This is an interesting plant. The root has the medicinal value, and it can be used as a tea, as a poultice, or in pill form.
The most important use of valerian is as a tranquilizer, and it was used for this purpose during the Blitz in England during World War 11. Valerian may be used to try to overcome body spasms, to sedate an anxious or overstressed person, or to overcome a crying spell.
Culpeper added valerian root to raisins, aniseeds, and licorice for a cough quieter, and other herbalists use the tincture of valerian, or a poultice from the roots, for compress relief on painful rheumatic or swollen joints. It may also be used in bathwater for this same purpose.
While the root doesn't smell wonderfully to us, it is powerfully attractive to cats and rats. Some think the legendary Pied Piper of Hamelin may have carried valerian root hidden on his body.
I like valerian in a tiny discote (pill), and thus far I think the best of these pills come from Kiehl's Pharmacy, Third Avenue and 13th Street, New York City. "Bio Nutritional Products", P.O. Box 389, Harrison, New York, 10528, sells the organic Walther Schoenberger (fresh) valerian juice.
Tincture of Vaterian To make your own tincture for bath or compress:
4 ounces of the valerian powder
2 pints ninety proof alcohol additional for dilution
Moisten the fine powder, dilute it slightly with the additional alcohol. Pack the powder into a Chemex "coffee" parchment and pour the 2 pints of ninety proof alcohol over the herb. Let it drip down. Strain out any powder that has seeped through, and pass the alcohol through the powder once again. Pour the liquid into a dark, labeled jar.
Dilute some tincture, heat it up, and pour over a folded cloth, and apply somewhat dry, but hot, to swollen joints.
Bath Add some drops of tincture to a warm bath to relieve pain of rheumatic attack.