Valerian, the Herb


Valerian (Valeriana officinalis, Valerianaceae) is a hardy perennial flowering plant, with heads of sweetly scented pink or white flowers which bloom in the summer months. Valerian flower extracts were used as a perfume in the sixteenth century.

I first really learned about the properties of valerian when I was reading up on menopausal things.  As some of you might know, insomnia is one of the symptoms of menopause and over the past year or so, I’ve had that symptom.  I wake up during the night and then it takes me an hour or more to get back to sleep…not a good thing when you rise at 5:00 am every morning.

My mom asks me why I get up at 5:00 when I really don’t have to, but I’ve become a morning person and I quite enjoy getting up that early.  I get up when the hubby gets up and I like to see him off in the morning.  Even on the weekends I’m up before 7:00.  Besides, I’ll have plenty of time to sleep when I leave this world.  I’ve read that over a lifetime, the difference between rising at 6:00 and 8:00 is 10 years of your life…10 years!  So come on everybody…GET UP!

But I digress….

Valerian is an herb that can help calm you and make you drowsy, helping you to sleep better.  I had intended on trying to find a supplement but never got around to it and pretty much forgot about it…until this past Wednesday morning.

I was making the pumpkin walnut bread and realized I needed more walnuts, so I bundled up (it was really chilly) and strolled to our local Asda. (the UK sister store of Wal-Mart) They are currently in the process of redoing the store so everything is not where I expect it to be, making me have to peruse the whole store looking for one item.

While perusing (I love that word!) I went down the coffee and tea aisle and came across some new herbal tea:  Dr Stuart’s Extraordinarily Good Teas.  There were about 5 different flavors, one of them being Valerian Plus.  I got it for the bargain price of £1.89 for 15 teabags.

I figured I would try it before going to bed.  When I got it home, I sat it on the kitchen window ledge.  Now let me just say that whenever we get home from the store with bags and packages, the kitties have to inspect everything to see if we got anything good…ie: any snacks for them.

Noddy jumped up and immediately went over to the box of tea and began sniffing at it and rubbing his face on it.  Upon seeing him doing this, I had a passing thought…is there catnip in there, too?  I shooshed him away from it and next came Crystal who proceeded to do the same thing.

My curiosity then got the better of me and I decided to pull out my encyclopedia of herbs and spices…and low and behold, I find out that it is ‘attractive to cats’

So that explains their sudden liking to it.

Then I proceeded to read the instructions for brewing and it reads like a bottle of medicine!  You don’t usually see the words ‘dosage’ and ‘warning’ on a box of tea!

I guess it really does calm and relax!

So I made it and drank it according to their dosage instructions; about an hour before retiring.  As I’ve never had valerian before, I didn’t know what to expect regarding its smell or taste.  I have to admit that it had an odd smell; not necessarily a bad smell but not a good one either.  I think I was smelling more of the hops than anything else.  Thankfully it tasted better than it smelled, although it was a very light taste.  I added a bit of honey and milk as I can’t drink any tea without either one; I do trade off on the honey depending on my mood so may use an artificial sweetener or fruit sugar.

My verdict on the tea’s effect:  I headed up to bed after drinking it and did a crossword puzzle until I started to feel sleepy.  Lights out at 9:45…didn’t wake until 5:15.  I’d like to contribute my full night’s sleep to the tea but there was another possible reason also…hubby was away on business that night (and the next) and it’s a known fact that everyone sleeps better alone.  You don’t have someone next to you moving around and making noises aka snoring.  So I might have to say that it was a combination of those two factors.  I’ll have the tea one night again now that he’s back home and really see if it makes a difference.

Sleep tight!


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