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From: ((Steven B. Harris))
Subject: Re: Valerian (1/2)
Date: 26 May 1995

In <> (Paul Iannone) writes:

>: At this time, nobody really knows what the active ingredients are in
>:  valerian.  As for your problems in making it, if you don't mind the
>:  extra money you can surely buy bottles of the ground root in every
>: health food store in the US.
>:                                                Steve Harris
>The usual ignorance from Steve. This from a repost by Camilla (edited):
>Valerian, Valeriana officinalis
>W. Fred Shaw, L.Ac., Dipl.Ac. (edited for relevant details by P. Iannone).
>The active chemical constituents of valerian are primarily the
>valepotriates (valtrate, isovaltrate and dihydrovaltrate), a group
>of chemically unstable iridoid triesters possessing sedative
>activity (9, 13, 18), with fewer side-effects than the diazepam
>class of tranquilizers (such as Valium), and reportedly are not
>potentiated by alcohol (1).

Saying this does not make it so.  THe sleep inducing effects of valerian
(which I thought were being discussed here) have long been known to be
in the water soluable fraction, and there are some human studies to
this effect.  This fraction does not contain the valepotriates, nor much
the sesquiterpinoids.  The chemicals above have all been individually
tested on rodents, by the way, and none of them have any seditive
effect, though valerian itself does.  The references for this are in
Tyler (p316-17), and I'm sure you can look them up as well as I.

>Aqueous extracts of valerian also contain enough GABA
>(gamma-aminobutyric acid - a principal neurotransmitter
>inhibitor of the central nervous system) to account for
>[3H]GABA release in synaptosomes, with an anti-depressant
>effect (5, 6).

If a valerian extract causes tritiated GABA release from synaptosomes,
it is surely GABA that was already there.  Whether there is enough GABA
in valerian to do it or not, this still does not come close to proving
that GABA is the active ingredient.  GABA, even pure GABA, is not that
powerful a sleep agent milligram for milligram.  I suspect that whatever
is in Valerian tea will turn out to be more potent.

>This herb also contains essential oils, including valerianic acid,
>isovalerianic acid, borneol, camphene, pinene and
>sesquiterpenes (2, 3). The sesquiterpenes also contribute to the
>sedative effect of this herb, but to a lesser degree than the
>valepotriates (11).

Again, there is NOT universal agreement on this, and there are studies
which show the opposite, i.e., no effect.  Again see Tyler for a review.

                                                  Steve Harris, M.D.

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