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Skeletal muscle relaxant effect of a standardized extract of Valeriana officinalis L. after acute administration in mice

Valeriana officinalis L. root extracts are traditionally taken for their sedative and anxiolytic properties and are also used for muscle relaxation. Relaxant effects were clearly observed on smooth muscle whereas data on effects on skeletal muscle are scarce and inconsistent. The aim of this study was to assess whether a standardized extract (SE) of V. officinalis had myorelaxant effects by decreasing skeletal muscle strength and/or neuromuscular tone in mice. Mice received an acute dose of V. officinalis SE (2 or 5 g/kg per os) or tetrazepam (10 mg/kg ip), a standard myorelaxant drug. Thirty minutes later, the maximal muscle strength was measured using a grip test, while global skeletal muscle function (endurance and neuromuscular tone) was assessed in a wire hanging test. Compared to tetrazepam, both doses of V. officinalis SE induced a pronounced decrease in skeletal muscle strength without any significant effects on endurance and neuromuscular tone. This study provides clear evidence that the extract of V. officinalis tested has a relaxant effect on skeletal muscle. By decreasing skeletal muscle strength without impacting endurance and neuromuscular tone, V. officinalis SE could induce less undesirable side effects than standard myorelaxant agents, and be particularly useful for avoiding falls in the elderly.