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  • Writer's pictureJames Keskimaki

The goddess of sleep

Updated: Jan 3

Valeriana sitchensis

Sitka Valerian

I love getting out into the mountains for a day or more. Especially when the snow has melted and all the flowers are in bloom. Just the other day I was fortunate enough to spend the night deep in the Siskiyou mountains. The Siskiyou range basically divides western California and western Oregon. If you have never been I highly recommend putting it on your bucket list of wild places to explore. This is the place that I first found Valerian growing in the wild over 15 years ago. I was so excited to finally find this most majestic plant and not to mention be able to harvest some for my own personal medicine.

Fast forward to the other day, I woke very early in the morning and hit the PCT trail curious to see what I was going to discover. I was really hoping for some wildlife sightings being the perfect time of day. But unfortunately that did not transpire but what did was the beginning of the wildflower season. Among the many wildflowers I saw were Arnica, Western Pasque Flower, Kishwoof, Indian paintbrush and many other little plants I do not know. But the one that stuck out the most for me was my old friend Valerian. It is always a pleasure to see her in full flower, shining her majestic white umbel flowers in the forest.

Valerian is most well known for its powerful sedative action if not its super strong smell of dirty socks as one might say. Most people don’t know valerian can be both stimulating and sedative. It is always recommended to start with a smaller dose to make sure you are not one of the 15% that gets super stimulated. I don’t want anyone trying to get a good night's sleep before a big day and think hey maybe this Valerian tincture will help me sleep and the next thing you know you are awake half the night lol. Not only does it relax the nervous system but it also relieves muscle cramps and spasms.

In Ayurveda Valerian raises Pitta because of its heating nature but is pacifying to both Vata and Kapha. It’s considered one of the best remedies for Vata as the antispasmodic qualities help stomach cramping and can also relieve gas in the intestines along with pain. Because of its warming action it is great for that Vata coldness. We find that people with a strong Pitta Constitution aka fiery, easy to anger, get frustrated, etc are the ones that get the stimulating effect from Valerian.

It is best to not take all the time, some frequent use is fine but it is not a take everyday type remedy. Also be aware that if you take a lot you may feel a bit hungover in the morning. Contraindicated when taking prescription sleep aids.

We make our Valerian extract with fresh root harvested way up high in the cascade mountains using pure 190% Organic Sugarcane Alcohol and Local Raw Wildflower Honey. Suggested dose is anywhere Between- 10 drops and 30 drops before bed.

Written and photo by James Keskimaki

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