Valerian / Valeriana officinalis
Actions: Anticonvulsant. Antispasmodic. Nervine. Carminative. Sedative. Emmenagogue. Anodyne.
Parts Used: Use the root, but don’t boil it! It's too high in volatile oils and you'll lose some of the goodness if you boil it. Make an infusion if you want to drink it as a tisane. If you are growing or harvesting your own, harvest the roots in the fall.
Personal: I have an intense appreciation for this powerfully quieting and soothing herb that has helped to quiet my racing mind many times. For years, if I was too excited or nervous to fall asleep I would take a capsule or dropperful of valerian root and I would finally be able to finally drift off when nothing else could help. In the morning I would feel refreshed, not groggy. Brilliant. In addition to helping with stress, valerian also helps the nervous system respond to pain.
It's a wonderful plant, but beware of the plant's strong dirty sock smell. Though you can take it as an infusion it's far more palatable as a tincture or capsule to minimize your experience of the taste and smell.