Names: all-heal, Capon’s tail, Setwell, Cutheal, Treacle; Garden Heliotrope; Vandalroot; Phu, Amatilla, Set Well, Capon’s Tailor, St. George’s Herb, Setuale, Cat’s Valerian, English Valerian; Tagara; Walerian, Kozlek Lekarski (Polish); Baldrian (German)
Properties: tranquilizer, antispasmodic, expectorant, diuretic, lowers blood pressure, carminative, mild anodyne
History: The ‘officinalis’ in its botanical name means that Valerian root was used medicinally and sold in the shops of the druggists and apothecaries The Roman name vakere was derived from valor for courage. The root excites some animals, especially rats and cats. It is rumored that the famous Pied Piper of Hamelin owed his success in leading the rats out of the city to having had his pockets stuffed full of valerian rather than to his music! Valerian is still used by rat catchers. North American Indians snorted valerian powder to calm epileptic seizures. One story has that to attract a woman, a man must make a magic ouch that holds cayenne pepper, patchouli and valerian root. He must pick the valerian in the nude and stand on one foot as he says the name of the sought-after woman.
Valerian roothas a place in Nordic mythology where the goddess Hertha, used it as a riding whip when racing through the forest on her hops-bridled stag. The herb symbolized the appeasing powers that could tame a wild beast.