Foraging for some sleep , my use of Valeriana officinalis

Sadness , depression , anxiety , hopelessness for some just words for some and for others they hold passing understanding but for me and countless others they are day to day emotions that control our every day .
I’ve had a real interest in foraging and this has grown into the herbal / medicinal use of plants and fungi this is largely fuelled by a hope that I may stumble upon a wild ingredient that will help with my own problem .

I make no secret that I have a problem and in all honesty admitting I do was a big step for me hiding it was a massive mistake .
I’ve collected various different plants and fungi and used them with different degrees of effectiveness I have began to see my depression as a game of skittles there are many parts that singularly I can happily cope with but when they are all in play I just can’t manage .
This got me thinking that if I could take a few of the factors out I maybe could move forward and realising that I need to concentrate on one part at a time has led to me finding a degree of peace .
The first thing I was able to identify as a contributing symptom was my lack of sleep , I sleep when asleep if that makes sense but find it very hard to actually fall asleep some people call it hamster brain I call it “what if ” syndrome .
There are lots of herbal remedies that can aid sleep and it’s understanding the basic question of why I could not rest that led me to a remedy that works for me ,

Firstly I want to point out that my aid is two part and consists of four plants two of these I change from time to time so that they do not lose their effect, the first step is a herbal tea made from chamomile , sweet woodruff , and a wild mint these I collect and dry ready for use throughout the year I have this drink mid evening around four hours before I intend to get my head down , I find that half of the time this takes effect after a few hours and often is enough to get me to sleep on it’s own giving me a feeling of ease and relaxation which aids me in sleeping.

The next ingredient Is a wild found medicine that is the real deal and easy to make use of ,
Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) is a magical plant and my most treasured of all plants that I have found and used .
Valerian as I understand it is a sedative of the brain but not of the body so alone will not put you to sleep as a sedative but will help with an over active mind allowing natural sleep to occur which in my case is exactly what I need , being as it doesn’t cause drowsiness it works well as an aid for managing situations that may be of stressful or cause anxiousness in my opinion it’s a herbal equivalent to a shot of Dutch courage just taking the edge off of the situation but by far the main positive for this herb is the lack of after effects as anyone who has been prescribed sleep aids will know you tend to be a walking dead extra for some hours after use making it near impossible to have a normal day .
As regards to use , valerian root is the needed part as this is the part that we dry to make a tincture and it was my lack of knowledge that has inadvertently rewarded me with a harvesting tip that yields better stock , when I first found valerian wild this year I knew what it was but had little knowledge about its use and my first harvest consisted of a big handful of the stem , leaf and flowering heads and I felt a tad daft when I realised that my efforts were completely wasted and it was a few weeks after that I managed to get back to the spot to dig the roots but luckily in whole the roots were plump and good so I remember thinking no harm done , after that on several trips I found valerian and harvested the root and remember thinking that my first batch was much better in quality than any that came after even from the same spot and this made me think ! Had my cutting of the stalk caused a natural root increase?
The answer is yes cutting the plant just above the lowest leaf junction IMG_3455.JPGforces the plant to amass a store of energy and yields bigger and better roots the cutting needs to be done approximately two – three weeks before you dig the roots each plant sends one single stem which is round but grooved and hollow with hairs that are more pronounced towards the base , the roots are not massive and quite a number of plants are needed to have a good amount of root


I dry the root naturally normally in a paper bag washing the root can be a fiddley job but needed as once dried I make a alcohol based tincture with a 50/50 dry root to vodka mix and I use a one ounce dropper per dose , and I always add the tincture to a mint tea as it smells like wet dog and find it takes a good few hours to take effect after taking the dose .
There is reference to reactions to valerian being that of hyper activity in some cases so a test dose mid day is a recommended step before actual requirement .
If you feel it would be a useful aid to your own needs but don’t have the means of self harvesting then please use a recognised herbalist supplier such as Napiers or Baldwins as buying from cheap ebay sellers or imports often lend to very poor quality tinctures .
But for the budding amateurs like me the plant is reasonably common and well worth investing your time into

Please ask your doctors opinion if you are having treatment for any other ailment although I can find no evidence to suggest that it has any adverse reactions to prescribed medicine it’s worth asking advice

I am not a herbalist or a doctor I am simply sharing my own personal experiences ! And as it stands today I’m having more and more good days and foraging is a direct reason for them .



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