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September Herb of the Month - Valerian

Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)

You may have heard of the plant and it’s uses as a sleeping aid. Let’s dive a bit deeper and explore one of my garden favorites.

Synonyms:

Garden Heliotrope, Vandal Root


Description:

This plant thrives well in wet soil but can also be found in some highland meadows. It is native to Europe and parts of Asian but does grow well here in Canada growing zone 3. The mature plant can stand as tall a 5ft. The flowers have a mild sweet scent; however, the root is used for medicine and it is well known for its strongly usually unappealing scent. The stems are hollow and lead up to an umbrella like cluster of dainty pink flowers. The leaves are opposite and lightly toothed.


Parts Used:

Roots, Flowers for flower essence

Actions/Uses:

Valerian is a commonly used plant among herbalists. It is more commonly used as a nervine to help calm a person down. It has been used as a hypnotic and a sedative to help produce sleep and to help one fall asleep quicker. Less common uses for this herb are as an antispasmodic in cases of twitches and ticks in smooth and skeletal muscles, a carminative to relax the stomach and lower GI tract which promotes better digestion and as an emmenagogue.


Folklore:

Valerian has a rich history in folklore around the world. It is rumored that the pied piper that played his flute to rid the rates out of town must have had Valerian on him, rats love the smell of valerian and would have followed the scent.

Valerian was often used in “love potions” as it was thought to be an aphrodisiac. It was sown into sleeping pills and worn by young women as it was said that the men would follow the women like children.

Ancient Greeks would hang valerian in bundles in the window sills to ward off evil entities.

It was said that Hippocrates used Valerian to treat PTSD and hysterical emotions.


Flower Essence:

As a flower essence valerian is used to calm heat such as hot flashes, anxiousness, sweating. It is also used to build up self-esteem and self-worth. This is a great essence for calming and focuses during meditation as well.





Valerian has been a welcomed addition to my garden. This perennial stands tall and proud in the garden, is low maintenance and has a delicate look with a sturdy base. I recommend add this herb to your flower, perennial, or herb garden. You won’t be disappointed in its simplistic beauty.

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