Valerian is well known for its sedative qualities and its ability to relax the central nervous system and the smooth muscle groups. It has been used as a sleeping aid for hundreds of years especially when there is excitation or difficulty in falling to sleep due to nervousness. Over 120 chemical components are found in valerian and although a very complex herb, it has not been found to have any negative side effects with moderate use. It is calming without exerting too sedative an effect and is practically non-addictive. It is a valuable treatment for insomnia, the sedative effect due to the valepotriates and the isovaleric acid. At least two double-blind studies have demonstrated that valerian extract can significantly reduce the amount of time it takes people to fall asleep without changing the normal stages of sleep. Documented research has noted a mild hypnotic action in both normal sleepers and insomniacs, indicated by a beneficial effect on sleep latency, wake-time after sleep, frequency of waking, nocturnal motor activity, inner restlessness and tension and quality of sleep. Sleepiness and dream recall the morning after were unaffected. The valepotriates have a regulatory effect on the autonomic nervous system; research suggests that they have a calming effect on agitated people but are also a stimulant in cases of fatigue. Valerian is used in Europe as an antispasmodic, particularly for abdominal cramps due to nervousness and for uterine cramps and menstrual agitation. It helps relieve dysmenorrhoea and it can be of benefit in migraine and rheumatic pain. It may also be applied locally as a treatment for cramps and other muscle tensions.