Valerian, Indian

Medical Herbs Catalogue


Valerian, Indian

Botanical Name: Valeriana Wallichii (DE CANDOLLE)
Family: N.O. Valerianaceae
Synonym: Tagar.

Indian Valerian is a perennial, herbaceous plant, indigenous to India, being found in the temperate Himalayan region. The dried rhizome and rootlets are used for medicinal purposes, and the drug is known in India as 'tagar.' It possesses stimulant and antispasmodic properties, and is official in the Indian and Colonial Addendum for use in the Eastern Colonies. The chief preparation of the drug is Tinctura Valerianae Indicae Ammoniata. Indian Valerian is practically identical in its composition with the European drug, but contains a slightly larger amount of volatile oil. It may be employed in the same way as Valerian, but is more used as a perfume than in medicine. It is largely employed in preparations for the hair, and the dried rhizome is used as incense.

It occurs in commerce in crooked pieces of a dull brown colour, about 2 inches long, and from 1/4 to 1/2 inch in diameter, with a number of bracts at the crown and blunt at the lower extremity. The rhizome is marked with transverse ridges and studded thickly with prominent circular tubercles to a few of which thick rootlets may be attached. The crown usually bears the remains of the leafstalks. In transverse section it is dark, with a large pith and diffuse ring of small woodbundles. The drug is very hard and tough, and shows a greenish-brown surface when fractured. This and its crooked form distinguish it from Common Valerian. Its colour, due to the presence of volatile oil resembles that of ordinary Valerian rhizome, but is much stronger. The chief constituent of the drug is this oil, but it also contains valerianic and other organic acids, together with resin, tannin, etc. As in the case of ordinary Valerian, the valerianic acid is probably formed by the gradual decomposition of other constituents present in the volatile oil.

Preparations: Tincture Valerianae Indicae Ammoniata.

The INDIAN NARD, or Spikenard, sometimes called Syrian Nard, is still occasionally to be found in commerce. It is a small, delicate root, from 1 to 3 inches long, beset with a tuft of soft, light brown, slender fibres, of an agreeable odour and a bitter aromatic taste. It was formerly very much esteemed as a medicine, but is now almost out of use. Its properties are analogous to those of Valerian, but it must not be confused with Indian Valerian.