Valerian - Valerian Valerian A. Background The malodorous...

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Valerian Valerian A. Background The malodorous root of valerian, has a musty old-gym-sock aroma. Valerian is a pink-flowered perennial herb, native to North America, Asia, and Europe, has been a popular calming and sleep-promoting agent that dates back to the 18th century. Even Hippocrates in 400 BC described its use. German health officials have approved valerian for use as a mild sedative and sleep aid, based on several European clinical trials that demonstrate these effects. It has been said that valerian is the herbal valium. The chemical composition of valerian includes sesquiterpenes (15 carbon compound) of the volatile oil (including valerenic acid and bornyl acetate), iridoids (valepotriates), alkaloids, furanofuran lignans, and free amino acids such as Ȗ -aminobutyric acid (GABA), tyrosine, arginine, and glutamine. Although the sesquiterpenes components of the volatile oil are believed to be responsible for most of valerian's biologic effects, it is likely that all of the active constituents of valerian act in a synergistic manner to produce a clinical response. The three thought to be most important, valerenic acid, acetoxyvalerenic acid and valerenal, only exist together in V. Officinalis. Some of these components have been shown to have a direct action on the amygdaloid body (plays a role in the sense of smell, motivation, and emotional behavior) of the brain and valerenic acid has been shown to inhibit enzyme-induced breakdown of GABA (acts as a neurotransmitter--a chemical that fosters communication between nerve cells--and helps to keep stress-related nerve impulses at bay) in the brain resulting in sedation. B. Proven Effects Several clinical studies have shown that valerian is effective in the treatment of insomnia, most often by reducing sleep latency. A double-blind, placebo-controlled trial (1) compared a 400 mg aqueous extract of
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This note was uploaded on 06/09/2010 for the course MFC 141 taught by Professor Horvath during the Summer '10 term at SUNY Buffalo.

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Valerian - Valerian Valerian A. Background The malodorous...

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