monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes, and carboxylic compounds
low levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)
Certain compounds in valerian, called valerenic acid and valerenol, can act on GABA receptors in the body.
GABA is a chemical messenger that helps regulate nerve impulses in your nervous system.
It’s one of the main neurotransmitters responsible for sleep regulation, and increasing the amount of GABA available in your body has sedative effects (4Trusted Source).
Valerenic acid and valerenol can modulate GABA receptors and increase the amount of GABA available in the central nervous system. What’s more, research has shown that valerenic acid inhibits an enzyme that destroys GABA (3Trusted Source).
Compounds in valerian may also interact with receptors for serotonin and adenosine, chemicals that play important roles in the regulation of sleep and mood (1Trusted Source).
Additionally, preliminary research suggests that valepotriates — the compounds that give valerian its characteristic pungent smell — may have anti-anxiety and antidepressant effects in the body (1Trusted Source).
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