Valerian is a perennial herb with small, white flowers in small clusters and small and smooth fruit. The herb grows up to one meter in height. Its rootstock is thicker than the stem, producing suckers or shoots rising from the ground. The stems are furrowed, hairy below and smooth above, whereas its lower leaves are long compared to the smaller upper leaves.
Valerian contains valerianic, formic and acetic acids, in addition to an essential oil, resin, starch, a glucoside and two alkaloids - chatrine and valerianine.
Botanical Name: Valeriana officinalis
Indian Name: Jalakan
Below are some of the medicinal properties of valerian:
- It is a traditional remedy for functionally disturbances of the nervous system. It was perhaps the earliest treatment of neurosis, accompanied by physical diseases with mental symptoms or social maladjustment, especially in interpersonal relationships.
It is particularly useful in treating cases of hysteria, restless and irritable conditions. The drug exercise depressant action on the overall central nervous system. It has gained importance in recent years owing to its beneficial effects in epilepsy. It is also considered useful in cholera, a condition marked by incessant involuntary jerks.
- Valerian is beneficial in treating insomnia. It reduces excitement, irritation and pain. The fresh juice of the plant can be used as a narcotic to induce sleep.
The juice of the fresh rhizomes and roots is considered more effective in the treatment of nervous disorders as its medicinal properties get reduced on drying. An infusion of valerian is prepared by infusing 30 grams of the herb in half a liter of boiling water. The latter should be taken in small quantities three or four times daily.