Botanical Name Valeriana jatamansii Jones
Synonyms V. Wallichii DC.,
Family Valerianaceae (Caprifoliaceae)
Local Name Sugandhawal, Samayo
English Name Valerian, True Valerian

Plant Description

Valerian is a perennial rhizomatous aromatic herb reaching up to 50cm in height. Leaves arise from the base and are heart-shaped; flowers appear on the top of the leafless stem. Rhizomes are yellowish brown, woody, unbranched, and aromatic. It is found throughout the mid-hill regions of Nepal at an altitude of 3600m (1500 to 3600m). The rhizomes are harvested from the wild by uprooting the whole plant in September-November. The cultivation of Valerian has started in some parts of Nepal.


Valerian oil is extracted from the steam distillation of rhizomes of Valeriana jatamansii. The yield percentage of Valerian oil ranged from 0.09% to 1.0% (0.5%-2.12%) on a dry weight basis. The amount of Valerian oil varies depending upon the age of the plant, habitat, and drying and storage method.


It is used for various medicinal purposes in the Indian, British, and Chinese Pharmacopoeia. Valerenic acid and valepotriates isolated from the species are often used for drug preparation. The species has also been reported as a psychopharmacological agent and a natural source of valepotriates. The presence of valerenic acid and valerinone in V. jatamansi is a source of drug valerian. The naturally occurring valepotriates/iridoids are the most active ingredient of this species, which possesses various activities such as antibacterial, anticancer, anticoagulant, antifungal, anti‐inflammatory, antioxidative, antiprotozoal, hepatoprotective, and neuroprotective. V. jatamansi has a long history of uses and is mentioned as a medicine in the Rigveda, Charka Samhita, and modern medicines. The species is used for its aromatic, stimulant, carminative, and antispasmodic activity. As an ingredient, the species is used in the preparation of 39 Ayurvedic formulations. This species is also used in the treatment of epilepsy, hysteria, and urinary troubles. The dry roots of V. jatamansi are used to remove the foul odor of the mouth caused by tooth trouble. Crushed leaves of the plant are rubbed on the forehead in extreme headaches. Dry rhizomes are used in perfumes, the blackening of hair, and as incense. The roots are employed for the treatment of head and eye troubles, diseases related to blood, liver, and spleen, kidney ulcers, wounds, cardiac debility, dry cough, asthma, chronic fever, and intermittent fever. Furthermore, the species is known to cure obesity, skin diseases, anxiety, insanity, failing reflexes, hysteria, neurosis, sciatica, tranquilizer, emmenagogue, and snake poisoning.

Organoleptic Properties

Appearance: Fluid to slightly viscous liquid
Colour: Yellowish green to brownish yellow
Aroma: Warm woody,balsamic,musky odour and top note in fresh oils

Active Constituents

New groups of iridoid (valtrates or valepotriats) are isolated from roots and rhizomes which are used as tranquilizers and sedatives. Roots and rhizomes contain flavonoids, alkaloids (chatinine and valerine), aliphatic acids, different steroids, phenols, saponins, naphtholic acid, and tannins. Valerian oil contains Isovaleric acid, Calarene, arcurcumene, and α -fenchene, 13-sitosterol, valeranone, β-methyl-valeric acids, and maailene. However, the 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 β-gurjunene, β-patchoulene, α-humulene, α -bulnesene, bornyl isovalerate, and two unidentified components. The patchouli alcohol and patchoulenes are considered to be characteristic of the oil of V. jatamansii as these compounds are not isolated from other Valeriana species.

Physico-Chemical Properties

Specific gravity 0.930 to 0.980 at 20°C?>
Optical rotation [-] 35°to [-]10°at 20°C?>
Refractive index 1.470 to 1.512 at 20°C?>
Acid number 0.5 to 2.5
Ester number 40 to 65
Solubility Soluble in alcohol and oils. Insoluble in water

Conservation Status

The global status of Valeriana jatamansii is not known. It has vulnerable status in Nepal (CAMP 2001). It has been incorporated into the protection list of the 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.