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INGREDIENT OF THE WEEK: VALERIAN ROOT

AUGUST 18, 2016

Valerian Root  is a perennial plant, native to Europe and parts of Asia. It grows in meadows and woodlands with moist, temperate climates and has since been naturalized in North America. The plant grows up to two meters high and produces small clusters of white or pink flowers. Preparations of valerian as dietary supplements are made from its roots, rhizomes (underground stems), and stolons (horizontal stems). Dried roots are prepared as teas or tinctures, and dried plant materials and extracts are put into capsules or incorporated into tablets. Valerian root is widely used and respected by the general population and physicians for its sedative effects and anti-anxiety capabilities. Valerian root is commonly included in sleep-promoting tea blends, but it doesn’t just offer a solid night’s sleep. It’s also amazing at naturally calming anxiety and can even lower blood pressure, among other tremendous benefits. Unlike many prescription sleeping pills, Valerian has fewer side effects and is a lot less likely to result in morning drowsiness. Valerian can cause sedation by increasing your brain’s GABA level. GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter, and in large enough quantities it can cause a sedative effect. Results from an in vitro study suggest that valerian extract may cause GABA to be released from brain nerve endings and then block GABA from being taken back into nerve cells. Valerians valerenic acid inhibits an enzyme that destroys GABA, another way that valerian can improve your GABA levels and promote a great night’s rest.

Valerian Root has many other benefits, including calming the mind and body, lowering blood pressure, and improving heart health.Valerian root supplements can help naturally reduce blood pressure and keep it at a healthy level, which has a direct positive impact on your heart health. Valerian root reduces the severity and discomfort of menstrual cramps, which is a common problem for women who suffer monthly from PMS. It’s a natural sedative and antispasmodic, which means it suppresses muscle spasms and acts as a natural muscle relaxer. Valerian root can effectively calm the severe uterine muscle contractions that cause the terrible pain many women experience during menstruation. By reducing anxiety and improving the length and quality of sleep, valerian root can significantly help with daily stress management. Also improving GABA levels, valerian makes it easier for both the mind and body to relax. Since relaxation is the antithesis of stress, valerian root is an excellent natural way to help keep your stress down and your quality of life up.