This section of the book is from "The Complete Herbalist" by Dr. O. Phelps Brown. Also available from Amazon: The Complete Herbalist: The People Their Own Physicians By The Use Of Nature's Remedies.
COMMON NAME. Great Wild Valerian.
MEDICINAL PART. The root.
Description. -- This is a large herb, with a perennial, tuberous, fetid root, most aromatic when growing in dry pastures, and a smooth, hollow, furrowed stem, about four feet in height. The leaves are pinnate, opposite; leaflets, from seven to ten pairs, lanceolate, coarsely serrated, and on long foot-stalks. The flowers are flesh-colored, small, and fragrant.
History. -- Valerian is a European plant, growing in wet places, or even in dry pastures, flowering in June and July. Several varieties grow in America, and are used, but the English Valerian is by all odds the best. The officinal part is the root. The taste of the root is warm, camphoraceous, slightly bitter, somewhat acrid, and nauseous. The odor is not considerable; it is fetid, characteristic, and highly attractive to cats, and, it is said, to rats also. Besides valerianic acid, the root contains starch, albumen, valerianin, yellow extractive matter, balsamic resin, mucilage, valerianate of potassa, malates of potassa and lime, and phosphate of lime and silica.
Properties and Uses. -- Valerian excites the cerebro-spinal system. In large doses it causes headaches, mental excitement, visual illusions, giddiness, restlessness, agitation, and even spasmodic movements. In medicinal doses it acts as a stimulating tonic, anti-spasmodic, and calmative. It is temporarily beneficial in all cases where a nervous stimulant is required. The extract is worthless. The infusion and fluid extract contain all the virtues of the plant.
Dose. -- Of the infusion, one or two fluid ounces, as often as may be prescribed by a physician.