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Chapter: Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry : Drugs Containing Volatile Oils

Valerian consists of the dried roots and rhizomes of Valeriana wallichi Linn., belonging to family Valerianaceae.






European valerian, English valerian, German valerian, Val-eriana rhizome.


Biological Source


Valerian consists of the dried roots and rhizomes of Valeriana wallichi Linn., belonging to family Valerianaceae.


Geographical Source


It is indigenous to Britain and also found in Holland, France, Japan, Belgium, and Germany.


Cultivation and Collection


Valerian does well in all ordinary soils, but prefers rich, heavy loam, well-supplied with moisture. Preference is given in collecting root offsets. The daughter plants and young flowering plants, which develop towards the end of summer, at the end of slender runners given off by the perennial rhizomes of old plants. They are set 1 foot apart in rows, 2 or 3 feet apart in soil pretreated with farmyard manure, and after planting it is supplied with liquid manure timely along with plenty of water. Weeding requires con-siderable attention.


Seed propagation is also done. The seeds are either sown when ripe in cold frames or in open in March in gentle heat. Transplantation if required is done in May to perma-nent quarters. But to ensure the best alkaloidal percentage, it is best to transplant and cultivate the daughter plants of the wild Valerian. The flowering tops are cut off so as to enabling the better growth of the rhizome. Many of the young plants do not flower in the first year, but produce a luxuriant crop of leaves and yield rhizome of good quality in the autumn. In late September or in early October, all the tops are cut off, and the rhizomes are harvested. Large rhizomes are cut into transverse or longitudinal slices and dried as quickly as possible at low temperature.




The drug are found either entire or sliced erect rhizome, which is dark yellowish-brown externally. It has a size of about 1 inch long and 1/2 inch thick, having numerous slender brittle roots from 2 1/2 to 4 inches long and few short, slender, lateral branches are also present. The rootstocks are sometimes crowned with the remains of flowering stems and leafscales are usually firm, horny, and whitish or yellowish internally. A transverse section shows irregular outline and exhibits a comparatively narrow bark, separated by a dark line from an irregular circle of wood bundles of varying size.


                             Valeriana wallichi

Chemical Constituents


The chief constituent of Valerian is a yellowish-green to brownish-yellow oil, present in the dried root to the extent of 0.5 to 2%. Oil is contained in the sub-epidermal layer of cells consist of valerianic, formic, and acetic acids; the alcohol known as borneol and pinene. Fresh rhizomes are reported to have glucoside, alkaloid, and resin.




Valerian is used in the treatment of insomnia, hysteria, blood pressure, as an anticonvulsant in the treatment of epilepsy. Valerian can produce a mild and safer sedative without producing any addiction and dependency. Valerian has shown to have some antitumor activity, also used as aromatic, stimulant, nervine, emmenagogue, anodyne, and antispasmodic. It can promote menstruation when taken hot. Useful in colic, low fevers, to break up colds and relieves palpitation of the heart. Oil of Valerian is employed as a popular remedy for cholera, in the form of cholera drops and also to a certain extent in soap perfumery.


Marketed Products


It is one of the ingredients of the preparations known as Mentat, Anxocare (Himalaya Drug Company) and Saptagun taila (Baidyanath).


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