Valerian root, also known as setwall, all-heal, garden heliotrope, and simply valerian, has been used since ancient times to treat a variety of symptoms and conditions due to its strong sedative and anxiolytic effects. But,

Why Does Valerian Root Stink So Bad?

Valerian root stinks because it contains high amounts of a chemical called valeric acid, also known as pentanoic acid. This chemical compound has a very pungent smell that many people find off-putting.

In fact, most people find the smell of valeric acid, and as a result of that of valerian root, to be just as putrid and rancid as that of spoiled milk or even pig feces.

But don’t let the potent stink get in the way of this root’s proven health benefits. Let’s learn just what valerian root is and how its compounds can help you with a variety of different issues.

What is Valerian Root?

Valerian is a perennial herbaceous plant that originated in the damp and shady thickets of Europe and Eastern Asia. The plant is characterized by its pinkish-white flowers crowned with feathery filaments.

Valerian is a smelly perennial herbaceous plant

The entire plant gives a sweet/sickly odor (which drives cats insane, much like catnip), but it is the root that possesses the world-renowned therapeutic properties and offensive smell.

Valerian root has been proven to have sedative, anxiolytic, and relaxing properties. 

Various trials have shown that valerian root has the ability to significantly improve the quality of sleep and reduce the symptoms of insomnia.

Additionally, thanks to its muscle relaxant properties, valerian root can be used to relieve muscle tension such as that caused by torticollis or lower back injury.

Aside from a sleeping aid, Valerian root is also commonly used to treat the following conditions:

  • Migraine
  • Fatigue 
  • Stomach cramps
  • Anxiety and depression 
  • Premenstrual syndrome symptoms
  • Menopause symptoms
Valerian root will help you fall asleep

How Do You Take Valerian Root?

If valerian root supplements sound like a thing of wonder, welcome to the club. Millions of people regularly use valerian root to treat and reduce the symptoms of a vast number of varied conditions. But, how are you supposed to take it?

Valerian root is widely sold in capsule form.

Most experts agree that the correct dosage is between 300 to 600 mg per day for the treatment of insomnia.

The recommended dosage for reducing the symptoms of anxiety and related conditions is around 200 mg three times per day.

However, these products are not regulated by the FDA and, therefore, should be taken with care and after thorough research.

You can look towards valerian root tea for an all-natural alternative to the processed capsule form. The only downside of natural valerian root tea is that awful smell.

How Do You Deal With the Stink of a Natural Valerian Root?

The outright nasty smell of natural valerian root makes consuming it in herbal tea form a bit tricky for most people. Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to minimize the rank smell.

Use citrus to cover up the smell of valerian root tea

Steep your tea with other strong aromatics to mask the smell. For example, things like lavender, lemon balm, lychee, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, and raspberries, can provide your tea with a pleasant and fragrant scent that will make consuming valerian root much easier. 

Are There Any Side Effects To Valerian Root?

Valerian root is mostly safe for human consumption and the benefits far outweigh the risks. Nevertheless, some people do experience mild side effects after consuming valerian root for therapeutic purposes.

The most common side effects are:

  • Mild headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Upset stomach

Surprisingly, a very small percentage of people also experience sleeplessness as a side effect of valerian root. For most, the opposite is true. Valerian root can make you drowsy. So if you are new to taking it you may want to try it at bedtime and avoid driving until you know how it affects you.

Some interactions have also been observed between valerian root and other drugs. For example, people who are currently taking other sleep aids, or benzodiazepines should avoid taking valerian root.

You should also avoid valerian root when consuming alcohol and other narcotics, as their effects can be compounded by the valerian root.

If you have any questions about the viability of valerian root to help you, contact a medical professional that knows your situation.