Researchers at Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, in Tehran, Iran, evaluated valerian — an herb with sedative effects and antispasmodic effects on smooth muscles — on the severity of dysmenorrhea.

First, the details.

  • 100 students were randomly assigned to a treatment group.
    • Valerian 255 mg given 3 times daily for 3days beginning at the onset of menstruation, for 2 consecutive menstrual cycles
    • Placebo
  • Pain severity was evaluated with a visual analog scale.
  • Systemic manifestations were assessed using a multidimensional verbal scale.
  • Neither the patients nor researchers knew the treatment given — double blind.

And, the results.

  • Pain severity at the start of the study didn’t differ significantly between the groups.
  • After treatment, pain severity was significantly reduced in both groups.
    • The extent of the reduction was significantly larger in the valerian group.
  • Except for syncope, systemic manifestations associated with dysmenorrhea did not change significantly after taking valerian vs placebo.

The bottom line?

The authors concluded, “Valerian seems to be an effective treatment for dysmenorrhea, probably because of its antispasmodic effects.”

In the only other somewhat related study, researchers at the University of Messina, in Italy concluded, “Valerian extracts may have direct inhibitory effects on the contractility of the human uterus, and this justifies the traditional use of this plant in the treatment of uterine cramping associated with dysmenorrhea.

10/6/11 20:28 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.