I take valerian for sleep and wonder if other drugs interact with it?”
–M.K., Coconut Creek, Florida
Answer: Valerian is used for insomnia, migraines, depression, panic attacks and flight anxiety. Because valerian slows things down in the body, it’s calming effect becomes more pronounced when mixed other substances with tend to cause tranquility in the body. Hops, kava, 5-HTP, melatonin, SAMe and St. John’s wort may all interact. Also, alcoholic beverages. As for prescribed medications, valerian interacts with:
–Opiate pain-killers (hydrocodone, propoxyphene)
–Anti-anxiety drugs (lorazepam, alprazolam)
If you take any of those listed above, check with your doctor to make sure that the combination is safe. For example, combining melatonin and valerian often enhances sleep patterns. But the combination of kava with valerian, or with other sedatives could be extremely dangerous.
Suzy Cohen, has been a licensed pharmacist for over 30 years and believes the best approach to chronic illness is a combination of natural medicine and conventional. She founded her own dietary supplement company specializing in custom-formulas, some of which have patents. With a special focus on functional medicine, thyroid health and drug nutrient depletion, Suzy is the author of several related books including Thyroid Healthy, Drug Muggers, Diabetes Without Drugs, and a nationally syndicated column.