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This ancient sleep remedy is one of the main ingredients in our Sleep Superfood powder because its main compound valerianic acid inhibits the production of an enzyme that destroys GABA, increasing the neurotransmitters availability.

Inside the Root


Straight from the Source

Valerian Root

Valerian root, or Valeriana officinalis, is a member of the honeysuckle family that is native to Europe and Asia. While it has been prescribed to improve sleep for thousands of years, recent studies have shown that its sleep benefits are due to several compounds that increase GABA availability which interacts with certain receptors involved in mood and sleep.


Valerian root has been used as a sleep aid for thousands of years as documented by texts from ancient Greek physicians Hippocrates and Dioscorides. There is even documentation of it being prescribed in 200 CE to the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelias to trat his insomnia.

Even though the root as a powerful odor similar to Limburger cheese, in Medieval Europe it was used to make perfume. Its cheese like scent could also be why tradition says that the Pied Piper carried valerian root in his back pocket to help lure the rats out of Hamelin.

During World War I, Valerian was used to treat shellshocked solders, and during World War II it was given to the English civilians to relieve the stress of air raids.

Today several European agencies have approved the use of valerian to help treat restlessness and sleeping disorders based on anxiety.


Valerian is sowed in the fall preferably in moist soil that receives partial shade. It quickly shoots up on the spring and in the summer, it will produce white and pink flowers that pollinators love. Once the flowers have finished blooming and the plant begins to enter its winter dormancy the roots are harvested. The stem is cut near the base of plant and then the roots are gently dug up with a spade or garden fork. After being harvested the roots are then air dried for several weeks before they can be milled into a powder.


Valerian root is a perineal flower that grows up to 5 feet tall, featuring a clump of deeply lobed basal foliage from which rise tall, slender, sparsely-leaved stems. In the summer fragrant, white flowers bloom on top of the stems in 4-inch-wide cymes. It has odd-pinnate leaves that are toothed with lance-shaped leaflets that are aromatic when bruised


The name Valerian comes from the Latin word valere, meaning “to be strong or healthy”, generally thought to refer to its medicinal use, though many references suggest that it also refers to the strong odor.derives from a miss translation of its Latin name.

Valerian Root Benefits*

Valerian is often referred to as “nature’s Valium” and has been used to treat sleep disorders since ancient Greece due to its calming benefits. Recent studies have shown its main compound Valeric acid can modulate GABA receptors to increase the molecules availability in the central nervous system.

Historical Uses

Valerian has been used medicinally since the times of ancient Greece and Rome to treat insomnia, migraine, fatigue, and stomach cramps.

Other Potential Health Benefits of Valerian Root*:

  • Reduce anxiety
  • Improve focus and attention
  • Relieve menstrual cramps
  • Manage stress


Our Valerian Root Source:

Our Organic Valerian Root comes from Foster Botanical Farms, an organic herb family farm in Vermont



Although the ancient Romans did not understand the benefits this flowering root had on the body’s GABA production, the fact that they prescribed it to help with Emperor’s sleep disorders shows they anecdotally know it could improve sleep quality.

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