Kava Kava and St. John’s Wort
Answered by: Susan Eagles
Question from: Judy
Posted on: May 20, 1998

Please tell me the differences between kava kava and St. Johns wort: how do they differ, how are they alike, advantages vs. disadvantages, sleep aid vs. energy?

Both Kava kava and St. John’s wort are nerve relaxants and antiseptic. Kava kava is anti-microbial, especially effective in genital and urinary infections. St. John’s wort is anti-inflammatory and especially useful in nerve pain.

Both are used for insomnia, as anti-depressants to lift the mood. Both herbs are non-addictive.

Rudolf Weiss, MD, in "Herbal Medicine" (Beaconsfield Publishers, Beaconsfield, England) states that when used in religious ceremonies in Polynesia and Melanesia, it causes people to "feel calm and relaxed, with mental activity enhanced". Investigations have shown that "Given in rising dosage, increasing central nervous system depression and relaxation of skeletal muscle is achieved. Full consciousness is retained even with fatal doses" as it paralyses the respiratory centre.

Weiss states that St. John’s wort is useful as an anti-depressant, lightening the mood, and is especially useful long term for mild to moderate depression. There has now been quite a bit of research that shows its effectiveness for this use.

Because of its safety and effectiveness shown in clinical trials and hundreds of years of use, St. John’s Wort, it is the herb to be recommended for home use for depression and as a sleep aid. Kava kava is used by practitioners to lighten the mood and for genital or urinary infections.

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