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Valerian is a plant widely used in traditional, complementary and alternative medicine, with pharmacologically active components that affect the central nervous system. Valeriana officialis is present in some official Northern European formularies, although it is most often used in herbal medicine.[1] Valerian is used for its sleep-inducing and anti-anxiety effects.

It has several types of components that affect receptors in the central nervous system, although some are unstable, and there is per-plant variability:[2]

  • Volatile oil containing:
    • Bornyl acetate, a monoterpene
    • Valerenic acid, a sesquiterpene, which has been used as the basis of standardization in European preparations. It has been found to be quite unstable and thus difficult to use for a reference
    • Other variable terpenes
  • Aqueous extract of root


  1. Houghton PJ (May 1999), "(Abstract) The scientific basis for the reputed activity of Valerian.", J Pharm Pharmacol 51 (5): 505-512
  2. Valerian, Drugs Information Online