Valerian is a member of the mint family. It belongs to the mint family because it grows from plants with leaves and stems. Its scientific name is Valeriana officinalis and its botanical name is Valeria officinalis. It was first described in 1791 by French botanist Jean Baptiste de Lamartine (1743–1807). There are two species of valerians: V. officinariorum and V. officinale. Both species have similar characteristics and they both grow from the same plant, but their growth habits differ considerably. For example, V. officinariorum grows upright while V. officinale grows in clusters or vines. The genus name refers to Valerius, a Roman emperor who was known for his love of wine and for being fond of mint tea.
The plant Valeriana officinalis is native to Europe, Asia Minor and North Africa. It is found in high mountains, valleys and plains. The plant grows in moist soil, but prefers dry conditions when growing.
It prefers full sun or partial shade. It is found in the wild at elevations over 5,000 feet and can be found at sea level.
Valerian has spread from its native habitat to become an invasive species in parts of North America, New Zealand and Australia. Native American tribes had many medicinal uses for the plant, but it was the ancient Greeks who first used valerian for medical purposes. The ancient Greeks used it for nervous disorders and as a sedative.
The earliest recorded use of the plant was in 2,000 B.C. It was used for a variety of treatments, including insomnia, headaches, indigestion, menopause and restlessness.
It was also used to prevent plague and malaria. Both the root and herb were used medicinally.
Galen (A.D. 129—210) contributed much to the knowledge of valerian root and its medicinal uses.
He believed it had sedative and analgesic properties, and could be used for treating hypertension, convulsions, colic and more.
In the Middle Ages, extracts were used to make perfumes. The leaves have a strong, musky odor used to in perfumes.
In 1819, the German pharmaceutical company Valerianae Chemica Bitter, Herba was established for the purpose of manufacturing valerian root extracts.
Sources & references used in this article:
Nematicidal activity of plant essential oils and components from coriander (Coriandrum sativum), oriental sweetgum (Liquidambar orientalis), and valerian (Valeriana … by J Kim, SM Seo, SG Lee, SC Shin… – Journal of Agricultural …, 2008 – ACS Publications
Archaeological Sources for the History of Herbal Medicine Practice: The case study of St John’s wort with valerian at Soutra medieval hospital by B Moffat, S Francia, A Stobart – Critical Approaches to the History …, 2014 – books.google.com
Learning New Medicines: Exchanging Medicinal Plant Knowledge amongst Northwestern North American Indigenous and Settler Communities by AC Dweck – Valerian, 2017 – Routledge
Effects of cultivation systems on the growth, and essential oil content and composition of valerian by NJ Turner – Medicina nei Secoli, 2018 – medicinaneisecoli.it