Natural Sleep Aid Valerian Must Be Used With Caution

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“Dear Pharmacist,

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:

–Diazepam (Valium)
–Clonazepam (Klonopin)
–Opiate pain-killers (hydrocodone, propoxyphene)
–Anti-anxiety drugs (lorazepam, alprazolam)
–Certain antidepressants
–Surgical anesthetics

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.