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Valerian extract is considered by many to be a safe and effective treatment for insomnia and  anxiety,  as well as a natural muscle relaxer.  But like any herbal supplement,  there is a risk of side effects.  Valerian side effects are rare and usually mild,  but it is not for everybody.  There are certain situations and people for which valerian root extract is not appropriate.


If you are going to have any type of surgery,  you should stop taking valerian and notify your physician.  Valerian root acts as a depressant to the central nervous system.  This can cause complications if any kind of anethstesia is or sedation is being used.  It could also interact with certain medications following your surgery.

Pregnant Women

While there is no information to suggest that valerian root would be harmful to pregnant women or a fetus.  It has not been studied for use in pregnant women.  Any effects on breastfeeding infants are also unclear.  If you are pregnant or lactating,  it is recommended that you consult a doctor trained in herbal therapies.


Alcohol should be consumed in moderation or not at all with valerian root.  Valerian and alcohol both suppress the central nervous system.  These will have an additive effect when mixed and could contribute to a sense of intoxication;  as well as loss of balance and coordination.


Benzodiazepines are drugs that suppress the central nervous system and include Valium,  Xanax,  Klonopin,  Libruim,  Ativan,  as well as others.  Combining these with valerian will have an additive effect and may cause drowsiness,  loss of balance,  and confusion.  Do not attempt to combine these unless you consult a doctor trained in herbal medicine.

CNS Depressants

Combining central nervous system depressants such as pentobarbital (Nembutal),  phenobarbital (Luminal),  fentanyl (Duragesic, Sublimaze),   secobarbital (Seconal),  as well as others will have an additive effect when mixed with valerian.  This should not be done without doctor supervision.

Other Naturals

Many people use melatonin for sleep and anxiety,  as well as other herbs such as kava-kava.  While no serious interactions have been found,  these herbs can have an additive effect when combined;  and should be used with caution.  Melatonin side effects may be compounded by valerian.

Operating Motor Vehicles and Machinery

Valerian root can cause drowsiness and dizziness.  You should be aware of how valerian will affect you before attempting to operate a motor vehicle or heavy machinery.

Valerian Root Side Effects

  • Stomach ache
  • Dizziness and drowsiness
  • Blurred vision
  • Morning grogginess
  • Changes in Heartbeat
  • Allergic Reaction
  • Anxiety and insomnia

In Closing

While there is a clear reason for some of these side effects,  the occurrence of certain valerian side effects such as anxiety and insomnia,  are not well understood.  Different substances will affect different people in different ways.  The most common allergic reactions are rash,  itching,   hives,  tightness in the chest,  difficulty breathing,  swelling of the mouth,  lips,  face,  or tongue.  If you experience any of these seek immediate medical attention.

Side effects and allergic reactions are possible with any medication or herbal supplement.  And valerian root has been shown to be safe and effective when taken for short periods of time.  But it is always a good idea to listen to your body for signals,  and consult medical treatment when necessary.

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