Cat's root (Valeriana officinalis) is best known for its sedative and sleep-including effects. Its medicinal use dates back to the first century, but at that time it was mainly used for its diuretic and diaphoretic properties and to relieve menstrual cramps.
The main active ingredient in cat's root is valerenic acid. This compound inhibits the enzymes responsible for the breakdown of the brain 'hormone' GABA, thus increasing GABA levels - a more powerful effect.
But what is GABA? GABA is our brain's 'main' inhibitory signal transducer. This means that GABA makes our nervous system 'calm down', slowing down the functioning of nerve cells - so our brain is more relaxed, we won't think as much - and this prepares us for sleep. It works in a similar way to benzodiazepines (the active ingredient in Xanax and Frontin). However, catnip is a natural plant, so it contains not just one active ingredient, but a whole host of others, so it will have a more balanced effect - with fewer side effects than benzodiazepines.
Sleep difficulties can upset our entire hormonal system and cause a number of illnesses. Continued poor sleep can cause stress management difficulties, diabetes, obesity, reduced muscle mass, depression and other discomforts. That's why it's incredibly important to treat sleep disorders, and this natural herb, valerian, can help. With a doctor's approval, try this first, rather than Frontin or Xanax.
Because of its sedative properties, it can be a powerful stress reliever and can also have a mood-boosting effect, so it can help with depression.
Recommended doses of cat's-root extract are 400-600 mg, the equivalent of 0.3-3 grams of root. As with all psychoactive (brain-active) supplements, it is important to avoid long-term, continuous use, taking it for 2-3 months at the most and then taking a break. It is recommended to take 1 hour before going to bed.
Do not take more than one, as it will give you a hangover-like feeling - it will make you feel more tired and depressed. In addition in rare cases, mostly upset stomach and nausea have been reported as side effects.
As it is also a diuretic, make sure you take it with adequate fluid and mineral intake.