Does Valerian Work for RA?


The herb valerian has a history of use for sleep problems and anxiety disorders. Disrupted sleep has been called a common and often neglected symptom of arthritis. In 2000, a large, nationally representative survey of people over 65 years of age with arthritis found that disruption of sleep, among all the disruptions of arthritis, was the main reason that people sought a variety of alternative therapy, self-care, and conventional medical treatments. Valerian has also been taken for other reasons, such as the intent to relieve muscle and joint pain. The species of valerian most used in American supplements is Valeriana officinalis.
Effectiveness and safety information:
  • The evidence suggests that valerian has at least mild benefits for sleep problems, including insomnia, in the general population. It has been theorized that valerian may have benefits for people with sleep problems from rheumatoid arthritis. However, there has been no research specifically on valerian use for rheumatoid arthritis in order to answer this question.


  • There is not much evidence on how long it is safe to take valerian and which dose is safe to use.
  • There is not enough reliable evidence to declare whether valerian is effective for muscle and joint pain, including pain from rheumatoid arthritis. There may be some biological basis for the theory that valerian could be beneficial for musculoskeletal pain.


  • Valerian is considered generally safe. However, it should not be taken with sedative drugs (for example, alcohol, benzodiazepines, or narcotics) or other sedative herbs (such as melatonin, SAMe, or St. John's wort). Valerian will increase the sedative effects of these medicines or herbs. People who are taking antifungal drugs, statins, or certain anti-arrhythmia drugs should not take valerian. Valerian may not be safe for people who have a liver disorder or are at risk for one. After taking valerian, caution should be used in driving or using dangerous machinery. Side effects can include drowsiness in the morning, headache, stomach problems, excitability or anxiety, and sleeplessness.


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