Valerian: Who's this?
The queen of the Phyto Superheroes is here, fascinating and more hypnotic than the stealthy step of a cat, so much so to enchant cats themselves. Who's this? She’s called Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) and she is an angiosperm, a perennial flowering plant whose root, the rhizome, contains highly effective essential oils, alkaloids and flavonoids. The fresh root is odorless but, once dried, releases the isovalerianic acid. Her name derives from the Latin valere, that means “being strong”, “being worthy”, “having a good health”, but the Valerian is also know like “Herb of the cats”, thanks to her abilities to enchant and fascinate cats. Therefore, she is a strong superhero, but persuasive at the same time.
When should we take valerian? In all states of anxiety and nervousness, palpitations, seizures, insomnia, stress, headaches, stomach cramps and colitis, motor agitation and heart pains caused by nervous agitation. You know, when things get tough, we need her.
Valerian works with her superpowers, by initiating an hypnotic and spasmolytic action, soothing and sedating us. Sweet and persuasive, she reduces aggressiveness and helps making nervous dogs more manageable. Her abilities are such that this plant, or better, this Phytonutrient Superhero, has been included in the official pharmacopoeia for the preparation of drugs.
Valerian is among the most gossiped and studied plants over the years, so that her traces in history are numerous, along with studies that have seen her as protagonist. Her first official appearance, that we have evidenced, dates back to the tenth century. Since then, all researchers could not stop talking about her. So, we pretend to gather here, with us, the eminences of the field and give them a voice, a timeless interview.
St. Hildegard: “I recommend her as a tranquilizer and soporific”. Pliny the Elder: “Back in my days, I recommended her as an antispasmodic, and analgesic medication for epilepsy.” Cazin: “Do not let’s forget to use her for the diabetes mellitus!” Dioscorides: “I would point to the gentlemen the diuretic function and also invite them to consider her as an antidote against poisons”. Galen:“Do we want to talk about her usefulness as a decongestant?” Scopoli, Chomel, Sauvages (in chorus): “We have treated several epilepsy cases with her root!“ Aliberto: “Of course! Since the time when Fabio Colonna was affected by a severe epilepsy and Valerian helped him, she was religiously considered as a specific sovereign of this function.”
However, Valerian has often left words to actions. Once the first settlers came to America, they discovered that several tribes indulged in using Valerian, pulverizing her roots for the treatment of wounds. During World War I, she was used to treat nervous breakdowns of civilians and soldiers caused by artillery bombardments. She got her first official accolade in 1820, when she was inserted in the USA’s Pharmacopeia as a tranquilizer. Valerian, never tired of bringing her charm in history and among men, leaves her virtues being decanted even in fairy tales and fables. She was hailed by no less than the Brothers Grimm in their "Pied Piper of Hamelin", also known as the "Pan Piper" or "The Rat-Catcher of Hamelin", where the main character enchanted mice and children with his flute and valerian.