Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Pharmacology



First Advisor

John J. DeFeo


Valeriana officinalis, a perennial herb indigenous to both Europe and Asia, was investigated for its pharmacological properties. An attempt was also made collaterally with the Department of Pharmacognosy of the University of Rhode Island College of Pharmacy to isolate the most active function of Valerian. Valerian was extracted by solvent extraction procedures developed by the Department of Pharmocognosy and each fraction was tested and compared for its biological activity. The bioassay procedures were used to compare each fraction prepared. These were: (1) The affects of various fractions on the pentobarbital speeping time in rats, and (2) The effects of various fractions on the blood pressure of rats.

The results obtained revealed that valerian had no significant effect on the pentobarbital sleeping time in rats, but the two fractions, V103 and V115, did show significant hypotensive activity.

V115 which proved to be the most potent hypotensive fraction was reextracted utilizing counter-current extraction procedures. This procedure yielded two antagonistic fractions. One produced a hypertensive effect and the other a hypotensive effect in rats.

Modification of the extraction procedure during attempts to duplicate the results obtained from the first counter-current extraction of V115 resulted in the loss of activity in the new V115 fraction, and thus, the V103 fraction (alcohol extract) of valerian was further investigated for its pharmacological properties.

The V103 fraction of valerian depressed the general activity of rats without producing sleep, and also exhibited respiratory depressant properties.

V103 produced hypotensive effects in rats, rabbits, cats and dogs. The hypotension may be done to several principles in the fraction tested. There appears to be a parasympathometic principle present which produces its effects at least in part through vagal stimulation. V103 was found to block the cartoid aims reflex and was also found to potentiate spinepurine activity in cats and dogs. The effects of V103 on the blood pressure may be due to principles in common with the V115 fraction.

V103 releases isolated intestinal smooth muscle at low doses and produces a secondary contraction at higher doses. Atrophine blocked the secondary smooth muscle excitement effects.

V103 is relatively non-toxic as evidenced by its lack of effects on weight, blood and urine of rats and fairly high LD50 dose in male and female mice.



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