Category: 

Why Should I Not Combine Valerian and Alcohol?

Article Details
  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 15 March 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
  • Print this Article
Free Widgets for your Site/Blog
According to popular legend, Emperor Nero fiddled while Rome burned.   more...

April 18 ,  1775 :  Paul Revere went on his famous nighttime ride.  more...

Valerian is an herb that has been in use for several millennia, and in modern times it is often a remedy for anxiety or sleeplessness. There is evidence that the herb is relatively effective and safe for most adults to take. Though this is an herbal remedy, certain precautions should be observed. Valerian and alcohol or any other sedatives should be not be combined because they can create too much sedation and potentially pose problems.

The main reason to avoid using valerian together with alcohol is that both of these drugs affect the central nervous system (CNS), and are called CNS depressants. A single CNS depressant in an appropriate dose is unlikely to create problems, but it will cause symptoms like sleepiness, slightly slower breathing, and general sedation. Combining valerian and alcohol means subjecting the body to two CNS depressants at the same time, and this can result in too much sedation. Concern exists that breathing can become seriously impaired under these circumstances, and enough of both substances used together poses a potentially small but real risk for death.

Ad

A similar caution to that issued for valerian and alcohol exists for virtually any sedative used with this herb. Medicines for sleep, drugs like benzodiazepines, most medications used in the treatment of depression, psychosis or mood disorders, and the majority of opioid pain relievers are best not combined with valerian. There are some fine distinctions here, since many people use a combination of psychiatric medicines and valerian together. Essentially the warnings are worded to suggest that valerian only be used under medical guidance with other CNS depressants or psychiatric medications, but that a combination can be appropriate at times.

In the case of valerian and alcohol, the warning is much stronger. It’s really advised people not combine these two substances, as they may pose an unnecessary risk to health. Risk increases with each substance that is added, so that if a person who regularly uses valerian and a benzodiazepine has a drink too, he or she is in greater danger of adverse effects. Essentially, it is simply better not to mix CNS depressants unless monitored by a doctor, and in these cases, doctors would not recommend valerian and alcohol or most combinations of alcohol and sedatives.

There are other reasons to avoid alcohol while using herbs like valerian. Consuming alcoholic beverages doesn’t assist insomnia and anxiety. Both of these conditions can worsen with regular alcohol use, and though initial consumption may seem to allay symptoms, over time alcohol use may create greater sleeplessness or more anxiety and depression. Using an herbal remedy or a medication prescribed by a doctor is generally more effective and lacks the pitfalls of alcohol use.

Ad

Discuss this Article

anon254344
Post 3

Well I take valerian at fairly large doses (750mg three times daily, and beyond). I feel I started taking the herb this way to see if it really did anything. I can confirm that for me, Valerian has significantly reduced me anxiety levels by removing the "live streak" of anxiety that I feel in my body (just my way of describing it).

Valerian root has also improved my sleep. I feel that my sleep is deeper and that I'm awakening more refreshed and with more energy. Of course there is substantiation behind valerian root. It's been used for millennia; it's just that people these days rely on quick and trialled fixes from doctors. My advice would be not to underestimate the power of a valerian root preparation, especially when combining it with alcohol!

fLEXI
Post 2

@thetiger - I agree. A large problem is that a lot of people who take valerian root regularly have depression or anxiety problems, which is why it’s so helpful. But people with these kinds of mental illnesses can also be much more likely to abuse alcohol and other drugs, so there is a much higher chance that the complications mentioned in the article will arise.

It's kind of scary when you think about the fact that valerian interactions aren’t really well known. For the relatively small part of the population that has had bad experiences with these situations, this kind of information should be more available!

TheTiger
Post 1

Valerian root is commonly called “nature’s valium”!

I’m pretty sure it’s relatively harmless at lower doses, but higher doses of it can affect a person a lot more. I knew someone who would drink tea with valerian for depression. It helped him a lot, but he started taking a lot more of it and it started to mess with his health. I think anything like Valerian needs to be taken in moderation, but when it’s something herbal a lot of people don’t realize how strong it can be. It’s especially scary that, when taken with alcohol, it can be so dangerous.

Post your comments

Post Anonymously

Login

username
password
forgot password?

Register

username
password
confirm
email