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Valeriana officinalis


Valeriana officinalis 

[span class=alert]In regards to the Traditional Use and Therapeutic Action sections of Essential Oils, the oils are rated as is standard practice in the French school of aromatherapy and others. The ratings ranked from one (+) to four (++++) with four indicating the highest value, indicate the oil’s therapeutic value from a practicing clinician’s point of view. The French rating system mentioned are obtained from this book reference entitle ‘Les Cahiers Pratiques D'Aromatherapie Selon L'Ecole Francaise’ (Authors: Francine Baudry, Pascal Debauche & Dominique Baudoux). However, further clarification might be required and will be updated once additional information of the rating system is obtained.[/span]

Family Name


Genus Name


Vernacular Name

Valerian, common valerian, all-heal

Original Habitat

Valerian is native to Europe and has been used in traditional medicine by the Greeks. It grows well in temperate zones in areas of low soil acidity. The Valerian plant has small pink or white flowers when in bloom which grow in clusters. The perennial, spreading plant grows upwards of two metres and requires a partly shaded and moist area to thrive. The Latin translation of ‘Valerian’ means strength.

Plant Part Used



The use of Valerian in foods is typically limited to specialty beverages.[1] It is rarely used in the perfume industry and in therapeutic aromatherapy it is used as both a single oil and in formulations.


Valerian essential oil is steam distilled and is woodsy and balsamic in aroma. The oil is dark yellow to deep brown in colour. It is of moderate viscosity when fresh, but thickens and darkens with age and takes on an offensive odor due to the isovaleric acid.[1]

Chemical Constituents

Isovaleric acid
Valerenic acid
(Z)-valernyl acetate
Bornyl acetate
Valeranone [2][3][4]

Medicinal Uses


 Antimicrobial- In laboratory analysis, the essence of valerian demonstrated antimicrobial activity against Aspergillus niger, Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, and Saccharomyces cerevisiae.[4]

Antispasmodic- In guinea pig ileum, the chemical components of Valerian essential oil decreased potassium-induced spasm in vivo. The chemical constituent valeranone inhibited contractions.[5]

Traditional Use

Digestive aid++
Anxiety, stress++++
Irritable bowel syndrome+++

 Cardiovascular Activity- Animal models have demonstrated some level of efficacy in regard to treatement of coronary heart disease. To further this exploration of the properties of Valerian essential oil, researchers conducted as clinical study of 82 patients with CHD. The study design treated two groups: one with Valerian oil and the other with a salvia miltiorrhiza treatment. Both groups demonstrated significant improvements but the Valerian group demonstrated greater improvements in decreasing the attack frequency and shortening the duration of angina, among other parameters.[6]

 Additional clinical research has been conducted examining the use of Valerian oil and its mood balancing properties via inhalation.[7]

Note: There are numerous clinical studies on the use of the herb, but limited information on the oil.  However they each share similar chemical constituents.

Contraindications and Precautions

In a human study, it was noted that ingestion of valerian oil did not have any negative side effects on the liver or kidneys.[6]

Not to be used by pregnant or nursing women.

Not to be used with children unless recommended by a healthcare professional and monitored.


[span class=alert]Keep out of reach of children as oils are highly concentrated.Essential oils are irritating to the eyes.  Avoid contact with eye area.Always dilute essential oils with carrier oil, lotion, cream or gel even when using in diffuser or bath.Essential oils are sometimes prescribed to be used internally, but should only be used internally under professional supervision.[/span]

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  1)  Medicinal Herbs


  1. Lis-Balchin M. Aromatherapy Science: A Guide for Healthcare Professionals. Pharmaceutical Press.UK; 2006. 230-232.
  2. Safaralie A. Essential oil composition of Valeriana officinalis L. roots cultivated in Iran. Comparative analysis between supercritical CO2 extraction and hydrodistillation. J Chromatogr A. 8Feb2008;1180(1-2):159-164.
  3. Hendriks H. Pharmacological Screening of Valerenal and some other Components of Essential Oil of Valeriana officinalis. Planta Med. May1981;42(5):62-68.
  4. Letchamo W. Essential oil of Valeriana officinalis L. cultivars and their antimicrobial activity as influenced by harvesting time under commercial organic cultivation. J Agric Food Chem. 16Jun2004;52(12):3915-3919.
  5. Hazelhoff B. Antispasmodic effects of valeriana compounds: an in-vivo and in-vitro study on the guinea-pig ileum. Arch Int Pharmacodyn Ther. Jun1982;257(2):274-287.
  6. Yang GY. Clinical studies on the treatment of coronary heart disease with Valeriana officinalis var latifolia.Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi. Sep1994;14(9):540-542.
  7. Warren C. Warrenbur S. Mood benefits of fragrances. Perf Flav 18. 1993; 9-16.

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