The efficacy and tolerance of a valerian tablet (Valeriana officinalis) was evaluated against placebo in the treatment of insomnia (E.U. Vorbach and K.H. Arnold). This randomized, double-blind study was conducted on 121 patients with diagnosed insomnia not due to organic causes. Patients were studied over four weeks and the daily dosage of valerian extract was 600 mg (equivalent to about 2400 mg of dried root and rhizome) taken in the evening.

Practitioners rated sleep improvement higher following valerian therapy than after placebo. Patients also preferred valerian, and at the 28-day mark there was a significant improvement in the feeling of being rested after sleep for the valerian treatment. Sleep quality also improved significantly in the valerian group. In both the valerian and the placebo group the rate of side-effects was 3.3%, and the drop-out rate was also 3.3% for both groups.


A number of clinical trials found that aqueous extract of valerian improved sleep quality and latency in insomniacs. However, this is the first clinical trial to demonstrate the efficacy of an alcohol-water extract in tablet form. It is also the first clinical trial on valerian for some time. Hopefully, many others will now follow. Note that the dosage used was reasonably high, and that the paradoxical stimulation which valerian can induce in some patients was not observed at this high dose.

The British Journal of Phytotherapy.

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