It is a hormone secreted mainly by a small gland present in the brain called pineal gland or epiphysis. It is very important as it regulates the body’s circadian rhythm. Its secretion is regulated by light: when the light stimulus arrives at the retina, a signal is transmitted to the epiphysis that inhibite its secretion. The dark, on the other side, stimulates its release. For this reason melatonin has a peak at night and much lower values (nadir) during the day.


Its action is due to valerianics acids and to iridoids that have the ability to inhibit the acid enzyme γ-aminobutyric transaminase, responsible for the metabolic degradation of the neurotransmitter γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA). This chemical messenger is responsible for regulating neuronal excitability throughout the nervous system, of the sense of relaxation and sleep induction. For the presence of these agents, valerian has sedative, relaxing and hypnotics (that is sleep favoring) properties, reducing the time needed to fall asleep and improving its quality. For this reason, valerian is indicated in all sleep disorders and anxiety.


Its flavonoids perform an action on the central nervous system, especially at the level of sleep centers. Recently it has been shown that its active ingredients are able to bind to benzodiazepine receptors in the brain, thus explaining the soothing action of this plant, making it one of the most widely used herbal remedies in disorders of the nervous sphere.
Its main properties are the sedative and anxiolytic action which make this plant an extremely effective remedy to counteract insomnia, stimulating a physiological sleep without nocturnal awakenings, no sense of numbness in the morning, narcotic effects or addiction. It is therefore indicated in case of stress, anxiety and sense of anguish, in the forms of hysterical, phobic, obsessive and post-traumatic neurosis, in menopausal disorders, such as nervousness, irritability, depression, tachycardia, dyspnea, flushing.


Its seeds contain the 5-hydroxy-tryptophan (5-HTP), a precursor of serotonin, the hormone of well-being, which in the body is involved in various physiological functions, including regulation of mood, sleep and appetite.
Griffonia is indeed now used with good results as a natural antidepressant for the treatment of mild to moderate depression, anxiety, insomnia and seasonal depressions, as rising levels of serotonin and regulates the sleep-wake cycle.

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