American Valerian (Valeriana sitchensis)

Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
American Valerian
Valeriana sitchensis
Valerianaceae

The dried root has been used as an incense[257].

  • Medicinal Use

    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[4, 222]. Valerian has been shown to encourage sleep, improve sleep quality and reduce blood pressure[254]. It is also used internally in the treatment of painful menstruation, cramps, hypertension, irritable bowel syndrome etc[238, 254]. It should not be prescribed for patients with liver problems[238]. Externally, it is used to treat eczema, ulcers and minor injuries[238].

    The root is antispasmodic, carminative, diuretic, hypnotic, powerfully nervine, sedative and stimulant[4, 7, 9, 14, 21, 46, 147, 165, 192, 218]. 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[222]. The roots of 2 year old plants are harvested in the autumn once the leaves have died down and are used fresh or dried[4, 9, 238]. The fresh root is about 3 times as effective as roots dried at 40¡ (the report does not specify if this is centigrade or fahrenheit), whilst temperatures above 82¡ destroy the active principle in the root[240]. Use with caution[21, 238], see the notes above on toxicity.

  • Edible Use

    Root – cooked. A strong flavour, it needs to be steamed for 24 hours[172].

    Seed – parched[172].

  • Cautionary Notes

    Some caution is advised with the use of this plant. At least one member of the genus is considered to be poisonous raw[161] and V. officinalis is a powerful nervine and sedative that can become habit-forming.

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – sow spring in a cold frame and only just cover the seed because it requires light for germination[200]. 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.
We have very little information on this species and do not know if it will be hardy in Britain, though judging by its native range it should succeed outdoors in many parts of the country. The following notes are based on the general needs of the genus. Succeeds in ordinary garden soil[1]. Dioecious, male and female plants must be grown if seed is required.
Western N. America – Alaska to California.

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.