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Quitting marijuana wouldn’t be so bad – if you could just find a way to fall asleep at night….

For many, insomnia is the worst of the marijuana withdrawal symptoms, and while you can turn to alcohol or valium/Xanax or other sleeping pills for relief, there is some risk that you’ll just switch one addiction for another.

If you can manage it, and especially if you’re doing this on your own without a doctor’s support, you’re probably better off avoiding adding new addictive substances as a way to manage your current addiction withdrawals.

But that doesn’t mean you have to just tough it out completely; there are more natural alternatives that may lack some of the potency of their prescription counterparts but make up for that lack of strength with a far greater safety profile.

Consider Valerian Root

The American Academy of Family Physicians endorses valerian root as a safe and well tolerated herbal treatment for mild insomnia1 and additionally, there is some limited evidence that it also works a mild anxiolytic (an anti anxiety medication).2

Valerian is a plant native to Europe and people have used valerian as medicine since the days of ancient Rome. The root of the plant contains medicinal compounds and so the root is generally pressed into a juice or freeze-dried into capsules for consumption.

Although valerian root has a long history of use scientists aren’t really sure how it works, exactly. They suspect that it increases GABA activity in the brain, similarly to anti anxiety drugs like Xanax and valium.

Evidence Supporting the Use of Valerian Root for Insomnia

There is anecdotal evidence for the use of valerian for insomnia and most but not all clinical studies have found that valerian root works better than placebo as an insomnia treatment.

  • Some studies have found that valerian works better than placebo against insomnia right away.
  • Some studies have found that valerian works better than placebo against insomnia, but that it takes a couple of weeks or more before effects are really noticed.
  • Some studies have not found valerian to be better than placebo3

Based on the available research evidence, the National institute of Health’s Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database lists valerian root as a possibly effective herbal medication.

Side Effects and Interactions

Valerian root is a very well tolerated herbal medicine. Side effects are rare, but in some cases the herb may cause stomach upset or headache. The long term effects of chronic valerian use remain unknown.

Because valerian root may interact with other medications you should talk to your doctor about its influence on other prescription and OTC medications.

  • It is not known to increase the effects of alcohol but it may increase the sedative properties of other tranquilizing drugs, like benzodiazepines, barbiturates, anesthetics and other CNS depressants.
  • It may influence the activity of other medications that are changed in the liver, such as Allegra, Sporanox, Halcion and others. This may increase experienced side effects.

 Basically, if you’re taking any other medications, it’s a very good idea to ask your doctor’s opinion on whether valerian root is a good fit for you.

Where to Buy Valerian Root

Buy Valerian root wherever you’d buy other herbal medications, such as in many drug stores or supplement shops.

References
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Page last updated Jun 06, 2012

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