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The Powerful Valerian Root Essential Oil: Benefits, Blends and Uses

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Valerian root essential oil may not be as much of a household name as say Lavender or Lemon, but it is one that should not be overlooked as a staple for your home wellness kit.

Let’s take a look at the background, science and history of Valerian root essential oil.


From the bottle, the aromatic profile of Valerian essential oil is woodsy, dry and slightly sweet. The fragrance is very calming and grounding to the body and mind. It’s musty  scent is one that people love or hate. Animals seem to resonate very well with this oil.

The scientific name of Valerian root essential oil is Valeriana officinalis.

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Valerian Root Essential Oil Uses

The valerian plant is native to Belgium and Croatia but now is found growing throughout North America and Asia. Young Living’s Valerian essential oil (where I buy 99% of my oils) is grown at their Balkan Botanical Farm in Bulgaria.

After careful harvesting, the plant root is steam distilled; the resulting essential oil contains the constituents bornyl acetate, camphene, alpha-fenchene, and alpha- and beta-pinene, limonene and valerenal.

Valerian contains a substance known as valerenic acid that researchers believe to affect gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors in the brain. Scientists believe that one of the major purposes of GABA is to control fear or relieve anxiety that is experienced when nerve cells are overexcited. This is the reason that Valerian root essential oil may act as a mild sedative and lower anxiety levels.

History of Valerian Root Essential Oil

Valerian root essential oil has been used for centuries. In the past several decades, it has been extensively studied for its relaxing properties.

The ancient Greeks and Romans used Valerian as a medicinal herb. In fact, Hippocrates described its properties, and Galen later used it as a remedy for insomnia. Greek physicians Dioscorides and, again, Galen, touted it as a remedy for poison.

In the Middle ages, it was used as a cure for epilepsy.

See below for a free printable PDF with Valerian Root Essential Oil Recipes

Even the Native Americans used it for healing wounds and ulcers, as well as a cough remedy.

Today, Valerian essential oil is used, most often, as a treatment for nervous disorders. However, Valerian essential oil benefits include much more than anxiety.

Valerian Root Essential Oil Benefits

Treats Sleep Disorders

One of the oldest and most researched benefits of Valerian essential oil is its ability to treat the symptoms of insomnia and improve the quality of sleep. The active components of Valerian oil, mentioned above, coordinate an ideal release of hormones as well as balancing the body’s cycles to stimulate restful, undisturbed sleep.

The GABA receptors in the brain are a neurotransmitter that sends chemical messages through the brain and nervous system. Its role is to inhibit or reduce the activity of neurons or nerve cells. Because of this GABA can cause a sedative effect – Valerian root oil has been shown to increase GABA levels in the brain which can in turn not only reduce the amount of time taken to fall asleep but can improve the quality of sleep too.

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A double blind study conducted by the Foellinge Health Centre in Sweden found that the effects of Valerian root essential oil on poor sleep were significant. 44 percent of the participants reported perfect sleep, while 89 percent reported improved sleep – none of this group reported any side effects either, including morning drowsiness.

Can Improve Gastrointestinal Health

Valerian essential oil has been shown to quickly ease upset stomachs and induce healthy bowel movements and urination. This helps to detoxify the body and improve the nutrient absorption of the gastrointestinal tract, thereby improving health in numerous ways. 

Lowers Anxiety and Depression

This is somewhat related to the previous benefit of Valerian and sleep issues, but Valerian essential oil is also widely used and studied for its effects on improving mood and reducing anxiety.

The same mechanism (GABA-related) of action that enables healthy sleep also helps to reduce the negative energy and chemicals in the body that can induce anxiety and stress.

The valerenic acid and valerenol contained in the Valerian root essential oil act as anti-anxiety agents, stabilizing the central nervous system. The improved GABA levels make it easier for the mind and body to relax, meaning Valerian root can also help to keep your stress levels down – significantly helping with daily stress management.

Several researcher and physicians have said that Valerian essential oil is a safe and natural alternative to prescription anxiety drugs, such as Xanax (alprazolam), Klonopin (clonazepam), Valium (diazepam), and Ativan (lorazepam) that act on GABA receptors.

A 2015 review from Harvard Medical School reports that of 12 traditional herbs used to treat anxiety (including hops, gotu kola, and gingko), Valerian essential oil was the “most promising candidate” for treating anxiety associated with bipolar disorder.

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Prevents Heart Palpitations

Several research studies have shown that Valerian root essential oil has been directly linked to a lower occurrence of heart palpitations. The constituents in Valerian oil interact with the acids and oils in your heart to stimulate a more normal metabolic rate and calm down erratic behavior of your cardiovascular system.

Regulates Blood Pressure

The same compounds that make Valerian root essential oil so helpful for stress and anxiety can also help the body to regulate its blood pressure. High blood pressure puts strain on the cardiovascular system and increases the chances of strokes and heart attacks. One noted study showed that ingesting Valerian essential oil can naturally reduce these risks.

Promotes Healthy Skin

Valerian essential oil, according to a publication in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, infuses the skin with a healthy blend of protective oils that protect against the development of wrinkles and also function as an antiviral barrier that helps keep you healthy. Valerian essential oil benefits extend to the skin and give you an unexpected tool in your beauty regimine.

Improves Cognitive Abilities

Lots of essential oils claim to improve cognitive ability, but Valerian essential oil has been used in this manner for year.It stimulates different areas of the brain and increases circulation, stimulating pathways that keep our brains fresh and active.

Students and elderly people consume Valerian root essential oil all over the world for increasing their academic performance, as well as to protect their memory and delay any cognitive disorders.

Reduces Pain, Relaxes Muscles and Menstrual Cramps

The relaxing nature of Valerian essential oil has made it popular for pregnant women and menstrual symptoms for many years. According to studies, It can reduce the severity and pain of menstrual cramps, as well as discomfort and pain during pregnancy.

It can effectively calm the severe uterine muscle contractions experienced by some women during menstruation. This was validated by a double-blind, randomised placebo controlled study from the Islamic Azad University in Iran.

Valerian essential oil also appears to work directly on the nervous system as a natural pain reliever. Researchers from “The Indian Journal of Experimental Biology” found that the whole extract and the isolated essential oil had a significant analgesic effect on rats. In addition to this, the essential oil increased the effectiveness of aspirin.

Can Reduce Hot Flashes

Valerian root oil may be helpful in reducing hot flashes that often affect women during menopause. The exact mechanism of action is unknown since Valerian root essential oil doesn’t appear to directly influence hormone levels.

However, A 2013 study from Iran involving 68 women with menopause reported that capsules containing Valerian essential oil, when taken three times a day, in 225-milligram doses for eight weeks, reduced the severity and frequency of hot flashes compared to a placebo and there were no notable side effects!

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How to Use Valerian Root Essential Oil

Valerian essential oil can be used topically or aromatically.

To use topically, simply apply on the back of the neck or on the bottoms of feet. You can also use it as a spa-like foot soak. Or add to your beauty routine (ideas below)

To use aromatically, sniff from the bottle, spray on a pillow or use in a diffuser.  You’ll find recipes for using Valerian essential oil aromatically below.

Valerian Root Essential Oil Blends

Relax Roller

  • 25 drops Valerian Essential Oil
  • 25 drops Cedarwood Essential Oil
  • 25 drops Vetiver essential oil
  • 25 drops Geranium essential oil
  • Carrier oil of your choice

Add essential oils to the roller bottle and top with carrier oil. Gently shake to mix.  Roll on wrists, jawline or bottom of feet.

Fabulous Foot Soak

  • 3 drops Valerian essential oil
  • 5 drops of Tea Tree essential oil
  • 1 TBS carrier oil
  • 1 tablespoon of salt

Add all to warm water. Mix well and soak your feet in this luxurious bath for 15 minutes.

Other topical uses for Valerian essential oil

  • Add Valerian essential oils to your favorite skin-care products for a natural, yet bold scent
  • Add 1 drop of Cedarwood essential oil and 1 drop of Valerian essential oil to a pump bottle of body cream or moisturizer before applying to dry skin
  • Create a homemade dry-skin face serum with 1 drop each of Valerian, Rosemary, and Lavender essential oils, and a few drops of jojoba—or your favorite light carrier oil. Rub into your face at night to help alleviate dry skin.

DIY Nighty Night Pillow Spray

  • 1 oz Witch Hazel 
  • 1 oz Distilled Water (OR substitute this with an extra ounce of Witch Hazel to lengthen the shelf life)
  • 10 drops Valerian essential oil
  • 10 drops Bergamot essential oil
  • 10 drops Frankincense essential oil
  • 2oz Glass Spray Bottle 
  • Funnel

Spray on your pillow or pajamas before going to bed for a relaxing and restful night’s sleep.

Click the image below for a free 3-page printable of Valerian essential oil blends.

Valerian Root Essential Oil Diffuser Blends

Brimming with Bliss (from Young Living) Diffuser Blend

  • 4 drops Valerian essential oil
  • 3 drops Pine essential oil
  • 3 drops Orange essential oil

Sleepy Time Diffuser Blend

  • 2 drops Valerian essential oil
  • 2 drops Lavender essential oil
  • 1 drops Cedarwood essential oil

R&R Diffuser Blend

Bedtime Bliss Diffuser Blend

Light’s Out Diffuser Blend

  • 2 drops Lavender essential oil
  • 2 drops Vetiver essential oil
  • 2 drops Orange essential oil
  • 2 drops Valerian essential oil
  • 1 drop Cedarwood essential oil

The benefits of Valerian essential oil are numerous and varied. From helping with sleep to relieving stress, this versatile plant is a natural solution for many ailments. Of the Valerian root essential oil benefits that we’ve covered, which one surprised you the most? For me it was how effective it can be in treating anxiety! If you want more information about any of these oils or their uses, email me at [email protected] I’m happy to do a free consult.

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