Muscle relaxation is essential for not just our physical health, but also emotional well-being and relieving discomfort caused by tense muscles. There are different ways to relax our muscles, from stretching to taking a massage. But can a herb and a natural supplement like Valerian root work as muscle relaxant?
The answer is that Valerian root can indirectly promote muscle relaxation by reducing anxiety and emotional stress. It works through GABA, a brain chemical connected to relaxation and sleepiness. Valerian Root alone might not be enough to produce an effect where you see substantial benefits, but in theory at least, yes, it’s a muscle relaxant.
Valerian Root’s Compounds and Bioactivities
Valerian Root, also known as Valeriana officinalis, is a flowering plant from Europe and parts of Asia used as a remedy for anxiety, insomnia, and digestive upset. It contains molecules like valerenic acid, which contribute to its medical properties.
The way it may contribute to muscle relaxation is by “depressing” the central nervous system (CNS), or in other words, calming the CNS down, which can indirectly reduce muscle tension and promote a state of ease within the muscular system.1
Valerian root has sedative and anxiolytic effects. Its relaxant properties come from the way it interacts with your brain’s neurotransmitters, such as GABA, an inhibitory neurotransmitter that calms nerve impulses. This may result in better sleep as well as enhanced brain performance as a knock-on benefit.
While Valerian root’s calming effects are somewhat well-known in the scientific community, its effectiveness on muscle relaxation lacks human studies. The majority of the research has focused on its ability to reduce anxiety and promote sleep.23
Dosage for Muscle Relaxation
Since there is no human evidence of Valerian root directly relaxing the muscular system, the dosage for this purpose would be the same as for using Valerian as a general relaxant and sleep enhancer:
- 300-600mg of Valerian root extract or 0.3-3g of powdered Valerian root
While I can’t find any direct evidence between Valerian root and muscle relaxation, its ability to reduce anxiety and promote emotional relaxation can indirectly relax your muscles as well.
Tense muscles are often linked to stress and anxiety. Therefore, by alleviating these conditions, Valerian root can act as a muscle relaxant to an extent too. However, I’ll need a lot more human evidence before we come to a definitive connection.
- Valeriana officinalis-Science Direct. ↩︎
- Bent S, Padula A, Moore D, Patterson M, Mehling W. Valerian for sleep: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Med. 2006 Dec;119(12):1005-12. doi: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2006.02.026. PMID: 17145239; PMCID: PMC4394901. ↩︎
- Becker A, Felgentreff F, Schröder H, Meier B, Brattström A. The anxiolytic effects of a Valerian extract is based on valerenic acid. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2014 Jul 28;14:267. doi: 10.1186/1472-6882-14-267. PMID: 25066015; PMCID: PMC4122768. ↩︎