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Dr. Tori Hudson, Portland, Oregon, Blog Healthline Blog

insomniaA recent study was published in the journal, Menopause, on the impact of valerian for sleep quality in postmenopausal women who were experiencing insomnia. The postmenopausal women studied were generally healthy women aged 50 to 60 years who were menopausal for at least 1 year, were not using hormone therapy and were experiencing insomnia as evaluated by the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI). The participants and the investigators and the statistician were all blinded. One group of women were given capsules containing 530 mg of concentrated valerian extract twice per day and the other group was given placebo twice per day, for 4 weeks.

A statistically significant change was reported in the quality of the sleep in the valerian group when compared to the placebo group. The average scored on the sleep scale before valerian was 9.8 and after valerian it was 6.02. The placebo group had an initial average sleep scale score of 11.1 and after placebo, 9.4. Overall, 30% of the women taking valerian and 4% taking placebo reported an improvement in their sleep quality.


Approximately 61% of postmenopausal women have sleep problems, which then of course can lead to other consequences including impaired function, fatigue, depression and reduced quality of life. In addition, hot flushes and night sweats, which affect 75% to 85% of postmenopausal women, can also affect sleep quality.

Valerian is the most commonly used herb for individuals suffering from insomnia and is in the top 10 herbal supplements most commonly used in general. Quite a few studies have been done on valerian and insomnia in the last 20 years but few have studied older adults and no previous studies in postmenopausal women and over a longer period of time such as the current study. Results have been inconsistent and quite varied in the design of the study. Several previous studies have reported improvement in sleep quality in individuals using valerian over time but there are only a few studies with significant improvement in sleep outcomes when compared to placebo. Fortunately, the current study has shown that valerian improves the quality of sleep in postmenopausal women with insomnia, and can add to our treatment options in a much needed area of medicine.


Taavoni S, Ekbatani N, Kashaniyan M, Haghani H. Effect of valerian on sleep quality in postmenopausal women: a randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial. Menopause 2011; 18(9): 951-955.

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