Decoding Valerian Root: Your Guide to Stress Relief for Corporate Professionals

Decoding Valerian Root: Your Guide to Stress Relief for Corporate Professionals

Work schedules and excessive job demands will take down the best of the best executives in today’s corporate world when there’s no corporate stress management program in place. But with a simple herb such as valerian root, stress relief can be achieved helping employees to boost their productivity at work. Read on to learn more about the benefits of this all-natural stress remedy.

What Causes Stress for Corporate Employees?  

In addition to the assigned tasks for a position, there are a number of sources of stress for those in corporate jobs:

  • Tight deadlines
  • Overtime
  • Lack of resources
  • Fear of job stability
  • Conflicts with coworkers
  • Feeling the need to bury emotions 
  • Long work commute time
  • Emotional outbursts at work 
  • Management style mismatches

These stressful situations can lead to depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, and have been linked with chronic diseases as well.

What Properties of Valerian Root Make It Good for Managing Stress?

If the effects of stress at a corporate job result in disruption of sleep cycles, valerian may be the herb of preference for stress relief from work. But there are a number of other benefits from the herb including:

  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Alleviating anxiety
  • Creating vivid dreams
  • Helping to alleviate depression
  • May help promote better digestion by relaxing tension in the GI tract
  • Alleviating intestinal gas
  • Keeping you asleep during the night with less waking
  • Helping you fall asleep faster
  • Effective in mild to moderate insomnia

Are you surprised about the alleviation of depression? Animal studies show that when chronic mild stress was induced in rats to cause depression, giving valerian for three weeks increased the levels of 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) in the hippocampus to normal levels. (Tang J, 2008) Although this study was in animals, it gives us a clue that this is the mechanism of how valerian can aid in true healing for those with depression.

What’s In Valerian Root?

Every herb contains dozens if not hundreds of medicinal components responsible for its actions on the human body. Valerian is no different, and contains valeric acid, valepotriates, alkaloids, and free amino acids such as GABA, tyrosine, glutamine, and arginine. 

From this list, you might see a few ingredients you are familiar with. Tyrosine is a precursor to neurotransmitters that are involved in mood regulation, the stress response, and cognitive functions. Glutamine is used as an energy source during periods where there’s high energy demand or stress and as a supplement by athletes for muscle recovery. Arginine opens up arteries to enhance blood flow via the synthesis of nitric oxide while supporting proper blood pressure, sexual health, and recovery from heart attacks. 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Around the year 2000, some physicians believed that the active constituents of valerian root act synergistically to produce its sedative effects and interactions with neurotransmitters. (Hadley S, M.D., 2003.) One of those neurotransmitters is GABA. Valerian root is considered to be a GABA-modulating herb, according to Australian scientists, who reported this in the journal, Phytotherapy Research. (Savage K, 2018) 

They stated that valerian root has comparative anxiety-decreasing effects to current pharmaceuticals for the same purpose. They also commented on its great safety report and noted that people don’t have issues taking the herb; they tolerate it well. They based these conclusions on their preclinical and clinical trials.

Is Valerian Root Stress Relief Possible?

In herbal healing, there’s a concept called the doctrine of signatures. This is where herbalists have found that often, if a plant resembles certain body parts or organs, it may contain properties that make them effective for treating ailments or conditions related to those body parts or organs. 

When the valerian root is unearthed from the ground, it has a distinctive appearance. It looks as if the root is being hugged or held by two different plants. And what do we need most when we are stressed out? Often, it’s a hug! 

A little herbal hug may come in handy while making critical decisions with financial implications, managing teams, or navigating the complexities of legal cases or business processes. These situations can easily lead to overthinking as you lay your head down on your pillow at night.

Traditional & Modern Uses of Valerian Root for Stress Relief

Valerian root is a traditional herbal remedy for better sleep. In Chinese medicine, it’s used for headaches and depression. Most commonly, valerian has been used for its sedative properties in those with insomnia and anxiety.

Valerian is specifically helpful for people who tend to worry–and that can include those in the modern corporate world. It can alleviate a busy mind that has racing thoughts throughout the night, or if you wake during the night often. It can address the problem of fretting over what could happen if a decision goes sour at work, causing problems with maintaining a normal sleep schedule.

It can be a helpful supplement for those who think a lot about “this is what I should have done or said,” “I could have ___,” or “I would have _____.” That makes it indispensable for those who currently have a contentious worksite and are looking for workplace stress relief.

Scientific Connections Between Valerian Root and Stress Relief

One 2021 study of 3,583 corporate executives that appeared in the International Archives of Occupational & Environmental Health showed a distinct correlation of longer work hours and commute time, depression, anxiety, and stress with fewer hours of sleep each night in both men and women. These executives also ended up with poorer psychological, cardiovascular and metabolic health. 

One of the biggest keys for stress relief from work, according to head researcher Paula R. Pienaar, is sleep health interventions. 

This is where valerian root, a perennial herb native to North America, Europe, and Asia, may have the advantage, and perhaps should be considered part of a program for stress management for professionals. Let’s see what’s in the herb and examine some studies to see if valerian should be considered for workplace stress relief.

Studies on Valerian Root For Sleep

In one study of valerian that goes back to the 1980s, researchers tested the herb on 128 volunteers who claimed to be good sleepers and those who had difficulty falling asleep. They received either valerian extract or a placebo. 

The good sleepers were largely unaffected by the extract. This is not surprising since they had no real need for the herb. However, older male poor sleepers, female poor sleepers, younger poor sleepers, smokers, and those who took a long time to fall asleep after going to bed experienced the most significant effects. (Leathwood PD, 1982) 

In another study by the same principal researcher, a dose of 450 or 900 mg valerian root extract  decreased the amount of time it took for subjects to fall asleep as well as more stable sleep during the first quarter of the night in one double-blind study. (Leathwood PD, 1985) This means valerian had the power to stop all those racing thoughts and ‘would haves-could haves.’

People often take benzodiazepines for sleep-related issues. This medication has sedative and calming effects on the Central Nervous System. Valium, Lorazepam, Klonopin, and Xanax are examples of commonly used benzodiazepines. However, these substances can easily lead to addiction and dependence.

Valerian can come to the rescue once again in this situation. This herb has been found to attenuate benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms in humans and animals. (Andreatini R, 1994; and Poyares AR, 2002)

Valerian Root Side Effects

Luckily, there are very few adverse effects seen with the use of this herb. Medical studies report possible headaches or GI effects, which are rare. One valerian root side effect noted was “vivid dreams,” which may be welcome in those who rarely dream. (Wheatley D, 2001) 

In the last few decades, it was surmised that valerian may potentiate the sedative effects of anesthetics, barbiturates, and CNS depressants. (Schulz V, 1998) However, this has not been proven, and some researchers have reported that the sleep-enhancing properties of valerian are due to its antidepressant and anxiolytic activity, not sedative properties. (Hattesohi M, 2008)

How to Take Valerian Root for Stress Relief

The proper dosage of valerian root varies depending on the form and brand. Generally speaking, 300-600 mg or 900 mg in capsules or extract form is taken 30 minutes to 2 hours before bedtime. You could also soak 2-3 gm of the dried root in one cup of hot water for 10-15 minutes. (Schulz V, 1998). If you have a tincture, the usual dose is 2-6 ml of 1:1-1:5 tincture daily.

Animal studies have shown that an iridoid-rich fraction of valerian herb is extremely safe in the usual clinical dose, and may not have any single dose toxicity. To explain this further, you would have to take a 50%+ higher dosage than the usual dose per kilogram of body weight for it to possibly become toxic, making it nearly impossible to consume that amount per day. (Xu K, 2015)

How Can Valerian Root Be Incorporated Into the Daily Routine of a Corporate Professional?

The best way to take valerian extract or root is to take it after dinner, up to two hours before bed. However, if you forget to take it then, don’t fret. Some report that the herb worked within 9 minutes of taking it. Try this as a little experiment yourself if you forget.

One of the most common questions asked about corporate professionals incorporating valerian root into their daily routines is, ‘Won’t valerian affect my reaction time, alertness, and concentration because it’s a sedative?’

It’s a good question to ask, and German scientists have tested the herb for these effects. They tested reaction time, alertness, and concentration of 102 male and female volunteers. Each volunteer first took an evening dose of 600 mg valerian root extract and their reaction times were measured. Then they took an evening dose daily for 14 days. Measurements were taken again after the 14-day period. The scientists concluded that neither dose type had a negative impact on reaction time, alertness and concentration the morning after intake. (Kuhlmann J, 1999) 

A Canadian study led by Jennifer R. Glass found similar results for manual tracking and digit symbol substitution tests as well as sedation with doses of 400 and 800 mg valerian in 14 healthy elderly volunteers. (Glass J, 2003) Valerian did not act as a sedative in this case. 

Valerian root does not cause sleepiness on awakening, compared to benzodiazepines, which are psychoactive drugs that sedate via the central nervous system. (Hadley S, M.D., 2003)

Interestingly, additional studies have not found valerian to have sedative effects although earlier herbal books recording traditional herbal wisdom have considered valerian a sedative. As herbal wisdom unfolds, these types of mysteries are solved.


Valerian root helps you fall asleep faster and keeps you asleep with less waking. It helps alleviate anxiety, depression, and intestinal gas, and promotes better digestion. And it may even lower your blood pressure. In short, it can be a major part of your stress relief from work.

With all this evidence, why not give Soma Naturals valerian root a chance to show you how to improve the quality of your life, both at home and at work? 



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