Herbs & Plants

Garden Heliotrope

Botanical Name: Valeriana officinalis
Family  : Valerianaceae
Subfamily: Ulmoideae
Genus : Valeriana
Kingdom: Plantae

Common Names in Danish: Baldrian, Laege Baldrian
Common Names in Dutch:Valeriaan
Common Names in English:All Heal, Common Valerian, Garden Heliotrope, Garden Valerian, Garden-Heliotrope, Valerian
Common Names in French:Valériane
Common Names in German:Baldrian
Common Names in Italian:Amantilla, Baldriana, Erva Gatta, Valeriana
Common Names in Japanese:Kanakoso, Kesso
Common Names in Portuguese:Valeriana
Common Names in Romanian:Odolean, Valerian?
Common Names in Spanish:Valeriana

Habitat: Typically found at an altitude of 0 to 1,642 meters (0 to 5,387 feet).Grows in most of europe.Native to Europe and parts of Asia, Valerian has been introduced into North America. It is consumed as food by the larvae of some Lepidoptera (butterfly and moth) species including Grey Pug.

Annual or perennial herbs, rarely shrubs . Leaves exstipulate , opposite or in basal rosettes.The plant is  4-6′ tall. Inflorescence a dichasial cyme, often changing to monochasium , sometimes paniculate or capitate. Flowers usually small, zygomorphic, bisexual or unisexual by abortion . Calyx persistent , epigynous , rolled or unrolled in flower. Corolla tubular , salver – or funnel-shaped, usually gibbous at the base , 3-5-lobed. Stamens 1-4, epipetalous , alternating with the corolla lobes . Carpels 3, united ; ovary uni- or tri-locular, with only one fertile locule; ovule pendulous, anatropous ; style simple ; stigma simple or 2-3-lobed. Fruit an achene, with a wing, an awn or pappose calyx.

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Flowers: Bloom Period: June. • Flower Color: near white, pale pink, white

A family of 13 genera and over 400 species, chiefly confined to the temperate regions , with the exception of Australia and the Andes in S. America. Represented in Pakistan by 3 genera and about 22 species

You may click to see :->How to grow Garden Heliotrope

Biochemical composition:
Known pharmacologically active compounds detected in valerian extract are:

*Alkaloids: actinidine, catinine, valerianine, and valerine
*Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)
*Valeric acid
*Valepotriates, acevaltrate, isovaltrate and valtrate
*Volatile oil containing active sesquiterpenes (acetoxyvalerenic acid, valerenic acid)
*Flavanones such as hesperidin, 6-methylapigenin and linarin

Medicinal Uses:
Heliotrope’s botanical name comes from the Latin, valere, which means “to be well”. In the first century, Dioscorides, a Greek physician in service to the Romans, described its pharmaceutical properties. Recent research in Germany and Switzerland shows that valerian encourages sleep, improves sleep quality and lowers the blood pressure. The valepotriates reduce nervous activity by prolong the action of an inhibitory neurotransmitter.

Valerian, in pharmacology and phytotherapic medicine, is the name of a herb or dietary supplement prepared from roots of the plant, which, after maceration, trituration, dehydration processes, are conveniently packaged, usually into capsules, that may be used for certain effects including sedation and anxiolytic effect.

The amino acid Valine is named after this plant.
Valerian is used for insomnia and other disorders and can be a useful alternative to benzodiazepine drugs.

In the United States Valerian is sold as a nutritional supplement. Therapeutic use has increased as dietary supplements have gained in popularity, especially after the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act was passed in 1994. This law allowed the distribution of many agents as over-the-counter supplements, and therefore allowed them to bypass the regulatory requirements of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Valerian is used against sleeping disorders, restlessness and anxiety, and as a muscle relaxant. Valerian often seems only to work when taken over longer periods (several weeks), though many users find that it takes effect immediately[citation needed]. Some studies have demonstrated that valerian extracts interact with the GABA and benzodiazepine receptors. Valerian is also used traditionally to treat gastrointestinal pain and irritable bowel syndrome. However, long term safety studies are missing. Valerian is sometimes recommended as a first-line treatment when benefit-risk analysis dictates. Valerian is often indicated as transition medication when discontinuing benzodiazepines.

Valerian has uses in herbal medicine as a sedative. The main current use of valerian is as a remedy for insomnia, with a recent meta-analysis providing some evidence of effectiveness. It has been recommended   for epilepsy but that is not supported by research (although valproic acid, an analogue of one of Valerian’s constituents (valeric acid), is used as an anticonvulsant and mood-stabilizing drug). Valerian root generally does not lose effectiveness over time.

While shown to be an effective remedy for the reduction of anxiety, it has also been reported to cause agitation, headaches and night terrors in some individuals. This may be due to the fact that some people lack a digestive conversion property necessary to effectively break down Valerian. One study found that valerian tends to sedate the agitated person and stimulate the fatigued person, bringing about a balancing effect on the system.

Oral forms, usage and adverse effects

Oral forms
Oral forms are available in both standardized and unstandardized forms. Standardized products may be preferable considering the wide variation of the chemicals in the dried root, as noted above. When standardized it is done so as a percentage of valerenic acid or valeric acid.

Dosage is difficult to determine due to the lack of standardization and variability in available forms. Typical dosages of the crude herb vary from 2-10 grams per day. Valerian root is non-toxic but may cause side effects in large excessive doses.

Adverse effects

Few adverse events attributable to valerian have been reported. Large doses (500+ mg) or chronic use may result in stomach ache, apathy, and a feeling of mental dullness or mild depression. Because of the herb’s tranquilizer properties, it may cause dizziness or drowsiness, effects that should be considered before driving or operating heavy or hazardous equipment.  In some individuals, valerian can cause stomach ache, anxiety, and night terrors (see above). Though some people like the earthy scent, many others find it unpleasant. Overall, Valerian generally comes with very mild side effects and is considered a safe dietary supplement. In rare cases, Valerian may cause an allergic reaction, typically as a skin rash, hives, or difficulty breathing.

Effect on cats and rats
An unusual feature of valerian is that the essential oil of valerian root is a cat attractant similar to catnip. The active compound in valerian for this is actinidine. Cat attractants might mimic the odor of cat urine which is caused by 3-mercapto-3-methylbutan-1-ol (MMB). Anecdotes state that valerian is also attractive to rats, so much so that it had been used to bait traps. Some versions of the legend of the Pied Piper of Hamelin have him using valerian, as well as his pipes, to attract the rats.[5] This might be related to the change of aversion into attraction to cat urine in rats infected with the parasite Toxoplasma gondii.

Valerian’s effect on cats is featured as a clue in two works by Agatha Christie.


Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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