Valerian officinalis - properties, features of growing and harvesting
Translated from Latin, the name "valerian" means "to be healthy." Valerian for the ability to calm, bring good mood, relieve choking, hysteria, relieve epileptic seizures, was used in ancient Greece. In Russia, the industrial collection of valerian as a medicinal product was first organized in the botanical garden under Peter I. Currently, valerian is widely used in official medicine and folk recipes for many diseases. Valerian is cultivated as a medicinal plant in the middle lane and southern regions. The resulting raw materials are used in fresh and dry form for the production of medicines and medicinal charges. In this publication, we will take a closer look at valerian: its therapeutic effect on the body, chemical composition, the possibility of procuring medicinal raw materials and growing at home.
- Botanical Description of Valerian
- Methods for preparing medicinal compositions at home
- Features of the collection, procurement and storage of medicinal raw materials of valerian
- Growing valerian in the country
Botanical Description of Valerian
In the modern classification, valerian belongs to the subfamily Valerianaceae of the family Honeysuckle. Valerian officinalis highlighted in a separate view - Valeriana officinalis. The people have a huge number of synonyms, the main of which is the name "cat grass".
The birthplace of valerian is the Mediterranean. In Russia, in vivo, valerian is distributed throughout the European part of the southern regions, the middle strip of forest and forest-steppe zones, in the Caucasus, Siberia, and the Far East. It belongs to the group of plants with increased moisture requirements, therefore it grows mainly in moist meadows, along river banks, in marshes, along the edges of marshy forests.
Valerian officinalis is a herbaceous perennial, up to 1.5-2.0 m in height, loves partial shade. In the first year, it forms a rosette of basal leaves, and in the second and subsequent years it ejects high straight stems, which are distinguished by a hollow-hollow structure inside, with a pale purple color in the lower part, which branch in the upper part of the plants. The stalk is covered with grooves. Stem leaves are located opposite, they are long petiolate in the lower part of the stems, the upper ones are sessile. Leaf blades are divided into segments (4-11 pairs), unpaired pinnately dissected, serrate edges.
Small valerian flowers with a white-pinkish tinge of petals are collected in loose umbrellas (upon careful examination, these are corymbose-paniculate inflorescences), which are located on the tops of branched stems. It blooms from the third decade of May to mid-August. The fruit is a miniature oblong achene, reminiscent of the outlines of a chicken egg. Seeds are harvested from July to the end of September.
A distinctive feature of valerian is the specific smell that essential oils give to plants. Highlighted real valerian oil has a bitter-sweet taste. It is used in perfumery, giving the compositions of elite perfumes a persistent, refined, deep aroma, with a cold note of the smell of green forest.
Note! Over the clearing with valerian, midges always swarm, attracted by the strong musky, wood-balsamic aroma of inflorescences. The aroma imperceptibly calms, plunging into the world of rest and contemplation.
In the upper 10-15 cm layer of soil, there is a rhizome of valerian with thin cord-like subordinate roots up to 10-12 cm long. The color of the rhizome and roots outside is yellowish brown, at the fracture it is more often yellowish to brownish. The adnexal roots are brittle, clearly separated from the rhizome. The taste is burning, slightly bitter.
In valerian, a rhizome with roots differs from other rhizomes of umbellate plants with a sharp, pronounced specific smell, which is very attractive to male felines. The chemical composition resembles female ferromones, which act excitingly on adult males. Having breathed an attractive aroma, males fall into ecstasy.
The chemical composition of valerian
The main therapeutic substance is essential oils, which are inherent in the whole plant, but mainly accumulate in the roots and rhizomes of adult, well-developed plants. Valerian has a unique composition of the components that are necessary for a person. These include tannins, alkaloids, organic acids (malic, formic, butyric, stearic, acetic). Roots and rhizomes are rich in macro- and microelements, including calcium, iron, zinc, potassium, manganese, magnesium, selenium, etc.
The healing properties of valerian
Valerian essential oils calm the nervous system, relax the spasm of smooth muscles and coronary vessels, reduce general reflex excitability, help reduce pressure, provide positive dynamics during nervous excitement, epilepsy, hysteria, and migraines. They help normalize and prolong sleep, stimulate blood circulation.
The unique chemical composition of the rhizome and valerian root is used by pharmacists in the development of drugs that have a beneficial effect on the digestive tract, with certain diseases of the liver, bile ducts and gall bladder, kidneys. Valerian has a definite positive effect in toxicosis of pregnant women.
Since ancient times, valerian has been used in folk medicine by herbalists. In the form of home decoctions and water infusions, it is used as a choleretic, anticonvulsant, anthelmintic, antiemetic agent. The people consider valerian to be an indispensable tool for hypochondria, headaches, and palpitations, as a sedative for heartaches.
Preparations from valerian in the official pharmacopoeia and alternative treatment are deservedly considered "first aid" for a large number of diseases.
Methods for preparing medicinal compositions at home
Valerian infusion on the water
A teaspoon of dry crushed raw materials is poured into a glass (200 ml) of cold purified water. Insist at room temperature for 6-8 hours. Take 3 times a day for 0.5 hours before meals.
Dosage: adults - 1 tablespoon, children - one teaspoon.
It is used as a sedative for nervous excitement, hysteria, hypochondria, headaches and heartaches.
A teaspoon of dry raw material is poured into a glass (200 ml) of purified water. Bring to a boil, turn off the heat, cool to room temperature.
Take 1 tablespoon:
- with insomnia before bedtime;
- with neurasthenia, excited state, hysteria - 3 times a day after eating;
- from pain in the stomach and to improve digestion - 3 times a day for 0.5 hours before meals.
With epilepsy, herbalists recommend bathing the patient every other day in a decoction of dried roots. 400-500 g of dry raw materials are ground in a coffee grinder, poured with 2 liters of water, boiled for 2 hours. Cool, filter and add to the bath prepared for bathing.
It is better to buy alcohol tinctures, extracts, valerian powders in pharmacies.
Are there any contraindications to valerian?
The use of valerian, like other medicines, has its limitations. With prolonged use (more than 1-2 months) in large quantities, valerian preparations inhibit the nervous system, as well as the digestive system, they can cause nausea and headache. Drowsiness, depression, dizziness and even nervous excitement, serious sleep disturbances appear.
Drugs are contraindicated for allergy sufferers, with individual intolerance to these drugs, with stomach ulcers, acute gastritis, and high blood coagulability.
For the treatment of children, valerian preparations can be used only after consulting a doctor.
Be careful: Before prolonged use of valerian, as a therapeutic agent, be sure to consult a doctor.
Features of the collection, procurement and storage of medicinal raw materials of valerian
For therapeutic purposes, the roots and rhizomes of valerian are harvested. Digging and collecting underground parts of valerian begin from the 2nd year of plant life. Rhizomes with roots are dug up after the plants bloom when the aboveground mass is completely dry. You can dig rhizomes in the spring, but the quality of the raw materials in this period is low.
Rhizome with valerian roots is located in the upper 10-15 cm layer, so undermining lead to the bayonet shovels. Gently cleaned from the ground, trying not to injure the top layer of the harvested mass. Wash raw materials immediately under running water. Thick rhizomes are cut into pieces along (up to 10 cm) and across and laid out 10-15 cm in a layer. It can be dried under a canopy, spreading out with a layer of no more than 5 cm. To prevent raw materials from moldy, they often ted and turn it over.
When drying in specially prepared dryers, the wet mass is first dried in the shade of a draft, transferred to the dryer and subjected to the so-called “cold drying”. The temperature in such dryers is maintained within + 30 ... + 35 ° С. Lower temperatures can cause moldy raw materials, and at higher temperatures volatilization of essential oils begins - the main component of medicinal raw materials.
Valerian drying is considered complete if the rhizomes break easily. Dry raw materials are stored for 3 years in a dry room, in paper bags or bags made of natural fabric, and can also be made from burlap.
Properly dried roots and rhizomes of valerian have a peculiar smell, a slightly burning, bitter taste.
Fresh raw materials for the manufacture of medicinal products are used within 3 days.
For more information about the rules of collection, drying and storage of medicinal herbs, see the article "How to properly collect and dry medicinal plants."
Growing valerian in the country
Of course, such a medicinal herb is always needed in the family. Many summer residents start a pharmacy on their site, where they grow some of the most necessary and safe medicinal herbs for home treatment. This list also includes valerian.
Valerian seeds can be bought or collected independently. 100% seed germination is achieved when sowing on light forest soil. On chernozems, it is better to pre-introduce humus, increasing the looseness of soil. Sowing is carried out in the fall or spring in moist soil in an ordinary or lower case method. Small seeds are planted to a depth of 0.5 cm or, with surface sowing, covered with a small layer of soil. Shoots at air temperature + 5 ... + 6 ° C appear after 2-3 weeks. The optimum air temperature for growth and development ranges from + 20 ... + 25 ° С.
Despite its moisture loving nature, valerian is still able to tolerate drought for a long period. Care consists in the timely removal of weeds and maintaining the soil in a loose state.
In the first year, only a rosette of valerian leaves is formed. Regrowth of the aboveground mass begins immediately after the snow melts. Budding and flowering begin from the second year in 40-45 days. In one place can grow for a long time. The roots dig in the 2nd – 3rd year of growth and development. Seeds ripen in 75-90 days. If seeds are not needed, then the tops are cut off as inflorescences appear. Then the nutrients go to the formation of a larger root system in the plant.
Reproduction of Valerian
Propagated by valerian seeds or division of the bush. During seed propagation, the prepared seed is sown in autumn or spring. Seeds quickly lose their germination capacity, therefore, sowing is best done with freshly sown seed.
Propagation of valerian by dividing the bushes is carried out in the spring, before the leaves bloom on the plant. Transplanting bushes are divided so that the rhizome has several living buds.
Raw material collection
The collection of raw materials is carried out after drying of the aerial mass. Re-collection of raw materials from one bush is carried out no earlier than a year later. With a complete excavation of the rhizome with roots, seeds are introduced into the formed fossa for further reproduction.
Dear Reader! You got acquainted with the properties of Valerian officinalis, its use in a number of diseases, the possibility of self-preparation of medicinal drink and growing Valerian in the country. It remains to be recalled once again that the use of valerian preparations for a long time for a course of treatment is necessary only on the recommendation of a doctor. Be healthy!