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Thread: Valerian

  1. #1
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    Default Valerian

    I have a vial of valerian root essential oil and it is STINKY! I had to double bag it. It's got a sour, intense rotten vegetable and vegetal musky characteristic that is BEGGING to be used to great effect in combination with something much sweeter. I think it would work great with white flowers, adding a real decadent depth, but I haven't had time to experiment. Valerian is not listed in any note pyramids in the Basenotes Fragrance Directory.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Valerian

    I've never smelled the oil, but I have the herbal tea. And it stinks pretty much as you say (I'd call it concentrated dirty socks). I think the herbal tea is usually mixed with large quantities of other pleasant stuff like chamomille to make it palatable.

    I also grew the plant a few years. The flowers are cute white clouds and don't smell bad, and the fresh root has a good smell. But once you dry it, it develops the characteristic odor. I put the roots in the oven to dry, and soon the house was filled with the stench.

    Good idea about adding it to flowers. However, I'm afraid the effect could be something like the swampy effect of the drydown of many florals (Bas de Soie, Love in white, Eden).

    cacio

  3. #3

    Default Re: Valerian

    I'm guessing that it has been used before in perfumes but isn't listed in the notes due to it not sounding appealing, especially if people read the descriptions of it that describe it smelling like cacio has said - dirty socks!
    Last edited by SculptureOfSoul; 2nd July 2011 at 03:10 PM.
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  4. #4

    Default Re: Valerian

    From Wikipedia:

    An unusual feature of valerian is that the essential oil of valerian root is a cat attractant similar to catnip. Valerian contains the cat attractant actinidine. Cat attractants might mimic the odor of cat urine,[citation needed] which is caused by 3-mercapto-3-methylbutan-1-ol (MMB). Anecdotal reports claim that valerian is also attractive to rats—so much so that it had been used to bait traps. Stories describe the Pied Piper of Hamelin using both his pipes and valerian to attract rats.

    It does have strong odor and I would never want to smell of it.

    But it has an anxiolytic effect and I have used it (the root in capsule form, that is) many times to facilitate a restful night of sleep.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Valerian

    Yeah I got some natural valerian (+ passiflora) pills from my chiropractor for a neck strain as a natural muscle relaxant. The pills stink to high heaven

  6. #6

    Default Re: Valerian

    I enjoy the sour aroma and think it blends well with woods. I have diluted mine to 5% so it is mild and gives an edge to a composition.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Valerian

    Quote Originally Posted by scentsitivity View Post
    It does have strong odor and I would never want to smell of it.
    Nor would I.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Valerian

    Valerian is the odor of stinky feet and wet dogs. Iso-valeric acid I believe is the chemical in sweat and valerian that gives it its smell. Sometimes armpits have this smell too. Same chemical is involved, for humans and canines.

    It's an ironic substance, in that the weaker the concentration, the grosser and more stinky it is. It's actually more pleasant straight and concentrated, as you get more green. But this is a useless insight.

    This is one where you want to explore alternative versions of it, such as CO2 or absolute, as the alternative versions are more multifaceted, balsamic, rich and mellow.

    It is literally a human musk note. It's an animal scent. Only traces are needed to get the effect. I love it, and feel it's one of the more important substances for natural perfuming.

    Further, the aromatherapy effect is similar to valium, profoundly relaxing. The drug Valium is related to valerian, and, I have heard, can be synthesized from it. If you smell valerian deeply, you will immediately discover the relaxing aspect. It's a muscle relaxant like valium.
    Last edited by DrSmellThis; 16th April 2013 at 05:44 PM.

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    Default Re: Valerian

    Quote Originally Posted by DrSmellThis View Post
    Valerian is the odor of stinky feet and wet dogs. Iso-valeric acid I believe is the chemical in sweat and valerian that gives it its smell. Sometimes armpits have this smell too. Same chemical is involved, for humans and canines.

    It's an ironic substance, in that the weaker the concentration, the grosser and more stinky it is. It's actually more pleasant straight and concentrated, as you get more green. But this is a useless insight.

    This is one where you want to explore alternative versions of it, such as CO2 or absolute, as the alternative versions are more multifaceted, balsamic, rich and mellow.
    Nice tip.

    It is literally a human musk note. It's an animal scent. Only traces are needed to get the effect. I love it, and feel it's one of the more important substances for natural perfuming.

    Further, the aromatherapy effect is similar to valium, profoundly relaxing. The drug Valium is related to valerian, and, I have heard, can be synthesized from it. If you smell valerian deeply, you will immediately discover the relaxing aspect. It's a muscle relaxant like valium.
    Agree that it's important for natural perfumery . . . rare to find a plant ingredient with this much animalic character and intensity.

    But getting the anxiolytic effect from just smelling it? Maaaaaaaaybe a little . . . I think you have to ingest it to truly get that effect.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Valerian

    For me, and for my customers of a perfume I used it in, the relaxing effect from smelling it was quite obvious. Maybe you have to be used to evaluating things from an aromatherapy perspective, being immediately sensitive to where you notice it. It's not like ingesting it, where it puts you to sleep, but honestly, I wouldn't describe it as completly subtle either. I don't mean this in a foofy, new age sense. Give it a few deep inhales, lol. Try it with an open mind. Let friends try it. I'd be suprised if the experience wasn't confirmed and replicated. I'd bet I could get a well controlled study to bear it out. But, hey, I could be wrong.
    Last edited by DrSmellThis; 16th April 2013 at 06:33 PM.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Valerian

    Quote Originally Posted by DrSmellThis View Post
    For me, and for my customers of a perfume I used it in, the relaxing effect from smelling it was quite obvious. Maybe you have to be used to evaluating things from an aromatherapy perspective, being immediately sensitive to where you notice it. It's not like ingesting it, where it puts you to sleep, but honestly, I wouldn't describe it as completly subtle either. I don't mean this in a foofy, new age sense. Give it a few deep inhales, lol. Try it with an open mind. Let friends try it. I'd be suprised if the experience wasn't confirmed and replicated. I'd bet I could get a well controlled study to bear it out. But, hey, I could be wrong.
    Okay I'll give it a shot . . . though it's daunting as that stuff suuuuure stinks

  12. #12

    Default Re: Valerian

    Luckily, the more concentrated it is, the less it smells like stinky feet. However, that only helps you for a brief moment, as the smell fades.

    Really a remarkable substance. Bare feet signify being at home, in a comforting setting. So I use it to create the feeling of familiarity, and relaxing hominess. Natural vanilla accomplishes a closely related goal, and so combines with valerian to good psychological effect. As a natural perfumer and psychologist, I like to make the psychological effects of blending deliberate. Classic French approaches to perfuming account for psychology as well (esp., their theory of aphrodisiacs). So this one is important for a natural-leaning-aromatherapy-interested perfumer.

    Combine it with chamomile and/or lavender to enhance the psychological or physiological effect; with patchouli to enhance the grounded feeling, etc (patchouli being once used in mental hospitals for its grounding-feeling effect, which shouldn't be too surprising as it reminds one of dirt). (I hope aromatherapy isn't too awfully frowned upon here. Maybe I shouldn't bring the topic up.)
    Last edited by DrSmellThis; 17th April 2013 at 01:57 AM.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Valerian

    Actively engaged in by many here - see DIY section
    Last edited by lpp; 18th April 2013 at 08:23 AM.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Valerian

    This is an interesting one. The traces on the outside of the sealed bottle gave the renowned old sweat impression,
    like well-used running shoes or a locker room. This is the effect in low concentration.

    When the bottle is opened and smelled closely it radically changes as advertised and becomes unoffensive;
    herbaceous, camphorous, balsamic and earthy. At this level it smells like herbal sleep supplements
    containing valerian, and also reminiscent of St John's wort and Vicks Vaporub.

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