Valerian is a perennial rhizomatous aromatic herb reaching up to 50cm in height. Leaves arise from the base and are heart shaped; flowers arise on the top of leafless stem. Rhizomes are yellowish brown, woody, unbranched and aromatic. It is found throughout the mid hill regions of Nepal within the altitude of 1500m to 3600m. The rhizomes are harvested from the wild by uprooting the whole plant during September-November. Cultivation of Valerian has started in some parts of Nepal.
Valerian oil is extracted from the steam distillation of rhizomes of Valeriana jatamansii. Yield percentage of Valerian oil ranged from 0.09% to 1.0% on dry weight basis. The amount of Valerian oil varies depending upon the age of the plant, habitat, and drying and storage method.
Other varieties as source of adulteration
Rhizomes of Valeriana hardwickii Wall.
Roots and rhizomes of V. jatamansii have been used for variety of complaints as nervous tension, restlessness, insomnia, migraine, intestinal colic, rheumatism and as pain reliever. In Europe, the oil has been used for cholera, epilepsy and for skin diseases. In China, it is used for backache, cold, menstrual problems, bruises and sores. V. jatamansii are used in different medication systems (Ayurvedic, Tibetan, Yunanietc) since the time immemorial.
Valerian oil has wide range of medicinal, aromatherapeutic and industrial uses. The oil has wide range of therapeutic properties (anodyne, antidandruff, diuretic, antispasmodic, depressant of the central nervous system etc). It is also used in pharmaceutical preparations and as fragrance and flavouring agents.
- Appearance:Fluid to slightly viscous liquid
- Colour:Yellowish green to brownish yellow
- Aroma:Warm woody, balsamic, musky odour and top note in fresh oils
- Specific gravity:0.930 to 0.970 at 20° C
- Optical rotation:[-] 35° to [-] 10° at 20° C
- Refractive index:1.470 to 1.485 at 20° C
- Acid number:0.5 to 2.5
- Ester number:8.23 to 37.28
- Ester number after acetylation:40 to 65
- Solubility:Soluble in alcohol andv oils. Insoluble in water
New groups of iridoid (valtrates or valepotriats) are isolated from roots and rhizomes which are used as tranquillizers and sedative. Root and rhizome contains flavonoids, alkaloids (chatinine and valerine), aliphatic acids, different steroids, phenols, saponins, naphtholic acid ad tannins. Valerian oil contains arcurcumene, α-, β- and γ-patchoulenes, calarene, β-bergamotene, maliol, α-fenchene, β-sitosterol, valeranone, iso-valeric and β methyl-valeric acids. However, composition of the oil varied considerably depending on the origin of the plant material. Patchouli alcohol was the main component in the oils of Nepalese valerian. The other components identified in commercially available rhizomes were γ- patchoulene, α- humulene, α-bulnesene, bornylisovalerate, and two unidentified components with a retention index of 1431 and 1645 respectively. The patchouli alcohol, and β-and γ-patchoulenes are considered to be characteristic for the oil of V. jatamansii as these compounds are not isolated from other Valeriana species.
Global status of Valeriana jatamansii is not known. It has vulnerable status in Nepal (CAMP 2001). It has been incorporated in the protection list of Government of Nepal and has been prioritized for conservation and economic development. Department of Forest, as per Forest Act 1993 and Forest Regulation 1995, banned the export of raw Valeriana jatamansii.