Natural Anxiety, Insomnia Relief with Valerian and St. John’s Wort

I’ve been talking with a friend who is a survivor of lifelong depression. She’s tried various medications throughout the years, even St. John’s Wort and Valerian as herbal remedies, until she found something that works well for her.  There’s such a freedom in finding relief, especially if you have something as debilitating as depression and anxiety can be.  My younger brother Bobby, and my father both suffered from depression.  Both died by suicide.  Relief is exactly what I felt when each had passed, knowing the daily struggles they went through.  I think I’ve always been the lucky one. Mom called me the strong one, but I just never found life to be a struggle and things have come fairly easily for me.  Not so for my younger brother who dropped out of high school and got involved with some shady doings; not so for my father who had a 6th grade education and had a family to support since the time he was 13 years old.  By the time I came along, they were ready for a golden child.  So I got braces and dance lessons while my two older brothers got abandoned.

What we didn’t know until the 1960’s was that our father was what they now call bipolar.  His big mood swings and deep depressions were aggravated by alcoholism and addiction to pain killers after an accident left him disabled.  So I grew up seeing firsthand what anxiety and depression can cause people to become, how it can de-press, press the creat-ive part of them down, into dormancy for weeks, months, years.

I’ve seen the struggles with and without medication.  A typical symptom is thinking you have your own dosage under control, and you begin to play with it.  Soon enough you’re out of balance, and the cycle begins again.  My friend Pattie is smart enough to know that when she begins to feel that she can regulate her own medication, she now knows that’s a signal that she’s off her optimum dosage and to get back on it.  She writes herself notes.  She enlists my help in asking her about her dosage if I notice her acting out of balance.  And we both know another symptom is fibbing about your dosage and pretending everything is fine *smile*

I agree these are worrisome times for those who do not take steps to connect with their own inner guidance, to feel safe and secure in a world where every screen you pass warns you of bad news and hard times to come.  My friend Slade Roberson writes:  “I am not participating in any kind of recession and I also view all that madness from a much different perspective — a long term view of growing pains and transformation. I do think the current system is undergoing tremendous change, but I prefer the word Renovation. The economic system we’ve known in recent human history is not coming back — something new is emerging in its place. I have faith that this is desirable; it’s Good News. In February, I saw the results of a CNN Gallup Research Poll that said basically (paraphrased):

75% of the people polled said that they think the global economy is in horrible shape.
75% of the people polled said that their own personal financial situations are unchanged/ unaffected.
end of

I agree with that.  Very few people that I actually know have suffered any decline as of yet in their business or finances.  Many are thriving. Yet we scare ourselves to death over “what might happen.”  And it’s not just the people who have been diagnosed with clinical depression, or insomnia or an anxiety disorder who could use some balance.  We can tell if we’re stressed and not having fun.

When I’m feeling stressed and rushed and overwhelmed, I know I could use some balance myself.  That’s when I began researching about natural, herbal alternatives and came across Valerian and St. John’s Wort, which affect the same brain pathways as anti-anxiety drugs like Xanax.   Read more: Valerian and St. John’s Wort for Anxiety

A Psychology Today Article says St. John’s wort is often used for alleviating anxiety, stress, seasonal affective disorder, insomnia and depression. James Duke, an ethnobotanist and author of The Green Pharmacy calls it “simply the best herbal treatment for depression.”   Like serotonin-reuptake inhibitors, St. John’s wort is believed to work by allowing more serotonin to linger in the brain, as low serotonin levels have been linked with depression. The herb may also lower levels of the protein interleukin-6.  High levels of this protein are also associated with depression.
end of Psychology today excerpt

I’ve known about Valerian for years and always carry it with me when I travel.  I’ll take 3 tablets an hour before bed, each tablet is 800 mg standardized.  Always get standardized, that ensures you will get an absorbable dosage as labelled. To me it’s the same as taking a Valium.

So when my friend Pattie began taking her new depression medication, I began taking a St. John’s Wort trial run, one 300mg standardized, three times a day with meals.  I’m not depressed, or even under much stress, but I wanted to see what’s the buzz about St. John’s Wart as a mood enhancer and anxiety reliever.

Right away I noticed that, taken with the 3 Valerian that first night, I went down for the count.  I felt totally relaxed.  Definitely wouldn’t want to drive.  And also didn’t want to work and didn’t want to check email.  That was one effect I noticed: my sense of urgency in responding to emails and phone calls was diminished.  I mean, I still returned calls and responded to emails, but I didn’t feel every moment I was relaxing that I should be checking email instead.  I didn’t have thoughts of work running through my head 24/7.

It felt okay to let six hours in a row go by without checking email.  That’s called overnight to most people. In the next few days, I could tell the SJW was making me more relaxed, because I even walked out of the office several times without a stack of proofreading in my hand.  I even walked into the garden without the pruning shears in a pocket.  I even walked to the mailbox without the mail in my hand.  Oops.. ok, different kind of side effect, maybe a little too relaxed…

I couldn’t tell if I was in a better mood because I wasn’t in a bad mood before I began taking the SJW.   I find I’m more eager to tackle doing math and calculations, jobs I typically only do when I have to do them.  I find it’s kind of fun getting into numbers when I am not stressed about them.  Balancing checkbooks, stuff like that seem like no big deal, rather than something to put off until the last minute.  That’s a cool side effect.

One side effect I am getting used to is the sunlight sensitivity.  I usually don’t need sunglasses in the car thanks to a good window tinting job, but now I wear them because the glare gets to me.  Anytime I am outside in the daytime, I wear them.

So if you’re feeling some stress and are smart enough to not want to get on the pharmaceutical hamster wheel, read the above articles and see if Valerian and St. John’s Wort are for you, then give them a trial run.  I buy mine at a big discount online at

Share your success stories with me, as you relax back into well being.. naturally.

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