This Northwest native, wildcrafted for us in California, is very different from its European relative, and has more tonic properties and broader usefulness.
Herbalists familiar with this plant consider it to be Shen, or serene-calm, but without the sedative or muddling effects that the stronger and less balanced European type has.
In our own and others’ experience, NW Valerian works to calm and smooth out agitated mental and emotional states and related physical tension, but still leaves the mind and thoughts focused and functional. In fact, most people familiar with his plant find that it actually sharpens the mind in a calm and centered way, creating a feeling of serene and solid strength and calm- this is the meaning of the Chinese concept of Shen.
According to one herbalist, this Valerian is a perfect antispasmodic and calmative for the right people; those with adrenaline-stress issues. These people have conflicting states of imbalance; they show hyper-functioning of mental stress and agitation with worry, insomnia, heart palpitations and shaky hands, but deficiency and poor functioning in digestion and respiration.
For these people, Valerian works perfectly to sedate the brain and nervous system but stimulate metabolic functions such as heartbeat, breathing and digestion.