Valerian is a perennial herb which grows upto 1 metre in height. Its rootstock is thicker than the stem, producing suckers or shoots rising from the ground. The stems are furrowed, hairy below and smooth above, whereas its lower leaves are long compared to the smaller upper leaves. The plant has small, white flowers in small clusters and small and smooth fruit. The rhizomes and roots of the plant constitute the main use. The herb contains valerianic, formic and acetic acids, in addition to an essential oil, resin, starch, a glucoside and two alkaloids chatrine and valerianine.
The juice of Valerian is a traditional remedy for functional disturbances of the nervous system. It was perhaps the earliest treatment or’ neurosis, accompanied by physical diseases with mental symptoms or social maladjustment, especially in interpersonal relationships. The herb is particularly useful in treating cases of hysteria, restless and irritable conditions. The drug exercises deppressant action on the overall central nervous system. It has gained importance in recent years owing to its beneficial effects in epilepsy. It is also considered useful in chorea, a condition marked by incessant involuntary jerks. The herb is useful in treating insomnia. It reduces excitement, irritation and pain. The fresh juice of the plant can be used as a narcotic to induce sleep.