Sleep is a beautiful thing! As we discovered previously, valerian root has some similar benefits to melatonin. What are the similarities and differences between these two herbs? Thanks to Dr. Axe for sharing this comparison of these two herbs that can assist us in getting our Z’s… and why we should not take them both at the same time.
Melatonin is a hormone made in the pineal gland and is highly correlated with the body’s sleep-wake cycle. When the sun goes down and darkness occurs, the pineal is “turned on” by the SCN and begins to actively produce melatonin, which is released into the blood. Usually, this occurs around 9 p.m. As a result, melatonin levels in the blood rise sharply and you begin to feel less alert. Sleep becomes more inviting. Melatonin levels in the blood stay elevated for about 12 hours — all through the night — before the light of a new day when they fall back to low daytime levels by about 9 a.m. Daytime levels of melatonin are barely detectable. Low melatonin levels are linked to insomnia.
Valerian is a sedative herb that has been used for centuries for the treatment of insomnia. Valerian increases GABA levels in the brain, helping reduce brain activity and allowing users to fall asleep more easily. Gamma-amino butyric acid (GABA) is an amino acid that acts as a neurotransmitter in the central nervous system. It inhibits nerve transmission in the brain, calming nervous activity.
Both melatonin and valerian are used to treat insomnia and sleep issues. Both have shown positive effects on blood pressure.
Valerian is also recommended to treat anxiety, stress, muscular spasms and cramps.
Melatonin is being investigated to help with cancer care (improve response rates, survival time and quality of life). Melatonin also shows promise for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease).
Possible Side Effects:
Valerian — headache, dizziness, stomach problems, excitability, uneasiness
Melatonin — headache, short-term feelings of depression, daytime sleepiness, dizziness, stomach cramps, irritability
Valerian — Severe tiredness can result if combined with supplements with sleep-inducing properties.
Melatonin — Use caution when combining melatonin with supplements that slow blood clotting and those with sedative properties.
Valerian and melatonin — The safest bet is not to take them together because the combined sedative effect could be too strong. Both are considered to be nervous system depressants, producing a sedating effect as they promote sleep. You shouldn’t take melatonin with any other type of sedative, because it may be unsafe.
It’s also best not to combine either melatonin or valerian with any other over-the-counter or prescription sleep aids, or any products containing alcohol.
Using these sleep enhancing herbs is definitely an “either or” option. Remember as we found out in the information about valerian root, it may take some time before the effects of these herbal supplements are felt – but in your overall health picture, it may be beneficial to be patient.
As we are not cookie cutter people what we share here is for information purposes only – everyone’s health may respond differently to any and all supplements. Within the gift that we each one are responsible for our own health, do your own research and/or talk to your Natural Healthcare Provider about what may be most beneficial for your body’s requirements.