Herb: American Valerian
Latin name: Valeriana sitchensis
Family: Valerianaceae (Valerian Family)
Medicinal use of American Valerian:Valerian is a well-known and frequently used medicinal herb that has a long and proven history of efficacy. It is noted especially for its effect as a tranquilliser and nervine, particularly for those people suffering from nervous overstrain. Valerian has been shown to encourage sleep, improve sleep quality and reduce blood pressure. It is also used internally in the treatment of painful menstruation, cramps, hypertension, irritable bowel syndrome etc. It should not be prescribed for patients with liver problems. Externally, it is used to treat eczema, ulcers and minor injuries. The root is antispasmodic, carminative, diuretic, hypnotic, powerfully nervine, sedative and stimulant. The active ingredients are called valepotriates, research has confirmed that these have a calming effect on agitated people, but are also a stimulant in cases of fatigue. The roots of 2 year old plants are harvested in the autumn once the leaves have died down and are used fresh or dried. The fresh root is about 3 times as effective as roots dried at 40°C, whilst temperatures above 82°C destroy the active principle in the root. Use with caution, see the notes above on toxicity.
Description of the plant:
Habitat of the herb:Moist open or wooded places at mid or upper elevations in the mountains, often in wet meadows.
Edible parts of American Valerian:Root - cooked. A strong flavour, it needs to be steamed for 24 hours. Seed - parched.
Other uses of the herb:The dried root has been used as an incense.
Propagation of American Valerian:Seed - sow spring in a cold frame and only just cover the seed because it requires light for germination. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and plant out into their permanent positions in the summer if sufficient growth has been made. If the plants are too small to plant out, grow them on in the greenhouse or frame for their first winter and plant them out early in the following summer. Division in spring. Larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found that it is best to pot up smaller divisions and grow them on in light shade in a greenhouse or cold frame until they are growing away well. Plant them out in the summer or the following spring.
Cultivation of the herb:Moist open or wooded places at mid or upper elevations in the mountains, often in wet meadows.
Known hazards of Valeriana sitchensis:Some caution is advised with the use of this plant. At least one member of the genus is considered to be poisonous raw and V. officinalis is a powerful nervine and sedative that can become habit-forming.
Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.