Revista Colombiana de Psiquiatría
Print version ISSN 0034-7450
MEDINA ORTIZ, Oscar; SANCHEZ-MORA, Nora; FRAGUAS HERRAEZ, David and ARANGO LOPEZ, Celso. Use of Valerian in the Long-Term Treatment of Insomnia. rev.colomb.psiquiatr. [online]. 2008, vol.37, n.4, pp. 614-626. ISSN 0034-7450.
Introduction: Valerian has been used for centuries to induce drowsiness due to its anxiolytic properties. It was fi rst described being used in ancient cultures, i.e., Greece and China. Nowadays, even though it is not officially approved by the US Food and Drug Administration Agency (FDA) as a treatment for insomnia, it is widely used in different latitudes for such a purpose. Objective: To carry out an extensive review in order to establish the levels of effectiveness of valerian in the long term treatment of patients suffering from sleeplessness and consider it an alternative to the use of benzodiazepines and benzodiazepinic agonists. Results: There are very few controlled studies on the effects of valerian. Nonetheless, the available data might indicate that the use of valerian helps to restructure sleep architecture after several weeks of treatment and helps to improve sleep quality. There are also papers suggesting that valerian plays a key role in diminishing stress and anxiety in cases where these conditions disturb normal sleep patterns and is useful in discontinuing long treatments based on benzodiazepines. Conclusions: The key advantage of valerian is its capability to reduce the slow wave sleep latency and increase its percentage without causing relevant secondary effects or dependence. Still, we do not have sufficient data from long term controlled studies in order to support conclusive results.
Keywords : Sleep initiation; maintenance disorders; REM sleep; valerian.