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When taken together, the two herbs valerian and hops are considered to be anxiety reducers and sleep aids. Hops are generally associated with beer making, but have been used since their discovery as sedatives due to their apparent anti-insomnia effect. The valerian root, considered more potent than hops, also offers calming effects and promotes improved sleep quality. Both herbs are available in supplement form. Scientific experiments have been conducted on valerian and hops, though the combination is still considered a holistic form of treatment requiring further study.
Hops are native to North America, Europe, and Asia, and they are best known as the bitter, green flower used as both a flavoring agent and preservative agent for beer. The English began to use these flowers as medicinal herbs in the 17th century. Across the ocean, Native Americans were also using hops medicinally, both for sedative effects and as an aid in soothing toothaches.
Valerian root, which is originally native to Europe and Asia, is perceived as a more potent anti-anxiety and anti-insomnia herb when compared to hops. This plant not only garners acclaim for fighting restlessness, but for improving the quality of sleep, as it helps relax both muscles and bones. For these reasons, taking valerian and hops together may help to both relax the mind and the body.
Experimental studies on valerian and hops have suggested modest effects at treating insomnia. During the 20th and 21st centuries, European scientists began testing the effect of this combination on children. Such experimenters have noted a potentially positive effect on calming children with hyperactivity disorders and aggression. Improved motor coordination has also been noted among some child subjects.
Valerian and hops are available in supplement form, often as capsules consisting of both herbs combined. Hops may also be purchased at specialty stores and home brewing stores and can be brewed as a tea to be taken in conjunction with separate valerian supplements. Valerian root may additionally be taken in tea form or as a tincture.
The treatment of valerian and hops is still viewed as being within the spectrum of holistic medicine. Valerian and hops cocktails have not been evaluated by national government health organizations, such as the American Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It is recommended that a health care provider is consulted before self-diagnosing, as some patients may experience negative reactions to the herbs. Pregnant women and those with depression, low blood pressure, and hypoglycemia are advised to avoid taking these herbs together or separately for medicinal purposes.