I’m not just going for a catchy headline here – turns out that valerian root is not only a powerful anxiolytic (natural chill out pill) overall, it’s also an antihistamine which helps with menstrual cramps. I mean seriously, the study is actually called:
Relaxing effects of Valeriana officinalis extracts on isolated human non-pregnant uterine muscle.
Valerian extracts may have direct inhibitory effects on the contractility of the human uterus and this justifies the traditional use of this plant in the treatment of uterine cramping associated with dysmenorrhoea….Valerian extract reduced the maximal contractile response induced by acetylcholine, phenylephrine and histamine…Read the full study here.
Told ya I wasn’t making it up! When I was high histamine it was literally impossible to sleep. I would be up for days at a time. Very handy when I was a journalist working in war zones, but not so great when I have a 9am meeting to go through someone’s digital strategy. Generally when people tell me they’re very low histamine I ask how their sleep is. It’s a great indicator of how you’re doing diet-wise. I’m not discounting stress, but we know that also causes mast cell degranulation too!
Now while the studies I read on valerian took great pains to stress that it’s not a hypnotic which knocks you into sleep, it’s an anxiolytic that reduces stress, helping you drop off. Ever wondered why antihistamines make you sleepy? There are a number of reasons – among them is that histamine controls your cicadian rythm/wakefulness hormones, so taking an anti-histamine would naturally make you fall asleep. Given that we know antihistamines make us fat and can cause toxicity syndrome, exploring natural antihistamine herbs could help lull you to sleep.
Please do remember that many of us with histamine issues don’t do great with herbs and that they thin the blood, but I still find these herbs a great substitute for my once ubiquitous nightly glass of red wine. I brew mine into a tea and try a sip. If my nose doesn’t stuff up then I go for it. I’ll be posting my findings over the next few days as I round up the rest of my research. I find that the best way to get a good night’s sleep is to stay low histamine and not eat too late. The not eating late thing is pretty obvious – I like to let the histamine unleash its worst before I’m getting ready for bed. I also try to do a little (very) light relaxation yoga where I pretty much just hang out upside down for about 30 minutes…
If you’re looking for low histamine inspiration, don’t forget to check out my low histamine recipe books.