8 Incredible Benefits of Valerian Essential Oil

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

Some of the most important health benefits of valerian essential oil include its ability to improve sleep quality, calm gastrointestinal troubles, reduce heart palpitations, protect the skin, reduce nervous disorders, lower blood pressure, stimulate cognitive ability, eliminate anxiety, and lessen menstrual cramps, among others.

Valerian Essential Oil

Valerian is a perennial flower that is native to parts of Europe and Asia, although it is now also grown in the United States. The scientific name of this beneficial plant is Valeriana officialis and although there are over 250 varieties of this plant, many of the side effects and medical applications are the same throughout. The plant was used as a fragrance as much as 500 years ago, but its medicinal benefits have also been well known for centuries. In fact, some people call valerian as a “heal all”, and the essential oil that is extracted from this miracle plant has dozens of different applications.

While there is some controversy about how effective valerian root or essential oil is for certain conditions, there are hundreds of years of experiential evidence to back up these natural health benefits, and the scientific evidence that has been accumulated is significant and impressive. [1]

Valerian essential oil is composed of various alkaloids, acids, terpenes, and flavonoles, many of which contribute directly to the wide range of applications that valerian essential oil has. Due to its popularity, it is widely available throughout the world and its use continues to expand as more people discover the undeniable health benefits of valerian essential oil, which are explained in greater detail below. [2]

3 bottles of essential oil with dippers on a white background

Valerian essential oil has an earthy aroma that eases stress. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Health Benefits of Valerian Essential Oil

Treats Sleep Disorders

One of the oldest and most studied benefits of valerian essential oil is its ability to treat the symptoms of insomnia and improve the quality of sleep. Its many active components coordinate an ideal release of hormones and balances the body’s cycles to stimulate restful, thorough, undisturbed sleep. This has been one of the main uses of valerian root since ancient times. [3]

Lowers Anxiety & Depression

This is somewhat related to the previous point about sleep disorders, but valerian essential oil is also widely used to improve mood and reduce anxiety. The same mechanism of action that enables healthy sleep also help to reduce the negative energy and chemicals in the body that can induce anxiety and stress. These stress hormones can be dangerous when chronically in the body, so valerian essential oil can help you rebalance your body and increase your peace and calm. [4]

Improves Stomach Health

When you have an upset stomach, many people turn to pharmaceutical solutions, but natural solutions are often best for gastrointestinal problems. Valerian essential oil can quickly ease upset stomachs and induce healthy bowel movements and urination. This can help to detoxify the body and improve the nutrient absorption of the gastrointestinal tract, thereby improving health in numerous ways. [5]

Prevents Heart Palpitations

Valerian Essential oil has been directly linked to a lower occurrence of heart palpitations in certain study subjects. The volatile compounds in this essential oil interact with the acids and oils in your heart to stimulate a more normal metabolic rate and calm down erratic behavior of your cardiovascular system. [6]

Skin Care

In terms of maintaining your skin health, topical or internal application of valerian essential oil can be an unexpected ally. Valerian essential oil is able to infuse the skin with a healthy blend of protective oils that protect against the development of wrinkles and also functions as an antiviral barrier that helps keep you healthy. [7]

Regulates Blood Pressure

The same active ingredients that make valerian root so helpful for stress and anxiety also help the body regulate its blood pressure. High blood pressure can cause unnecessary strain on the cardiovascular system and increase the chances of strokes and heart attacks. Valerian essential oil can naturally reduce these risks through internal consumption. [8]

Improves Cognitive Abilities

Although many essential oils claim to positively affect cognitive ability, valerian root has been heralded as a brain booster for hundreds of years. It stimulates different areas of the brain and increases circulation, stimulating pathways that keep our brains fresh and active. Students and elderly people consume valerian root all over the world for increasing their academic performance, as well as to protect their memory and delay any cognitive disorders, like dementia. [9]

Reduces Menstrual Cramps

The relaxing nature of valerian essential oil has made it a popular part of pregnancy and menstrual therapy for many years. It can reduce the severity and discomfort of menstrual cramps, which is a welcome relief to many women who suffer through menstruation cramps, as well as discomfort and pain during pregnancy. [10]

A Final Word of Warning

Generally, there are no negative side effects of consuming valerian essential oil. However, since there are a number of powerful, volatile components in valerian essential oil, you don’t need much to experience the effects. Excessive consumption of valerian essential oil can result in dizziness, cramps, stomachaches, mild depression, and occasionally as a skin rash or hives. These are very limited occurrences, and as long as you follow your medical professional’s guidance, your use of valerian essential oil can do very little harm – but plenty of good!

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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