Does valerian disrupt thyroid function, endocrine system, and also increase estrogen?

The valerian root is phytoestrogenic herb and it is thought to increase the levels of estrogen:

Also, research shows that phytoestrogenic herbs are disrupting the endocrine system and thyroid function. Furthermore reducing the testosterone levels:

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/11984551_Effect_of_a_phytoestrogen_food_supplement_on_reproductive_health_in_normal_males

I gained weight while using valerian and my chiropractic doctor said that it seems to be because my body is producing more estrogen. So, I am wondering now if valerian could be the reason for that since I was using 1 gram every day for 2 years(to cope with anxiety). I did a research and found out about the statements above. So, I am worried now that if I continue it will result in detrimental consequences, from the prospective of testosterone and the endocrine system.

Now, actually I don’t want to stop using valerian root(I have stoped it temporarily until I find some answers), because it has tremendous benefits for me.

I just want to know if I should be concerned about the endocrine system, and the testosterone levels?

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If you are specifically concerned about testosterone levels in the blood, here is a talk that might give you some ideas about testing approaches: Max Gotzler: A Testosterone and Diet Experiment - Quantified Self.

Somewhere I have a paper reporting on the use of beard growth as a measure of testosterone changes — it’s a seemingly bizarre approach but I remember that it struck me as plausible when I read it. If you think you want to try it and I can dig it up.

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thanks for suggesting an article, but the thing that I am looking for is to find an anxiety-reducing medicine that has the least harm to my body and T levels. For now, I am taking passionflower and ashwagandha, they seem to work, but I am not 100% sure since the effects of valerian are still there. Furthermore, I am a bit not sure about the long use of passionflower, since it seems to be bad in the long run:
Taking Passion Flower for Anxiety: How Effective Is It? (calmclinic.com)

Also, I can see my T levels are a bit lower than before, (I am 22 years old) because my metabolism was very high throughout my life but now it has substantially reduced and I feel low energy.

My suggestion is that you might find a quicker route to understanding what affects your t levels by direct investigation, as the scientific literature is going to be complex and contradictory. I think it’s very unlikely you will find a clear scientific consensus about the likely effect of various herbal remedies at the specific doses on on your own T levels, but this insight may within reach of a structured self-research project in which you measure your T levels in response to various changes. Do you think there might be something in that approach?

If I had the opportunity to measure my T levels free of charge, then surely I would constantly do it to follow up with my health while taking different supplements. The other methods of looking at the beard to see if there is a testosterone increase don’t seem to be precise to me, but I still would like you to send me the link to the research if it is possible (since I am curious about it).

The problem with phytoestrogenic herbs, such as valerian, is that it is quite a complicated topic with many pitfalls. However, I believe that somewhere I should find an answer about it because this is a herb everyone uses.

So, are you against pharmaceutical treatments for anxiety? Valerian is a complicated herb with a non trivial side effect profile, RLS is a common one and sucks…I’ve had it, and I know psychiatrists can do this in their sleep with meds that actually work.

As for phytoestrogens you’ll find almost as many studies that seem to benefit androgens as they hurt them. Hypothesis being that they bind to estrogen receptors but are weaker than actual endogenous estrogen thus competing with receptor access. Anyway, I live by some phytoestrogens good, lots =bad. So I don’t fear soy for instance but don’t consume mountains of it either.

Anyway, good luck but I’m not sure you should look for psychoactive drugs in your local herb shop or garden. And if you’ve taken enough valerian to mess up your T… that says everything you need to know.

Yes, I have tried it and it sucks.

Restless leg syndrome is not a negative side effect of valerian, quite the opposite.

The amounts of valerian that I take per day is approximately 1.5 grams, very rarely it is 4 grams. I take a lot and I am aware about it, but it makes me feel so good that I want to continue taking it. Not only it decreases anxiety but makes me very sociable and fearless(sometimes a bit too indifferent). However, I am not sure about it is side effects to my health I don’t want to disrupt anything in my body, especially testosterone and estrogen.

I admittedly don’t have everything at hand to cite all of this etc (my apologies); that said, some potential considerations:

  1. (Assuming this is the case) I would be cautious of putting too much stock in a suggestion about increased estrogen levels resulting in weight gain without anything more definitive to back it up. Do you know what your estrogen levels were at some earlier point, or what they are now? Two years is long enough for many other potential factors to come into play.

  2. I think anxiety is a trickier thing to assess and quantify than it may seem at first glance, especially for people who have not experienced clinically-significant anxiety themselves, because there is overlap with “typical anxiety” but also major differences. Additionally, when you say “anxiety,” what type of anxiety do you mean? Even in looking at the DSM’s assessments of anxiety as a base, it’s mainly to do with collections of subjective experiences, rather than distinct objective measures. Yes, a lot of methodologically-objective research supports and informs it, but that arguably leaves a lot to be desired all the same. For your own quantification purposes, it may be more worthwhile to take a closer look at what your anxiety really “looks like,” and your conclusions there may be quite valuable in informing your pursuit of treatment for it.

  3. Any substance you’re consuming with the expectation that it will have an effect on your anxiety–assuming you take anxiety to be a brain-based phenomenon–is going to affect your brain (which is, of course, part of your body). That’s what you’re going for. Whether any of its effects are sufficiently damaging to that or other parts of your body to outweigh whatever benefits you’re getting from it is another matter.

  4. You mention that your testosterone levels are lower than they used to be and that your metabolism is reduced. What measures are you relying on for that? If it’s mainly that you feel you have less energy than you used to, that’s also a bit tricky, because it’s so broad and can be affected by so many things (again, I don’t have anything in particular to point to at the moment, but I think the general consensus is that being an adult–especially at first–is often a whole lot more tiring than being a kid/teen). In addition to however your own life may have changed from “before” to “now,” there’s also the pandemic, and I’ve seen no end of articles and psychologist interviews suggesting that greater stress, exhaustion, fatigue, etc are almost universal by now.

  5. As far as testosterone in particular… I’m by no means an endocrinologist, but many body metrics have a broad range of values that are still considered normal. Looking at this from the Mayo Clinic, reference values for total testosterone for a 22 year old male are 240-950 ng/Dl (dL?). Under “Cautions” it also states, “Testosterone levels can fluctuate substantially between different days, and sometimes even more rapidly. Assessment of androgen status should be based on more than a single measurement.” Obviously an endocrinologist (or even a GP) could better advise you, but I wouldn’t think a one-time value lower than another one-time value is necessarily a cause for concern, or indicative of anything significant.

  6. When you say in your most recent post “I have tried it and it sucks,” are you referring to “regular” pharmaceuticals? If so, I don’t at all mean to invalidate your experience (everyone reacts to various drugs differently and some of those reactions can definitely range from “seriously unpleasant” to “totally debiliating”), but have you perhaps tried drugs from different classes/that rely on different mechanisms, ideally from a prescriber you felt you had a reasonably good relationship/understanding with? Again, it depends somewhat on what type of anxiety issues you’re having, but you may find that some drugs are awful and some work out great (much like you may have better/worse results and more/fewer side effects with valerian root vs passionflower, etc). Again, not trying to give you medical advice, more a suggestion that with some closer examination you may be better able to identify what changes (whether pharmaceutical, lifestyle, cognitive, etc) give you the best results overall.

Ultimately, if what you’re looking for is a better understanding of the health of your endocrine system, it’s very difficult to come to a definitive conclusion without a solid background in medicine. This is often, frustratingly, expertise that is difficult to access–I definitely get that. But for giving you more of an established base to work from in your own endeavors, it may be the best thing.

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I would add to what @potato wrote that even with a solid background in medicine and clinical research, definitive individual-level answers about cause and effect relationships involving the endocrine system can be very difficult. Experienced clinicians helping with a problem like anxiety are likely going to have to use some trial-and-error methods, as advance certainty about will work for a specific person on their specific symptoms with tolerable side effects is going be low.

I think you might find it useful to attempt a purely observational stage first. Two good questions to ask:

  1. Do you have a measure of anxiety you are happy with, and is serviceable for long term measurement? (That is, not too burdensome.)

  2. Do you have a measure that you can take as a proxy for the low-T levels you are concerned about. Beard growth, in the project I mentioned, was evaluated by weighing the whiskers cut by an electric razor. That’s an idiosyncratic approach, I admit! But maybe there is something else that you could measure that would give you a handle on this phenomenon.

My 2 cents is that anxiety is mostly a function of learning and conditioning, which in turn is affected by your personal (cognitions, behaviors, and feelings) and social environment - your history and compensatory mechanisms so to speak. In most people (with notable exceptions) the biological factors not created by the foregoing are small. Try looking at anxiety through this lens rather than biosignals. Endocrine and other systems are strongly influenced CNS function.