Thinking of taking valerian to help you sleep?

Before you do, consider these quotes.

From the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements

  • “Although the results of some studies suggest that valerian may be useful for insomnia and other sleep disorders, results of other studies do not.”
  • “Overall, the evidence from these trials for the sleep-promoting effects of valerian is inconclusive.”

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM)

  • “Valerian may be helpful for insomnia, but there is not enough evidence from well-designed studies to confirm this.”
  • “NCCAM is funding a study to look at the effects of valerian on sleep in healthy older adults.”

  • “A recent government review of studies done on valerian found the evidence was inconclusive.”

A 2006 University of California, San Francisco review of the literature

  • “Identified 16 eligible studies examining a total of 1093 patients.”
  • “Most studies had significant methodologic problems.”
  • “The valerian doses, preparations, and length of treatment varied considerably.”
  • “There was evidence of publication bias.”
  • “The available evidence suggests that valerian might improve sleep quality.”

And then there’s this from in 2001.

  • “Only 9 of the 17 valerian products passed testing.”
  • “Four products completely lacked the marker compounds that identify the presence of Valeriana officinalis.”
  • “Four others had roughly half of the expected levels.”

Also, don’t take it if you are scheduled for surgery.

12/18/06 20:58 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.