Safety of Valerian Root

Before taking valerian root, warnings and precautions for the supplement should be discussed with your healthcare provider. For example, you may not be able to safely take valerian root if you have epilepsy, liver disease, or certain allergies. It is also not known if valerian root is safe for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Is Valerian Root Safe?

Valerian root is an herbal supplement that is often used to treat insomnia and other sleep disorders, although it is sometimes used for other purposes as well. You may not be able to take valerian root safely if you have:
Also, let your healthcare provider know if you are:
  • Pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant
  • Breastfeeding.
Make sure to tell your healthcare provider about any other medications you are taking, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

Specific Valerian Root Warnings and Precautions

Warnings and precautions to be aware of concerning the safety of valerian root include the following:
  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classifies valerian root as "generally recognized as safe" for use in food. However, this does not mean that it is safe for medicinal use, which is usually at much higher doses than when it is used in food.
  • There have been reports of liver damage in people who took a combination of herbs that included valerian root. It is not clear if valerian root, the other herbs, or the combination caused the liver damage. Therefore, if you already have liver disease, you should check with your healthcare provider before taking valerian root.
  • Sometimes, the supplement is claimed to be useful for treating epilepsy or seizure disorders. However, you should not treat yourself for seizures or take yourself off of your usual seizure medications without your healthcare provider's approval and supervision.
  • Do not suddenly stop taking valerian root, especially if you have been taking a high valerian root dosage for a long period of time. This may cause withdrawal symptoms, such as insomnia, confusion, or even heart problems.
  • Valerian root supplements can interact with some medications (see Drug Interactions With Valerian Root).
  • It is not known if valerian root is safe for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding (see Valerian and Pregnancy and Valerian and Breastfeeding).
  • If you decide to use supplements, what you see on the label may not reflect what is in the bottle. For example, some herbal supplements have been found to be contaminated with heavy metals or prescription drugs, and some have been found to have much more or less of the featured ingredient than their label states. 
Therefore, make sure the manufacturer of your valerian root product is trusted and reputable. It is a good sign if a manufacturer abides by the rules of Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP). It is also a good sign if a product has the United States Pharmacopoeia (USP) seal, which means that the product has been independently tested and shown to contain the correct ingredients in the amounts listed on the label. Your pharmacist is a good resource for information about which manufacturers are the most reputable.
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