Kalms Review – Valerian Versus My Anxiety & Insomnia

kalms one a night

This past week I’ve been testing out Kalms, hoping they can perform the miraculous and help reduce the anxiety and insomnia that have crept back into my life.

If you’re looking for a herbal remedy to help you relax or sleep better, Kalms is a popular choice.

In the UK, they have a regular place in the medicine section of many supermarkets and chemists.

But do they actually work? And is there any research evidence for their sedative effect?

In this Kalms review, you’ll find out how well they worked for me. I’ll also take a look at the four different types and side effects if you’re thinking of trying them yourself.


The four types

There are four different types of Kalms. The first two are intended for anxiety during the day, and the night versions to help with sleep.

1. Kalms tablets (Kalms Day)

These are meant to be taken throughout the day to help with mild anxiety. You take two tablets, three times a day. The ingredients are valerian and hops. They used to contain gentian, but that was removed.

2. Kalms Lavender

Lavender has growing research evidence for its sedative properties. Kalms Lavender is a capsule containing lavender oil 80 mg, intended to help with anxiety.

3. Kalms Night

As you’d imagine from the name, these are intended to help you sleep. You take four tablets one hour before going to sleep. Each pill contains valerian root extract 96 mg, so you can take less than four if you prefer.

4. Kalms One-A-Night

Rather than having the option to take less if needed, Kalms One-A-Night is a single pill at a stronger dosage of valerian extract 385 mg.


My experience

This week I tried Kalms one-a-night, though not so long ago I also tried the daytime tablets and the sleep varieties.

My first thought about the night version was that it was better having to only take one pill rather than the four with the Sleep version. Admittedly, it’s twice the size of the others. But it’s sugar-coated and still easy to swallow.

Another bonus of it being sugar coated is not getting the strong valerian taste as you do with similar products,  like Nytol Herbal.

kalms one a night tablets box

During the day

I decided to take them in 2 different situations to try to really gauge if I could feel any effects. I first tried one in the middle of the day while working on my laptop.

I didn’t feel anything noticeable, but this doesn’t necessarily mean nothing is happening; they aren’t meant to be too strong after all.

At night

I then tried the normal dose of one pill 3 nights in a row, and I do think I felt a mild sedative effect each night.

But whether it was a sedation, placebo effect, or tiredness due to not sleeping well lately is hard to say. I did, however, sleep a little better each night than I had done recently.

I mentioned that I’ve been having sleep problems recently, and this has largely been due to having quite a lot of stress in my life. So maybe the calming effect of the valerian helped me drift off a little easier.

But really, it’s the day version which is supposed to help mild anxiety, and I can only comment on this in hindsight. I actually took them regularly a while back, and I do remember thinking that they helped a little.

The problem is that it’s so hard to tell whether something which is only meant to have a light effect is actually working or not.

It could be a placebo effect (which is known to be powerful). Or it could be a combination of that and anything else you’re doing at the time to help yourself deal with anxiety or sleep problems.

So my feeling is this: if you think it helps, then that’s probably good enough. But you may never know for sure exactly how much it’s really helping.

For now, I’ll continue with them for a few more days as I think I have felt a mild effect, and that’s all I need.


What evidence is there that Kalms work?

Being a herbal remedy, there’s no need for clinical studies to pass them as effective. And accordingly, no research studies have been done on them.

So technically, no scientific research exists for the effectiveness of Kalms.

When I first wrote this article, the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency website had a full entry for Kalms. It seems to have been removed now, but here’s a quote I found previously:

This registration is based exclusively upon evidence of the use of Hops and dry extract of Valerian root and Gentian root as a traditional herbal medicine and not upon data generated from clinical trials. There is no requirement under the Traditional Herbal Registration scheme to prove scientifically that the product works. No new or unexpected safety concerns arose from this application and it was, therefore, decided that a Traditional Herbal Registration Certificate could be granted.

Now the website simply has a list of approved herbal medicines, each one with the same repeated caveat saying “based on traditional use only.”

Evidence for valerian

Perhaps it’s more productive to look at whether valerian is known to help promote sleep. And in this case, the answer according to research could be summarized as ‘sometimes’.

As I wrote about in my article about valerian, it does have some research evidence showing a sedative effect. So based on that, Kalms might have the potential to do what it’s intended to do.

What others say

The biggest test is of course what people say. The UK Amazon site has mixed feelings from customers. Some people say they work brilliantly, while others found they didn’t work at all.

And since first writing this review, there have been many comments from readers describing their experience. Once again, some say it worked wonders, but others aren’t so convinced.

And this raises a key point: it’s very hard to predict whether Kalms will work for you or not.

Your expectations and previous experience of sleeping or anxiety pills might also play a role. If you’ve taken strong prescription medication before, you might find the lighter effect of Kalms just isn’t enough, or takes some adapting to.

However, if you’ve never dabbled in the prescription heavyweights before, then the gentle calming effect might be enough.


Further Information

Ingredients

As per the instruction leaflet, the active herbal ingredient is:

  • Valerian root extract 385 mg (equivalent to 1.54-1.93 g of valerian root)

And the other ingredients are:

  • Extraction solvent: Ethanol 60% v/v
  • Excipients: Maltodextrin, Colloidal Anhydrous Silica.
  • Croscarmellose Sodium
  • TalcSilicified Microcrystalline Cellulose
  • Magnesium Stearate
  • Silicon Dioxide
  • Hypromellose
  • Titanium Dioxide
  • Macrogol
  • Saccharine Sodium

Who should avoid Kalms

The manufacturer advises against taking Kalms in some situations:

  • If you’re allergic to any of the ingredients
  • If you consume excessive amounts of alcohol, as it can increase the sedative effect
  • If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding
  • You should avoid driving, operating machinery or tools
  • If you’re taking any other medication for sleep

Possible side effects of One-A-Night

The manufacturer only lists two possible side effects. If you experience these or any other adverse symptoms, stop taking them and consult your doctor:

  • Nausea
  • Abdominal cramps

The other versions have different possible side effects, so please make sure you read the label carefully before taking them.

Have you tried Kalms?

I’m interested to hear your thoughts about any of the Kalms. Have you tried them, and if so, what effect did they have on you?

354 thoughts on “Kalms Review – Valerian Versus My Anxiety & Insomnia”

    1. Hi Coelho
      Sleep experts normally advise not to take any sleep aid forever. Having said that, at least herbal remedies are generally thought to be less damaging in the long run than stronger pharmaceuticals. Still, I think even with herbal remedies, the long term effects are still a little unknown.
      Regards
      Ethan

  1. I’m looking for some advice, I’ll soon be starting night shifts in a care home and my sleep the next day will be very limited due to young children. What tablet would be best to help me get to sleep, I’m worried I won’t be able to sleep without a little help :)

    1. Hi Laura
      Thanks for your comment. I can understand your worry – it’s not always easy keeping on top of sleep when working night shifts. Are the children yours, and will need caring for? If that’s the case, I’d be more hesitant to take sleep aids. But if not, and you just will be in the same house, perhaps something light like a herbal remedy will help – such as kalms. I’d also look into sleep tips for night shift workers as there is a lot of good advice to be found online about that. For me, a good set of earplugs and a sleep mask are a good start point even!
      Regards
      Ethan

  2. Hi I am just about to try Kalms one at night. I am on Nitrazepam and have been for many years so am hooked on it. My main aim is to cut out the prescription meds and go onto herbal ones. I am so addicted to my meds that I doubt I will ever come off sleeping aids but I do believe that some element of my insomnia is all in my mind as as soon as I take the tablets I go straight to sleep. Without them I do not sleep at all which makes me extremely depressed. So here goes Kalms one a night. Good luck to all of you trying it.

    1. Hi Karen
      Thanks for your comment. Let’s hope that they work well for you – or if nothing else, the placebo effect still works even though you seem to know about it!
      Regards
      Ethan

  3. I have spent 15 years self-medicating with cannabis to sleep, I’ve had insomnia since a teenager. I quit the weed 7 years ago for a few months, then had a mental breakdown and ended up taking diazepam and Xanax bought online to help my anxiety and insomnia, I was very depressed.
    I did go to the GP multiple times asking for some anxiety meds, every time they just FOBBED me off and I’d leave there distressed not knowing how to ease my symptoms. So what option did I have apart from buy meds online?
    The benzodiazepines nearly killed me as I would buy in bulk 1000x 10mg diazepam at a time, the dosage would go up all the time to get the same effect to the point I would take 150mg of diazepam every day, that would be lethal to someone without a tolerance. To most people 20mg is lights out, you wouldn’t even be able to stay awake! I was a walking zombie that could barely remember my own name. Ended up very messed up for about 2 years after that, was on anti-psychotics and anti-depressants, had to go through benzo withdrawal which is literally the worst thing you will ever go through, a lot of people die withdrawing from benzos, you have to taper the dose down very very slowly over about 4 months.
    Now 7 years later I’m trying to quit weed again, but I know benzos are not the answer, not touched them in 7 years.
    Problem is there is nothing out there that does what cannabis does for my sleep that is not equally or more detrimental to my health. I’ve tried all the sleeping tabs, zopiclone, zolpidem, they make you sleep but it’s not good sleep and you feel hungover all the time and they’re also addictive. Cannabis was a very expensive habit for me, I used to smoke around 1.5 ounces of high-grade weed a month so costs like £250-£300 a month.
    I have started a good job where I am drug tested reguarly so must quit for my own future. Life without the relief of smoking weed after a hard day’s work is killing me right now though!!
    I’m thinking of buying some Melatonin 10mg tabs (the natural sleep chemical your brain produces to make you tired) from America to get me through this period as they’re sold openly in shops there and I’ve heard they are very effective and not addictive and also NOT illegal to import as they are not scheduled drug. In the UK though they are only available on prescription and very rarely prescribed. Going to the GP for me is a complete waste of time, they will not give me anything, it’s like they just want to see me suffer. Ive gone there in agony with toothache, face swelled up etc and they wouldnt even give me 1 tramadol until I could get to emergency dentist. I found it inhumane and absolute madness, I was so angry at the GP. In Spain for example, I sprained my wrist pretty bad and visited a Spanish doctor, he give me 28 tramadol tabs. But in the UK you don’t even get 1 tab when your clearly in bad pain, its just madness. I now hate GPs they are the most useless overpaid people in the country, they have never helped me, ever!

    I have a friend who recently had breakdown too, he told his doctor he smoked cannabis and when he left they wrote to the DVLA and had his driving license revoked, just because he said he smoked cannabis. Well he’s now lost his job as a result of losing his licence and his life ruined, he won’t come out of his house anymore. They’ve parked him on olanzapine and now he’s a zombie and lost everything.
    So after knowing all this, I will never tell anyone in the NHS about cannabis or mental health ever again, I can’t believe they can do that but apparently they are now obliged to. Same goes for alcohol, so if you tell your GP you drink half a bottle of wine every night to sleep they will also revoke your license for minimum of 6 months.
    What the hell am I supposed to do?!
    If I ask for help I will probably become homeless due to loss of driving license on mental health grounds.
    Sorry for the life story, but it feels better off my chest!

    1. Hi there
      Thanks for sharing your story. I’m sorry to hear you’ve been struggling so much over the years – I can totally relate to the frustration in not being able to find the right answer to your sleep problems. I’m not sure where to start in sharing my thoughts on your story. On the one hand, I feel that perhaps an over-reliance on medication (or self-medication) might be worth steering away from, by looking at other ways to calm yourself at night so you can sleep. On the other, I also know from personal experience that melatonin can be useful, as can some herbal remedies – depending on the person and the situation they are in. Have you ever spoken to a counsellor or had any form of talking therapy, such as CBT, within or outside of the NHS? Perhaps it might help to talk through with a professional the issues which led to your breakdown, and your ongoing worry about sleep etc. I’d also strongly suggest trying (if you haven’t already) more long-term tactics to reduce stress/anxiety etc and get into a calmer mental space each day. For me, that means doing yoga and meditation every morning – even if it’s just 10-20 minutes – and then doing more in the evening if I feel myself a bit wired before going to bed. But there are other options if that’s not your cup of tea. I do think it’s worth exploring though.
      All the best
      Ethan

  4. Margaret Bradley

    I have been taking Kalms Day tablets for about 3 weeks. 2-4 per day, morning and afternoon. For the past 25 years or so, 4 hours sleep has constituted a good night if I can get that far. I am a cheerful person, happily married and no special reasons to worry but I do. Random thoughts at night about absurd topics. By day I am pedantic. Whether Kalms are making me feel calmer or whether I think they are, the fact is that I am. I do not seek medical help or take prescribed medicines unless my life depends upon them. I have taken nothing since cancer treatment 10 years ago. Why I didn’t think of trying something before, I don’t know but they seem to be doing the trick. I am calmer by day and sleep 6-7 hours at night with minor interruptions. I am 70 years old.

    1. Hi Margaret
      Thanks for your comment and for sharing your experience with Kalms. It’s great that they have helped you. I hope you continue to feel better, with or without the Kalms.
      Regards
      Ethan

  5. Farhana Nur Chowdhury

    I have tried kalms 1 a night tablet. It indeed helped me. But if you are using it for a few days in a row, it becomes less effective.

    1. Hi Farhana
      Thanks for your comment. That does tend to be the case with many sleep aids!
      Regards
      Ethan

  6. Yolande Fegredo

    Why does Kalms Day contain Ethanol. I have been taking these tablets for quite a few years and have only just noticed that Ethanol is in these tablets.

    1. Hi Yolande
      I think Ethanol is included in many drugs because of its solvent property, so it’s used to help dissolve one or more other ingredients.
      Regards
      Ethan

  7. I have been using Kalms one a night for a while and they’ve helped no end, but I wake EVERY morning with the worst anxiety ever!! Like I’m choking and can’t breathe. I took a one a day Kalms this morning as I was so bad. Made me feel very tired but brought my anxiety down within minutes.

    Not sure if I’ve taken too much having a one a night one then a one a day one first thing but hey ho. I’m thinking of trying St John’s wort again alongside them, has anyone else tried that?

    1. Hi Jo
      Thanks for your comment. If you’re not sure about your dosage, you could ask your doctor or write to Kalms customer service. But personally, I’d probably stick to just one over the counter sleep aid at a time, not mixing different types of the same brand or adding another one altogether unless my doctor agreed or I’d seen research or medical organisations saying it’s ok to do so.
      Regards
      Ethan

  8. I sleep around 1hr per night, and I work shifts also. I have had this trouble since I was 16, I am now 20 and looking to move forward with my career, the only thing that is stopping me is my insomnia. Everything I have tried (prescription medicine) has not worked, the only thing that has worked is a cannabis joint 30 mins before my sleep, though recently my family have introduced me to Kalms – if I stop taking them, will my sleep pattern return to the horrific state it was once in? It has been so awful that I have experienced many lucid dreams, though due to my age they say it’s just a “phase.” I’m really looking for help as my doctors won’t. Kind regards. Anonymous, United Kingdom.

    1. Hi there
      Thanks for your comment. Sorry to hear you’re having such difficulties sorting your sleep out. I don’t know what will happen if you stop taking the kalms, to be honest. Perhaps you could look further into taking valerian in different forms rather than just taking kalms pills. There are other ways to prepare it, down to simple valerian tea even. And for many people, I don’t know of any serious problem with drinking valerian tea for longer periods of time. If the cannabis worked, have you considered trying CBD oil instead? I can’t say for sure how effective it is for sleep, though am planning on testing it for an extended period soon as I’ve seen a lot online about it’s reported benefits for sleep. So please don’t take my word for it, but it might be an avenue to explore if you want to avoid the negative effects of cannabis and go down the legal medical route instead.
      Regards
      Ethan

  9. I am suffering from anxiety and sleeplessness. this causes a panic attack as well, which makes me cry all the time. i started using kalm night which is helping me. I am coming back to life. Now its a week and i am looking for some answers.
    1 can i stop taking kalm suddenly. Or i need to reduce dose to avoid any side effect? I read that if i stop this tablet my sleeplessness will come back again.
    2 For how long i should take the medicine. can A long use of this medicine makes me addict to it Although its helping me now but i dont want to be on it for life.
    3 is this medicine a cure or like other medicine just a time pass.
    Please help me

    1. Hi Amir
      Sorry to hear you’ve been having a difficult time. I am not the definitive expert on kalms, but here are my personal views:
      1. I don’t think it’s a problem to stop valerian suddenly. but reducing the dosage slowly might actually help reduce the rebound insomnia. no guarantees though.
      2. The standard advice is to take sleep aids for no more than 2 weeks before talking to a doctor if you still have sleep problems.
      3. It’s not exactly a cure – it depends what you are trying to cure really. it might help with a temporary sleep problem. But if you suffer from anxiety on an ongoing basis, then it probably won’t cure it. This is again something to get profesional advice about.
      Regards
      Ethan

  10. Hi was wondering can I take kalms with other medication. (Eyedrops for glaucoma) and cholesterol tabs. Finding it hard to sleep. Thanks. From Maureen.

    1. Hi Maureen
      Do you have access to a doctor you can ask? I would ask them if they think it’s ok to mix kalms with your cholesterol medication.
      Regards
      Ethan

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