How to Use Valerian Root


The use of valerian root for medicinal reasons is recorded in history by the Greek physician Dioscorides, who proscribed it for a wide variety of disorders. Commonly, valerian root has been used in alternative medicine to treat anxiety and sleeplessness, gaining the nickname "nature's valium." Valerian is easy to establish in the garden, the tall white flowered plants adding interest and beauty. Valerian root is most often used in tincture or capsule form.

To Make Capsules

Step 1

Wash the root under cold, running water. Use a stiff vegetable brush to remove all traces of dirt.

Step 2

Chop the root into 1- to 2-inch pieces. Place the pieces on a cookie sheet in a single layer.

Step 3

Preheat your oven to its lowest setting. Place the cookie sheet in the oven, keeping the oven door cracked approximately 1 inch.

Step 4

Allow the root to dry in the oven overnight.

Step 5

Place the dried root in a food processor or spice grinder and process until the root is a fine powder.

Step 6

Fill medicine capsules, available at any health food stores, with the powdered root.

Step 7

Place the capsules in a dark colored jar and store in a cool, dry place.

To Make a Tincture

Step 1

Wash the valerian root under cold running water, using a stiff vegetable brush to remove dirt and debris from the root.

Step 2

Chop the root into 1-inch pieces and place them in a quart jar.

Step 3

Cover the root with vodka and secure the lid on the jar. Use the cheapest vodka available.

Step 4

Place the jar in a dark cabinet and allow the tincture to seep for 60 to 90 days.

Step 5

Strain the tincture from the jar and fill amber or other dark colored bottles with the liquid. Cap and store in a cool, dry place.

Tips and Warnings

  • Consult with your primary health care provider before taking valerian or any other herbal medicines.

Things You'll Need

  • Stiff vegetable brush Knife Quart jar with lid Vodka Strainer Amber bottles with lids Cookie sheet Food processor or spice grinder Empty medicine capsules


  • "Healing Wise"; Susun S. Weed and Durga Bernhard; 1989
  • "The Herb Book: The Complete and Authoritative Guide to More Than 500 Herbs"; John B. Lust; 2001
  • Colorado State University: Valerian Root: Herbal Valium? (PDF)
  • University of Michigan Health System: Alternative Medicine--Valerian
Keywords: valerian plant, valerian herb, valerian root use

About this Author

G. K. Bayne is a freelance writer, currently writing for Demand Studios where her expertise in back-to-basics, computers and electrical equipment are the basis of her body of work. Bayne began her writing career in 1975 and has written for Demand since 2007.