pregnant woman laying in bedpregnant woman laying in bed

Valerian Root: is it safe for pregnancy?

By Babe

It can be hard to keep up with knowing all the ins and out’s of pregnancy and what’s “safe” to use and consume and what isn’t. Frankly, it’s way easier (and more fun) to keep up with the hottest maternity styles.

With all the rules and controversies out about what’s technically safe and unsafe, we understand it can be a bit overwhelming. From skincare to food, to activities, and how you can sleep, it can seem like you have to make too many changes.

Likewise, it can also take time to learn about all the pregnancy products, remedies, and routines that are best to use for you and your baby. You came to the right place to find the best of the best and get straight to the point regarding these different topics.

If you have heard about mothers using valerian root during their pregnancy and wondered what it was all about and if it’s safe, then we are here to shed a little light on this. 

Let’s first talk about what the valerian root is and what it is used for.

What Is Valerian Root?

Valerian Root, made from the root of “Valeriana officinalis,” is an herb with sedative properties, traced back to Europe and some parts of Asia. Some of the OG fans of this herbal remedy, including the Ancient Greeks and Romans who liked it “before it was cool.” Ugh. Hipsters.

It’s characterized by its strong odor and ability to grow up to a dating-app-approved height of six feet tall. The herb blossoms as a perennial flower with white and purple petals, making it a beautiful flower. It was used as a traditional medicine back hundreds of years ago and is still being used today.

What Is Valerian Root Used For?

Given its sedative properties, it is commonly used to help those with sleep disorders like insomnia. Although past studies have mostly focused on its effect on sleep disorders, this herbal remedy could possibly help those with anxiety, stress, and other conditions. Since it is a natural remedy, it may have fewer side effects than modern sleep medicines.

How To Take Valerian Root

Nowadays, there are a couple of different ways you can take valerian root. The most convenient ways to ingest it is through pill form or drinking Valerian herbal tea. You can also make valerian root tinctures. Or, it can work well in different concoctions and recipes.

Is Valerian Root Safe?

Recent research suggests that valerian root is milder than prescription sleeping pills, making it a safer first option before resorting to modern medicines. Since it has been around and used for hundreds and thousands of years, it’s generally regarded as safe and effective for certain groups. 

Is Valerian Root Safe to Take During Pregnancy?

The jury is still out on whether or not pregnant women can take valerian root or not. The most modern studies suggest that mamas-to-be avoid taking valerian root while pregnant or breastfeeding.

Look, we’re not here to be your stern mom. We’re HATCH. We’re the cool mom. We’re just gonna lay the facts down and let you make up your own mind.

So if you want to have a cup of coffee or a sip (or four) of wine — go for it. Science now agrees that a little coffee isn’t that bad for mamas-to-be, and they should have a cup with their Starbucks walking club. 

That being said, we don’t have a ton of research on valerian root and pregnancy. We have a 2012 study on rats that basically said valerian root didn’t affect brain weight, cerebral cortex volume, or copper levels in the brain. However, it did decrease the zinc in fetal rat brains — so science is giving a tentative “no” ATM. 

Just like any medicine or supplement, it is always best to consult your healthcare provider before taking just to double-check and steer clear of any issues that could arise. There are some medicines that are advised not to mix with valerian root that will be mentioned below.

Benefits of Valerian Root

When researching something, it’s great to look at the pros and cons to get a full picture before making a decision. Let’s talk about the benefits of valerian root.

It’s Natural

Valerian root is a natural herb, which we absolutely adore. Sometimes Mother Nature just gets us.

Can Help Treat Insomnia

As the studies have proven, valerian root helps those who suffer from sleep disorders like insomnia. It can be hard to girl boss to our full potential at work when we’re excessively tired throughout the day from poor lack of sleep during the night.

Ease Stress & Anxiety

Although it’s not proven through data collected from studies, people have reported valerian root helping ease stress and anxiety. 

Reduces PMS Symptoms

For some reason, our school’s nurse tried to sell us on how super cool puberty was. We’d grow taller and get curves. Then, she kind of tried to lump periods into this list of cool stuff.

Spoiler alert: periods aren’t the most fun we’ve ever had. Menstruating women have tons of hacks — the heating pad we love, the cooling headache wrap we have from our last pregnancy, and chocolate (lots of chocolate).

If you’re looking for another thing to add to your toolbox, consider valerian root. So when those premenstrual symptoms come swinging, you can combat them with a dash of valerian root. It’s known to reduce symptoms such as bloating, cramping, irritability, headache, body pains, tender breasts, and so much more.

Possible Side Effects of Valerian Root

When ingesting anything that does something for your body, natural or manmade, it is good to be aware of the possible side effects that can come with it.

Given this herb causes sleepiness, you will want to make sure you never take it before driving, operating any machinery, or doing any task that requires you to be alert. Skydiving. Waking New York Fashion Week runways. Listening to juicy brunch gossip.

While it’s fairly rare to experience the possible side effects, there are some to be aware of.

  • Vivid dreams (Uh, oh. Are we back in high school taking a math test?)
  • Heart palpitations (just like gym class)
  • Dry mouth
  • Upset stomach (Morning sickness is enough, thank you very much)
  • Headaches
  • Brain fog 

Do Not Take Valerian Root With Certain Medications and Supplements

Now that we know valerian root works as a sedative, there are certain medications you won’t want to mix with this herb as it could increase the effectiveness of other drugs, making the reaction unhealthy or unsafe.

As always, you should talk to your provider to ensure no medications you are currently on would be a risk factor when taking valerian root. Some medications known to interact with valerian root include benzodiazepines, alcohol, antidepressants, antipsychotics, morphine, muscle relaxers, and sleep medications. Taking valerian root in combination with these drugs can enhance the properties of their effects, making them not safe.

Other dietary supplements that aren’t the best to take with valerian root include California poppy, St. John’s wort, and melatonin since they also have sedative properties. You wouldn’t want to have a stronger sedative-like effect than what you are going for.

Get a Better Night’s Sleep

This herb is well-known and has been used as a sleep-aid as old as time. People tend to view it as safe and effective.

If you are an expecting mama and have been having a horrible sleep due to pregnancy insomnia, you do not have to keep suffering through the drowsiness on those 2 PM Zoom calls. There are a lot of options to make slipping into those maternity pajamas better. It may or may not be Valerian root.

So, if you have questions, consult your health professional before using it just to be extra safe. 

If you end up taking valerian root, be sure to do your research to find what dosage and brand is the best option for you. When purchasing any herb, finding an organic, clean option is always the best. We hope this information was helpful and useful to you. Now it’s time to relax and get more beauty sleep!