If you’re wondering who valerian is and why does he have roots, then you’re not alone. Not many people know about this hidden gem of a supplement, but here at The Fitness Tribe, we are here to educate you on the wonder of valerian root. It’s one of many dietary supplements taken for various reasons like improvement in sleep quality and helping anxiety disorders. However, there has been some debate on whether or not it causes weight gain. Before panicking, let’s dive in for a closer look.
While sometimes you want the best weight gainer if you’re looking to bulk up, that’s not always the case. People turn to oatmeal weight loss, probiotics, and laxatives to promote losing those extra pounds. Those are safe when combined with a nutritious diet, adequate sleep, and exercise.
That’s when the problem sets in for some people. Chronic insomnia or inability to fall asleep quickly plagues many of us. According to the Cleveland Clinic, over 70 million Americans have insomnia and seek sleep aids to help. Lack of sleep contributes to weight gain as it can increase late-night snacking and affect the brain’s frontal lobe from making good decisions.
Enter Valerian root extract to bring a herbal remedy to sleep aids. However, the rumor mill has suggested that valerian root to treat insomnia can cause weight gain. Is there any truth behind this assumption?
Understanding Valerian Root
Valerian root, from the plant species Valeriana Officinalis, is an herbal medicine that has been used for hundreds of years as a sleep aid. The plant is native to areas of Europe and Asia but is now grown in other regions like the United States. It can be consumed in a capsule, liquid extract, or tea.
While scientists are unsure how exactly the valerian root works, some theories suggest that it increases the amount of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) in the brain. GABA is a neurotransmitter that blocks messages to and from the brain. Doing so calms the central nervous system when it experiences stressful situations. It works with neurotransmitters like serotonin and glutamate to create a delicate balance of allowing and disallowing messages to the brain.
If this herbal extract does increase GABA, then it makes sense why people feel a sense of calm and sleepiness when taking valerian. Certain prescription medications like Xanax work in the same way to increase GABA receptors in the brain, bringing calm to anxiety management.
Using Valerian Root Extract
As with all dietary supplements, it’s essential to ensure your doctor gives you the go-ahead before taking anything. Many people start taking valerian root to help with insomnia or restlessness at night. Valerian extract has been known to help people fall asleep faster. Herbal medicines like valerian root also reduce anxiety with their sedative properties. It will often be prescribed to decrease stress and anxiety levels before going for harsher prescription medications.
Weight Gain and Valerian Root
So back to the main question. Does valerian root cause weight gain? The truth is there is no evidence to suggest it does. One study showed that valerian root has the exact opposite effect. The findings showed valerian root supplementation reduced weight gain. No scientific evidence has proven it promotes weight gain like some other supplements. Whether the reason is suppressed lipid accumulation or better sleep, more studies must be performed to understand it better. However, most current scientific evidence shows valerian root can reduce weight gain.
Before we get too excited about valerian root, we should mention some potential side effects. Some people experience brain fog, headaches, stomachaches, uneasiness, dry mouth, and heart palpitations when taking valerian root. Another common side effect is vivid dreams, which could be due to the compound iridoid glycosides in valerian. This compound increases the production of serotonin in the brain, giving you a more relaxing sleep and making dreams more vivid.
Certain health conditions like liver disease and people taking certain medications should avoid valerian root. It can cause problematic interactions with certain medications. Again, discussing taking valerian root with a licensed medical professional is vital, especially if you have certain health conditions.
Similar to our collagen and weight gain article, where we concluded that collagen promotes weight loss, valerian root meets the same outcome. Instead of making you gain weight, studies have shown that it reduces body weight when consumed in the proper amounts under a doctor’s guidance. Valerian root may lower anxiety levels by bringing a sense of calm to the central nervous system. It might be time to get rid of those sleep aids that leave you with unwanted withdrawal symptoms and reach for a dietary supplement that works. Valerian root for the win!