From capsules to teas, valerian root is a popular ingredient in many drugstore sleep remedies. There is good scientific evidence that it may improve the quality of sleep and reduce the time needed to fall asleep, according to the National Institutes of Health, especially when taken nightly for four to six weeks. (After that, valerian may actually cause insomnia.)
When Laura, 36, of Atlanta, decided to wean herself off prescription sleeping pills, her doctor suggested she try valerian. The potent capsuleswhich smell awful but don't have a bad taste, she sayswork for a week or two at a time, but then her body seems to get used to it.
Valerian is considered safe when taken as directed, but is not recommended for women who are pregnant or breast-feeding.