Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) root contains mono- and sesquiterpenes, and iridoid triesters (valepotriates). Preparations are sometimes standardized on valerenic acid content. Valerian has no specific uses in nursing mothers, but is most commonly used to treat anxiety and sleep disturbances, and occasionally for self-treatment of postpartum blues or depression.[1,2] No data exist on the safety and efficacy of valerian in nursing mothers or infants. In general, valerian is well tolerated, with side effects such as dizziness, hangover or headache reported occasionally. Valerian is "generally recognized as safe" (GRAS) for use in food by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Valerian is often not recommended during lactation because of the theoretical concerns over its valepotriates and baldrinals which have been shown to be cytotoxic and mutagenic in vitro. Because there is no published experience with valerian during breastfeeding, an alternate therapy may be preferred, especially while nursing a newborn or preterm infant.
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