Sunday, 11 January 2015

Herbal Rescue Remedy - Valerian officinalis

Valerian - I am getting Sleepy

 After a stressful time before Christmas I found my sleep was disrupted and  my back and shoulders and neck were aching. This pain, I suspected, was because I was tense rather than a strain from digging on my plot.. Finally just after Christmas  I developed  a heavy cold and cough,  Then I was more frequently waking up in the night and finding it difficult to get back to sleep.  During the day I felt exhausted.  After a couple of day of this I set off  find a herbal rescue remedy. I went to see my local Medical Herbalist. Sandy,  After a consultation we decided that Valerian was the rescue remedy I need.

I used one teaspoon to make herbal infusion which I drank half an hour before I went to bed. It worked almost immediately, although at first I was still woken in the night by my busy mind chattering away, or a bout  of  coughing would wake me.   However I  was more relaxed and I was able to get back to sleep much more quickly. Gradually my sleep pattern has returned to normal.   The aches in my back, shoulder and neck were eased effectively.. I used Valerian tea  for ten days..  It seemed wise not to use it continuously but only when needed.  It is not addictive but I did not want to become psychologically dependent on it to get to sleep.

The taste of Valerian is for many people unpleasant and often they add honey and lemon, or mint to it. I found it OK and took it straight without additions.

Healing with Valerian

All parts of Valerian have sedative effect but the highest concentration is in the roots. Valerian has been compared to Valium, but Valerian is much safer and milder sedative and muscle relaxant and does not have side effects  of Valium. Valerian is contained in many over the counter medicines to ease insomnia and to deal with stress.. In Germany over 100 medicines have Valerian as the active ingredient as sleep aids and tranquilizers, some of which are suitable for children over 2 years old.

The Pied Piper of Hamelin musician and Herbalist

The modern story of the Pied Piper has him enchanting the Rats with his flute playing but early German Folklore credits him as being a accomplished herbalist and he charmed the rats and children with the hypnotic effect of Valerian and his flute.  It would have certainly worked on the rats  Rats and cats love it and sprawl and roll on the plant in ecstasy. It has a similar effect on cats as catnip. Raymondo cat would bruise the leaves of catnip by rolling on them each morning.  I had a supply of Pots for him to enjoy,   If the Pied Piper had given the children a drink containing Valerian it could have relaxed any fears they may have had about following the Piper out of Hamelin

The Greeks and Romans called  Valerian  Fu  - phew  -because of its taste, it was used as a diuretic, antidote to poison, pain relied and by  Galen as a decongestant.  Around the 10th Century it began to be called Valerian  derived from the Latin "valeo" meaning  " I am well".   It was known in local folklore as  "all well" suggesting its use as an ancient medicine.  The term officinalis  reflects the fact that monks and nuns distilled  this herb  in their herbarium still room. The 10th Century the German Abbess  Hildegard  of Bingen, a distinguished  herbalist, recommended it as a tranquilizer and sleep aid.

Culpeper in the seventeenth Century described Valerian as:
As Excellent  against nervous affections
During the World War 1 Valerian was prescribed for soldiers with shattered nerves as a result of the artillery bombardment and the horrors of life they had to endure on the battlefields. and in the trenches.

David Hoffman author of  book Holistic Herbal calls Valerian
one of the most useful relaxing herbs.
I am glad that my Medical Herbalist Sandy recommended  its used  at a time for me of sudden stress and illness.  I take most herbal remedies as a cold infusion or as  herbal tea of fresh or dried herbs rather than taking supplements or over the counter medicines..

Growing Valerian on My Plot.

I am wondering whether to grow Valerian on my plot, it is a hardy perennial.  It can be grown from seed or root cuttings. The seeds however, have a short viability, therefore  I  would need to get a root. It grow in the wild in marshy places and damp hedgerows, It grows to 5 or 6 feet, the flowers are pale pink or white, the leaves grow in pair which distinguish it from Kentranthus-ruber or Garden Valerian. which grows leaves in groups and the flowers are like red spurs.  Garden Valerian in the wild  grows on cliffs and in stone walls.

Valerian officinals  does have odour which the herbalist Michael Moor described as:
Like the smell of dirty socks
Hmm may be I will think again about growing it on my plot!

To help with quieting the mind before going to sleep you may like to listen to ELFENTHAL The early music ensemble playing "Caritas in abundat omnia"  a chant composed by Hildegard of Bingen  
 Love lives in all things, from these lowest being to the highest stars

 Wishing You Good Sleep and Reiki blessing


PS  Chocolate is another  Herbal Rescue Remedy I used over Christmas.   I will blog  about this wonderful herb soon. Watch this space!

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