Valeriana officianalis

Origin: The dried root of the perennial herb valerian.

Dosage: Capsules, tablets, tincture, softgel or tea; 300 mg to 500 mg of valerian extract daily (maximum dose is 15 g of root per day). For insomnia and muscle soreness, take 1 teaspoon of liquid extract diluted in water or a 400 mg to 450 mg capsule, tablet or softgel 30 to 45 minutes before bedtime or as needed. For a milder effect, drink a cup of valerian tea before bed. Avoid powdered valerian root.

Claims: Treats insomnia and eases pain; has antispasmodic and sedative effects.

What we know: Valerian works as a mild sedative and sleep agent, but it takes two to three weeks to see effect. No known effects on muscle or joint pain and arthritis

Studies: A randomized, placebo-controlled trial of 184 adults showed two tablets per night for 28 nights produced significant improvements in sleep and quality of life.

Valerian may cause headache, excitability, uneasiness and insomnia. Do not drive or operate machinery while taking it, and do not take with alcohol, barbiturates, tranquilizers or other sedative-type drugs or herbs. Do not use valerian longer than one month, or if you have liver disease.