A double-blind, placebo-controlled investigation of the effects of two doses of a valerian preparation on the sleep, cognitive and psychomotor function of sleep-disturbed older adults



One of the most popular herbal remedies for the alleviation of sleep problems is valerian. However, research into valerian is sparse, and studies differ greatly with respect to design, measures, and preparations used. This clinical study used standardized sleep EEG and psychometric tests to evaluate the clinical efficacy of a valerian preparation (Li 156).

A placebo-controlled three way crossover clinical trial was completed using 16 (5 male and 11 female) sleep-disturbed participants (aged 50 to 64 years, mean age 55.9, SD 4.68). Participants slept overnight in a sleep laboratory, following a 21:00 hours dose of valerian 300 mg, valerian 600 mg, or placebo (double-blind). EEG sleep was recorded for each participant at 23:00 hours until 07:00 hours, when a psychometric evaluation was performed the morning after dose. Test periods were separated by six days washout period.

Results showed no significant effect between valerian 300 mg, valerian 600 mg or placebo on any EEG parameter or psychometric measure. This suggests valerian at these doses is ineffective as an acute dose for sleep problems. However, valerian is widely used, and is traditionally sedative. Therefore, more research is required into therapeutic dose, types of valerian preparation, and the optimum period of use for therapeutic effect. Copyright © 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.