Natural Order—Valerianaceae. Linnean System: Class 3, Triandria; Order 1st, Monogynia.
This is a tall, handsome wild plant, found growing by the sides of lakes, canals and ditches, in marshes, swampy places, moist meadows, pastures and woods, and among rubbish. It grows to from 2 to 4 feet high, and even more in some places. The stalks are round, thick, and furrowed, upright, hollow, and of a pale green colour. The leaves are large and beautiful, pinnatifid—that is, they are each composed of several smaller leaves, set on each side of a common mid-rib, with a terminal one at the end—opposite each other on the main stem. It also has a large number of radical leaves. The leaves are pale green, long, narrow, a little hairy, and dented. The flowers are pale rose or whitish, and grow in tufts on the top of the main stem and its branches. It is a perennial, and flowers from June till August. The flowers each contain three stamens and one pistil.
Medicinal Properties: Nervine, Tonic, Diuretic, and gently Stimulant.
For nervous headache, powdered Valerian given in half-teaspoonful doses two or three times a day is very beneficial. One or two grains of Cayenne added to each dose is often an improvement. The English Valerian is, we think, best taken alone; that is, without any other nervine or tonic. This plant should never be boiled. The root should be well powdered, and boiling water poured upon it, and a covered vessel, which retains the medicinal properties, should be used. As a nerve tonic, put 1-oz. to one pint of boiling water. Let it go cold, and take a small wineglassful four times a day.
It may be used in combination with Skullcap, Vervain, and Mistletoe, and made into a decoction by boiling half an ounce of each in three pints of water down to one quart. When cold, take one wineglassful four times a day for restlessness, insomnia, neuralgia, and general nervous debility. For children suffering from measles, scarlet fever, and other diseases which make them restless, small doses of the infusion of Valerian, given two or three times a day, and especially in the evening, will produce sound and placid sleep, from which they will awaken quite refreshed.
Health from British Wild Herbs was written by Richard Lawrence Hool, N.A.M.H., in 1918.