Is Valerian Root Safe During Pregnancy? Tea and More

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Written by Amy Kaczor RDN

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Valerian root is an herb native to Europe and Asia that many use medicinally to help relieve chronic insomnia, anxiety, and other disorders. However, is this popular herb safe for you to consume during your pregnancy? 

Unfortunately, many sources conclude that pregnant women should avoid the use of valerian root, including valerian root tea. Instead, opt for other teas and herbs such as peppermint and ginger. 

Let’s discuss more information regarding the safety of valerian root and how it can impact you during your pregnancy. Read on for more information!

Is Valerian Safe for Pregnancy?

Valerian root is not safe for pregnant women, whether it is in powder, aqueous extract, tablet, oil, or any other form.

Valerian root use dates back as early as the first century A.D., specifically for the treatment of insomnia (source: Journal of Evidence-Based Integrative Medicine).

A literature review found that a majority of studies examining valerian root and insomnia have positive results with a significant improvement in sleep quality and anxiety (source: Journal of Evidence-Based Integrative Medicine). However, the review found inconsistency in the quality of the valerian root itself, leading to inconsistent results.

dry valerian root in a glass bowl with spoon

While it seems to be safe for pregnant women in retrospective studies, scientists continue to recommend that pregnant women avoid the use of valerian root in all forms before of rare occurrences of malformations (source: Focus [American Psychiatric Publishing]).

This recommendation includes valerian powders, aqueous extracts, tablets, oils, and other supplements. 

There is simply just not enough information that we know about the safety and efficacy of valerian root use in pregnancy or breastfeeding (source: National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health [NCCIH]). 

It is also important to note that valerian root is considered a dietary supplement and is therefore regulated differently by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) when compared to foods and medications.

The FDA does not test for the safety or effectiveness of dietary supplements before they hit the market. However, the FDA does monitor for any adverse effects, but only after the herbal product is available on your grocery store shelves. 

Unusually, valerian is also considered unsafe for pregnancy if it is present in food amounts, such as on a salad

However, if you would still like to take an herbal supplement to improve your sleep, it is important to speak with your physician about your possible options. 

valerian tea in a glass cup on a wooden board

Can I Drink Valerian Tea When Pregnant? Is It Safe?

While valerian tea is known for its calming and sleep-inducing effects, unfortunately, tea made from valerian root herbs is also not considered safe for pregnancy. 

Valerian tea can be found on its own. However, it is also in many nighttime tea blends. Therefore, it is important to check the ingredients list of your favorite nighttime tea blend from the grocery store to ensure that valerian root is not present.

We’ve also written an in-depth guide to Sleepytime tea when pregnant, if you want to know more about that particular brand.

Instead, opt for a different warm and relaxing tea, such as peppermint tea or ginger tea

In conclusion, I hope this article helped break down the safety information of valerian root and valerian tea during your pregnancy.