June is a wonderful time for flowers on the land. Everything seems to be popping, the air smells lovely and the pollinators are happy. This is also an exciting time for me, as it is the time when I start to replenish our apothecary with herbs, tinctures and infused oils. Every spring, I re-evaluate what we used the previous year and decide what we might require this year. Except for a couple of items, I usually need to increase the quantities that I made in the previous year, since I am I big fan of sharing. As the flowers are opening different herbs call upon me to explore or delve deeper; some are new ones, others are old friends. Last year, I started working with Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) flowers for the first time. Most people use its roots but the fragrant flowers kept calling me and I am so glad I listened.
Valerian is best known as a sedative. It calms the nervous system and reduces stress, tension, anxiety and insomnia. Basically, it calms restless minds. Last year, it didn’t make sense for me to harvest the roots (even though the plant tends to be hard to eliminate once established), when the flowers were so aromatic. It is no big surprise it was used in perfumes during the 16th century. With such a potent fragrance, I knew the flowers had to contain powerful medicine. I decided to compare. I bought dried Valerian root and harvested half of the flowers (I wanted to leave some for the pollinators). I tinctured both separately. My husband and I both tried them and found that we liked them both. Each tincture soothed frazzled nerves and helped with insomnia but the flowers were much gentler and subtle. The flowers encouraged sleep while the roots demanded it. What I really love about the tincture made from the flowers, is how it gently quiets my mind into a restful sleep, with dreams. When I woke, I felt truly rested and not zonked out. As a result, we became big fans of Valerian flowers tinctures. So this year I am making a double batch to share.
Although, Valerian flowers are gentle and generally calming, there are people who experience the reverse affects. About 5 % of the population experiences Valerian as a stimulant and become somewhat agitated instead of relaxed. So, like anything new, try a small dose, less is always better anyway. Valerian enhances the action of alcohol and sleep-inducing drugs, so please avoid if taking this type of medication.
All information is shared for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or treat any condition.