Even though some complain it doesn't work all the time, doctors say it's safe to try it. Valerian is a flowering plant used for centuries as a remedy for insomnia and anxiety. The herbal remedies are made from its roots and can have an unpleasant, earthy smell.
Valerenic acid acts on chemical pathways in the brain that control a person's level of relaxation. At least 68 companies sell products in the U.S. containing Valerian, available in capsules and tablets as well as bedtime teas and a tincture, a liquid you can put under your tongue or mix with water.
Most of the studies are not done by a sleep lab, so they measure instead patients' subject assessments. Lemon balm, a minty plant said to be calming, is often included in the Valerian dosage.