Valerian root has been used for centuries for its medicinal purposes. An oil contained in the root is the part of the plant used for making herbal remedies. Native to varied regions of Asia and throughout Europe, valerian root was originally used primarily as a remedy for insomnia, and was typically taken in the form of tea. In more recent years, it has been used in herbal supplements to help with insomnia and anxiety and to ease some of the symptoms suffered by women during pre- and post-menopause such as hot flashes. Gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA, is the compound in Valerian that is primarily responsible for its medicinal purposes, but the root also contains isovaleramide, and iridoids.
Valerian root contains GABA, and the other compounds in the root seem to amplify the effects of GABA on the body. Gamma-aminobutyric acid is a nuerotransmitter of the nervous system with inhibitive qualities. This means that rather than acting as a stimulant to the nervous system, it works as a calming agent instead. When the body is in a normal state, it acts as a mild sedative, and when the body is in an excited state, GABA works to stabilize the nervous system. This helps to neutralize the excitability to bring the body to a more calm state, and as such, the neurotransmitter is important for numerous functions.
Many women experience insomnia pre- and post-menopause. The GABA in valerian root acts as a mild sedative to help calm down the brain and the rest of the body to promote relaxation, followed by sleep. GABA also works as an anti-anxiety ingredient, which can help to relieve anxiety and stress in women when it is taken regularly. GABA is also believed to reduce seizure activity in the brain as well, as it calms brain waves. GABA is also beneficial because it acts as a mild muscle relaxant as well, which helps to prevent cramping in the body during menstruation.
In addition to GABA, the other compounds in valerian root work together to benefit women’s health. It has often been used to treat nausea and stomach aches due to various causes, and the muscle relaxant properties make it calming for the stomach and esophagus. Valerian root has also been found to be beneficial to women who suffer from migraines or other headaches, particularly with those that are pre-menstrual, along with helping to prevent cramps during menstruation. This may be due to numerous factors, including the muscle relaxant properties of valerian root, which may have an effect on headaches caused by stress.
Because of its calming effect on the nervous system, it has been found to be beneficial for some women suffering from arthritis and other types of chronic pain. Although it does not actually act as an analgesic, it helps to relax muscles and the brain in order to relax the body in spite of pain. Because muscles aren’t tensed, this works to lessen the amount of pain felt in the body as a whole in some cases.
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