Dealing with sleep troubles during your pregnancy? If so, you’re not alone. At least 50 percent of pregnant women report having poor sleep quality due to the changes in hormones, pregnancy aches and pains, or just general discomfort.
Although our Organic Sleepy Body Lotion can help ease aches and tension for a better night’s sleep, you may be wondering what other natural remedies are safe to take.
Valerian root is a popular natural herb used to improve sleep and ease stress and tension. But is it safe to take during pregnancy? Let’s find out.
What Is Valerian Root?
Valerian root is a tall, flowering grassland plant that is used for medical purposes. It grows wild in grasslands throughout North America, Asia, and Europe and produces different colored flowers in the summer.
It is a common ingredient that was used in ancient Greece and Rome to ease sleep troubles, nervousness, trembling, head and neck tension, and stress.
It is still widely used today to help support sleep disorders, relieve tension, ease stomach discomfort and menstrual cramps, and help with feelings of stress and poor mental health.
While there are over two hundred species of the herb, the one that is most commonly used is V. officinalis. The stems and roots of the V. officinalis plant contain medicinal properties and are used as ingredients in herbal products. For the most part, only the effects of V. officinalis roots have been studied.
Valerian root often comes in the form of powder or tinctures, and many people drink it in tea. It has a strong unpleasant smell, so it is often used with other herbs, like passionflower, hops, or lemon balm to help mask the scent.
How Does Valerian Root Work?
Researchers have not found a definite answer as to how valerian root promotes better sleep health and eases tension. One working hypothesis is that it subtly increases gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) levels in the brain, which can help produce a calming effect in the body and help with insomnia.
Will Valerian Root Help You Sleep Better?
Valerian root is considered to be milder than sleeping pills, but more potent than other herbs that have sedative effects, like hops or skullcap. It is also considered to be non-addictive, which can make it safer to use than certain prescribed medications or sleeping pills.
However, valerian root is known to induce drowsiness, making it an effective remedy against insomnia. It seems to work best after taking it for two or more weeks, but experts differ on how often you’re supposed to take it.
What Are The Other Benefits of Valerian Root?
Although the most studied benefit of valerian root is its ability to help promote sleep, here are some possible benefits to consider:
- Valerian root is believed to help reduce hot flashes in menopausal and postmenopausal women.
- It is believed to help improve physical, emotional, and behavioral symptoms in people who experience premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
- Valerian root is also believed to help restless leg syndrome.
Researchers are still exploring valerian and the other potential health benefits besides promoting calmness and relaxation.
Is It Safe To Use Valerian Root While Pregnant?
There is a lot of debate about whether valerian root is safe to use during pregnancy. While there have been many studies on the benefits of V. officinalis, there isn’t much research on the effects of this herb on pregnant women.
A 2007 study on rats determined that valerian root most likely does not affect the developing baby, but these aren’t human studies. As such, we just don’t have enough evidence at the moment to prove that valerian root is safe to use during pregnancy.
While studies are still underway, it is better to be safe than sorry and avoid using valerian root.
What Are Other Alternatives To Help Promote Sleep?
Consider lifestyle habits and see if there are any possible changes we can make to help combat sleep trouble. It’s normal to experience stress and tension or excitement when you’re about to become a mother, so developing techniques to make you more relaxed at night could also be a helpful tool.
There are additional steps we can take to help manage sleep disturbances during pregnancy. For example:
- Set the mood – Create a calm, relaxing environment and a comfortable temperature to help encourage sleep.
- Stay active – Follow regular physical activity during pregnancy.
- Prevent heartburn – Eat small, frequent meals and avoid eating three hours before bedtime.
- Avoid caffeine – Steer clear of caffeine, especially coffee and soda after 3 PM.
- Dim Blue Lights – Opt for blue light filtering screen covers to help reduce the amount of blue light reaching the eyes.
It can be extremely frustrating to not get enough sleep or rest, especially when you are pregnant. Talking to your doctor is helpful when it comes to finding what solution is best for you, whether that’s herbal remedies, prescribed medications, or lifestyle changes.
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Already tried these alternatives and still have trouble with sleep? With over 78% of women struggling with sleep during their pregnancy, it can be hard to rest for more than a few hours at a time.
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Pregnancy & Sleep: Tips, Sleep Positions, & Issues | Sleep Foundation
A developmental toxicity-screening test of valerian | PubMed NCBI
Skullcap - LiverTox | NCBI Bookshelf
Effects of valerian consumption during pregnancy on cortical volume and the levels of zinc and copper in the brain tissue of mouse fetus | NCBI