I may receive a commission for purchases made through product links on this page, but I always stand by my opinions and endorsements!
Trying to pick between 2 herbal supplements?
There’s so much to think about, including benefits, price, side effects and more.
So I’ve gone ahead and curated all of that info so you don’t have to.
No need to thank me!
Our Supplement Comparison Series continues with Ashwagandha vs Valerian Root.
Here’s whether you should take Ashwagandha or Valerian Root:
If you want to gain muscle, increase testosterone or reduce blood sugar levels, you should go for Ashwagandha. Whereas if you want to improve sleep or menopause symptoms, you should go for Valerian Root.
What is Ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha (Withania Sommnifera) is a small shrub native to India that’s been used for thousands of years for a range of conditions.
It belongs to the Solanaceae family of plants (also known as Nightshades) which include everyday vegetables like eggplants and potatoes.
It’s most well-known for its ability to promote feelings of calmness, vitality and strength in people.
The word Ashwagandha loosely translates to the phrase “the smell of a horse” in the ancient Sanskrit language, suggesting it can give you the strength of a stallion.
(And rumour has it, Ashwagandha root smells like horse sweat.)
What is Valerian Root?
Valerian Root (Valeriana Officinalis) is a herb native to Asia and Europe that’s known for its calming, sedative effects.
It’s been used in traditional medicine for over 2,000 years and is still widely used today for many different ailments, including insomnia.
The word Valerian is derived from the Latin verb Valere, which means “to be strong”.
Benefits of Ashwagandha
Ashwagandha may increase testosterone levels
Thanks to low-fat diets, poor sleep hygiene and less meat consumption, low testosterone levels are more widespread than you think nowadays.
But low testosterone levels are no laughing matter.
Research suggests that depression in aging men may be due to low testosterone levels.
And this is where Ashwagandha may be useful.
A study of 75 infertile men concluded that Ashwagandha supplementation can help boost seminal testosterone, vitamin, and antioxidant levels.
Ashwagandha may help lower blood sugar levels
Your blood sugar levels are kept in a very tight range to keep you healthy and alive.
But when you eat sugary junk food, these levels spike rapidly.
So to keep you alive, a massive amount of Insulin is released to bring them back down.
This sudden drop in blood sugar can make you feel tired, hangry and fatigued.
(Which often results in you eating more sugary food and starting this vicious cycle off again.)
So to avoid this trap, you want to avoid your blood sugar levels from spiking in the first place.
Well, the good news is that Ashwagandha has been shown to lower blood sugar levels in a few studies.
One of these studies had 12 people take Ashwagandha daily for 30 days.
By the end of the study, their blood sugar levels were lowered by amounts similar to that of a blood sugar lowering drug!
Ashwagandha may increase muscle size and strength
Although Ashwagandha is pretty much unheard of in the bodybuilding community, it appears to be very effective for those wanting to pack on muscle mass.
A study of 57 people looked at how Ashwagandha affected their muscle size and strength.
Some of the subjects took 600mg of Ashwagandha each day and the others took a placebo.
Interestingly, the Ashwagandha takers had greater increases in fat loss, muscle size, muscle strength and testosterone levels than the placebo takers.
Ashwagandha may help improve Anxiety
It’s sad to see that in our day and age, more than 40 million American adults suffer from anxiety.
In fact, this makes anxiety the most common mental illness in the US.
The good news is that numerous studies have shown Ashwagandha’s effectiveness at improving anxiety symptoms.
For example, one study compared anxiety levels in people taking Ashwagandha or a placebo.
After 6 weeks, 88% of those who took Ashwagandha reported less anxiety.
Another study had its participants take 600mg of Ashwagandha or a placebo each day.
After 2 months, those who took Ashwagandha had significantly better scores on the “stress test” compared to the placebo takers.
Benefits of Valerian Root
Valerian Root may improve sleep quality
Valerian Root is most renown for its ability to treat sleep issues and disorders.
The pleasing news is this ability has been backed up by research too.
For example, a study of 16 insomnia patients investigated how Valerian Root impacted their sleep latency.
The results showed that those who took Valerian Root achieved deep sleep 8 minutes faster than the placebo takers.
Another study looked at how Valerian Root supplementation affected sleep quality.
Compared with a placebo, the Valerian Root showed a significant effect on poor sleep.
In fact, 89% of the Valerian Root takers reported improved sleep, and 44% reported perfect sleep.
Valerian Root may help you relax
In today’s day and age, trying to relax while facing the stress of everyday life can be a challenge.
For this reason, many people look towards supplements, such as Valerian Root, to help them relax.
Both human and animal studies support the use of Valerian Root for relaxation.
For example, in one study, rats who used Valerian Root before a maze experiment showed less anxious behaviour than rats given alcohol.
Another study showed that a 600mg dose of Valerian Root with Lemon Balm reduced anxiety in people performing a stressful task.
(Interestingly, those who took a 1800mg dose had more anxiety, which suggests there may be a “sweet spot” for dosage.)
Valerian Root may improve menopause symptoms
During menopause, a woman’s estrogen levels decline which can often result in some unwanted symptoms, such as:
- Hot flashes
- Mood swings
- Sleep problems
- Vaginal dryness
If you’re experiencing some of these symptoms, then you may want to give Valerian Root a try as it’s shown some promise in a few studies.
In one study, menopausal women who took 765mg of Valerian Root daily for 8 weeks reported less severe and frequent hot flashes.
In another study, menopausal women who took 1060mg of Valerian Root daily for 4 weeks had significantly better sleep.
Ashwagandha is typically sold as tablets or as a liquid extract.
Here are some general prices for these:
- Tablets: $18 for 100
- Liquid extract: $17 for 2 Oz
Valerian Root Cost
Valerian Root is sold in many different forms, including capsules, powder and as a liquid extract.
Some typical prices for these are:
- Powder: $28 for 1 lb
- Capsules: $7 for 100
- Liquid extract: $19 for 2 Oz
Ashwagandha Side Effects
Most people tolerate Ashwagandha supplements fairly well, but some people have reported side effects like headaches, sleepiness and upset stomach in clinical studies.
Also, since Ashwagandha can lower your blood sugar levels, then please consult a doctor before taking it if you’re diabetic or are taking medication to lower your blood sugar levels.
The following people should NOT take Ashwagandha:
- Pregnant women
- People with stomach ulcers
- Those with high/low blood pressure
- People who’re allergic to Nightshade plants, i.e. Potatoes, Tomatoes, etc.
- People with autoimmune conditions, i.e. Multiple Sclerosis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, etc.
Valerian Root Side Effects
While most people can take Valerian Root with little trouble, the following side effects have been reported in some cases:
- Vivid dreams
- Upset stomach
- Heart palpitations
Furthermore, Valerian Root should be used with caution if you’re taking the following drugs, as it may interact with them:
- St. John’s wort
- Sedatives (i.e. other sleep aids)
And due to a lack of safety information, young children and pregnant women should avoid Valerian Root until further research has been done.
My Ashwagandha Recommendation: NaturaLife Labs Ashwagandha
High strength, high quality, and fantastic value for money.
NaturaLabs Life Ashwagandha deservedly gets the gold star.
What I like about it
The many excellent reviews show that this is a trusted Ashwagandha supplement, that’s loved and rated by loads of people.
Also, I love that the Ashwagandha in these capsules is mixed with black pepper extract.
This is a great addition as research has shown that Ashwagandha is absorbed and used better when mixed with black pepper extract.
It’s pleasing to see that this supplement contains only organic, natural ingredients too, so you don’t have to fret about any nasty, unnatural chemicals and preservatives.
The serving is 3 capsules which may be a pain if swallowing capsules isn’t your thing.
(I’m more of a powder guy myself.)
But apart from that, this is as close to the perfect Ashwagandha supplement you’ll see.
My Valerian Root Recommendation: NOW Valerian Root
A high-quality Valerian Root supplement from world-renowned brand.
And with a reasonable price, you can’t go wrong with NOW Valerian Root.
What I like about it
NOW are the clear industry leaders when it comes to providing top quality supplements.
They’re GMP certified, which basically means that every single aspect of their manufacturing process has been overseen for quality assurance.
This is one of many reasons why they’re one of the most trusted supplement brands there is.
Also, with over 1,000 outstanding reviews, it’s quite clear that this is an excellent supplement that many different people have had great results with.
For its quality, it’s fairly priced too making it a brilliant budget option.
Some people have reported that the capsules have a strange smell to them.
But apparently that’s quite normal with any Valerian Root supplement.
Can You Take Ashwagandha And Valerian Root Together?
There are some supplements out there which contain both Ashwagandha and Valerian Root, which suggests that they can be taken together.
That being said, you should always consult a medical doctor before starting a new supplement regimen.
Ashwagandha vs Valerian Root: The Verdict
I really hope you’ve enjoyed this Ashwagandha vs Valerian Root breakdown.
These are both epic herbal supplements that offer such a wide range of benefits.
And if I’ve done my job properly, you know exactly which one you’re going to take and have great results with!
If not, then for a high-level guide, here’s what I would recommend:
You might prefer Ashwagandha if:
- You want to gain some solid muscle mass
- You want to lower your blood sugar levels
- You want to boost your testosterone levels
You might prefer Valerian Root if:
- You want the cheaper option
- You want to improve your sleep
- You want to relieve menopause symptoms
Hope this helped!
I’ve been in the fitness and strength training industry for nearly a decade. In that time, I’ve gained 30 pounds of muscle, written hundreds of articles, and reviewed dozens of fitness supplements. As for my educational background, I’m a currently studying for my Active IQ Level 3 Diploma in Personal Training.