Valeriana officinalis L


It’s a herbaceous, vivacious plant of 30-130 cm in height depending on the variety. It has a short rhizome with fibrous yellowish-white roots and some underground stolons with many nods and internods. The yellowish gray to light brownish-gray rhizome is cone or cylinder shaped of 50 mm in length and 30 mm in diameter; the base is elongated or compressed with several roots which cover it completely, the tip usually has a concave scar originated from the aerial parts, only rarely it has the bases of the stems. In the longitudinal section, the pith presents a central cavity with transversal partitions. The roots are numerous, almost cylindrical, of the same color as the rhizome, from 1mm to 3mm in diameter, and often with more than 100 mm in length. It has few secondary thread-like and fragile roots. The fracture is short. The runners have prominent nodes separated by longitudinally striated internodes, each one from 20 mm to 50 mm in length with fibrous fracture. The year-long, straight, grooved and fistulous stems are hollow and with a lot of hairs, especially in the nodes. Pinnatisect, opposite, petiolate, hairy leaves on the underside, of 5-12 cm in length, with 13-21 lanceolate segments, arranged in a rose in the base and opposite in the stem. The lower ones are petiolated while the upper ones are sessile. The flowers are white or pink, joint in a corymb inflorescence which is at the tip of the stems and appear in the second year of the growing in spring. The corolla is funnel-shaped and has in its base a side shoot in which collects nectar. The stamens are 3 with prominent white anthers which go out of the corolla. The fruit is hairless, pyriform and some flattened, inside there is an empty cavity (opulus sterile). At the top of the fruit there is a small funnel with several feathery filaments (pappus) which help it to the dispersal. It belongs to the family of Valerianaceae.

It is a perennial plant which grows well in Europe, North America and northern Asia. Valerian can be found wild in moist montane forests, marshy meadows and riverbanks, from the lowest levels up to 2000 m of altitude, preferably in the North of the Peninsula  and mountain systems of the Center. It is also grown intensively in the countryside for its excellent medicinal properties. Sometimes, it is usually found in dry and arid lands, and under the therapeutic point of view, valerian gathered in dry, arid lands is richest in active principles.

Flowering takes place in spring or summer, depending on weather conditions. For medicinal purposes, rhizome with its roots are gathered in autumn, for the plants of the year and coldest or mountain areas and in spring for the oldest ones and those of warmest areas. It is recommend to use only those exemplaries which are at least two years old and  to pull up the plant before flowering, that is when nutritious juices of the rhizome and root are mobilized into flower-buds. As the root is dried, offers a distinguishing unpleasant aroma.

Part used

The root, rhizome and stolons.


  • Nervous system disorders: neurosis and neurasthenia, anxiety, nervousness, stress, hysterical crisis, nervous depression, panic attacks, hypochondria, migraines or tension headaches, intellectual exhaustion, delirium tremens, vertigo, etc.
  • Sleep disorders: chronic insomnia, occasional difficulty to fall asleep. 
  • Cardiac disorders are caused by nervous disorders: tachycardia, extrasystoles, arrhythmias, arterial hypertension.
  • Dysmenorrhea, painful premenstrual syndrome.
  • Asthma, bronchitis, nervous cough.
  • Abdominal colics.
  • Somatic manifestations of excess autonomic tone (neurovegetative dystonia): palpitations, irritable bowel syndrome, intestinal, throat and esophagus spasms, nervous gastritis, etc.
  • It helps in the treatment of infantile convulsions and epilepsy (treatment directed by the specialist).
  • Rheumatic pains, neuralgia, bruises, myalgia, muscle contractures, etc.
  • Moderator of appetite.
  • Occasionally it has been part of the programs used to control addictions to antidepressants or benzodiazepines.


Real Farmacopea Española, Suplemento 2001.

Plantas Medicinales.  Thérapeutique-Toxicité. Christiane Vigneau. Masson, Paris 1985.

Herbal Drugs and Phytopharmaceuticals. Norman Grainger Bisset (Ed). Max Wichtl. CRC Press.1994.

Plantas Medicinales y Drogas Vegetales para infusión y tisana. Edición española a cargo de: Salvador Cañogueral, Roser Vila, Max Wichtl.1998.

Plantas Medicinales. Margarita Fernandez y Ana Nieto. Ed Universidad de Navarra. EUNSA 1982.

100 Plantes Medicinales. Max Rombi. Romart 1998.

Pharmacognosy, Phytochemistry, Medicinal Plants. Jean Bruneton. Lavoisier Publishing.

Fitoterapia Aplicada. J.B. Peris, G. Stübing, B.Vanaclocha. Colegio Oficial de Farmacéuticos de Valencia 1995.

Fitoterapia: Vademecum de Prescripción. Plantas Medicinales. Colaboran: Asociación española de médicos naturistas. Colegio Oficial de Farmacéuticos de Vizcaya.

Botanical Influences on IIIness. Melvyn R. Werbach, M.D. Michael T. Murray, N.D.

Plantas Medicinales. El Dioscórides Renovado. Pio Font Quer.

Guía de Campo de las Flores de Europa. Oleg Polunin. Ediciones Omega S.A. Barcelona, 1977.

Plantes Médicinales des régions tempérees. L. Bézanger-Beauquesne et M. Pinkas. M. Torch et F.Trotin Maloine S.A. Editeur. Paris 1980.

Farmacognosia. 2ª Edición. Jean Bruneton. Editorial Acribia, S.A. 2001.

Bulletin officiel Nº 90/22 bis. Ministère des Affaires Sociales et de la Solidarité.

French Public Health Code.

PDR for Herbal Medicines. Medical Economics Company, Montvale. Second Edition, 2000; pp 783-6.

Carretero E. Terpenos: Iridoides y sesquiterpenos. Panorama Actual Medicamento 2000; 24(239): 1115-9. 

Blumenthal M, Goldberg A, Brinckmann J. Herbal Medicine, Expanded Commission E Monographs. Integrative Medicine Communications, Newton. First Edition, 2000; pp 394-400.

Benigni, R; Capra, C; Cattorini, P. Piante Medicinali. Chimica, Farmacologia e Terapia. Milano: Inverni & Della Beffa, 1962, pp. 1649-72.

Bézanger-Beauquesne, L; Pinkas, M; Torck, M. Les Plantes dans la Therapeutique Moderne. 2ª. Paris: Maloine, 1986, pp. 431-3.

Bézanger-Beauquesne, L; Pinkas, M; Torck, M; Trotin, F. Plantes Médicinales des Regions Tempérées. Paris: Maloine, 1980, pp. 366-7.

Bruneton, J. Elementos de Fitoquímica y Farmacognosia. Zaragoza: Acribia, 1991, pp. 277-9.

D'Arcy, PF. Adverse reactions and interactions with herbal medicines. Part II. Drug interactions. Adverse Drug React Toxicol Rev, 1993; 12 (3): 147-162.

European Scientific Cooperative On Phytotherapy (E.S.C.O.P.). Monographs on the medicinal uses of plant drugs. Fascicle IV: Valerianae radix. July, 1997.

James, A; Duke, Ph D. Handbook of Medicinal Herbs. 5ª. Boca Ratón, Florida: CRC Press, 1987, pp. 503-4; 523; 568.

Lastra, JJ; Bachiller, LI. Plantas Medicinales en Asturias y la Cornisa Cantábrica. Gijón: Ediciones Trea, 1997, pp. 264-5.

Paris, RR; Moyse, M. Précis de Matière Médicale. Tome III. Paris: Masson, 1971, pp. 386-95.

Peris, JB; Stübing, G; Vanaclocha, B. Fitoterapia Aplicada. Valencia: M.I. Colegio Oficial de Farmacéuticos, 1995, pp. 488-90.

Real Farmacopea Española. Madrid: Ministerio de Sanidad y Consumo, 1997, pp. 1866-7.

Rivera, D; Obón, C. La Guía Incafo de las Plantas Útiles y Venenosas de la Península Ibérica y Baleares. Madrid: Incafo, 1991, pp.148; 946-8.

Samuelsson, G. Drugs of Natural Origin. A Textbook of Pharmacognosy. Stockholm: Swedish Pharmaceutical Press, 1992, pp.133; 149.

Simón, R. Guía de Farmacología para Farmacéuticos y Médicos. Madrid: A Madrid Vicente, 1993, p. 29.

Trease, GE; Evans, WCh. Farmacognosia. México D.F.: Interamericana--MacGraw-Hill, 1991, p.568.

Van Hellemont, J. Compendium de Phytotherapie. Bruxelles: Association Pharmaceutique Belge, 1986, pp. 417-9.

Villar, L; Palacín, JM; Calvo, C; Gómez, D; Montserrat, G. Plantas Medicinales del Pirineo Aragonés y demás tierrras oscenses. 2ª. Huesca: Diputación Provincial, 1992, pp. 272; 287.

Wichtl, M. Herbal Drugs and Phytopharmaceutical. A Handbook for Practice on a Scientific basis. Stuttgart: Medpharm Scientific Publishers, 1994, pp. 513-6.

Related products