms. They're inexpensive and work wonderfully.