Factors in Relieving Anxiety
Answered by: Susan Eagles
Question from: Name not given
Posted on: September 16, 2004

I recently started taking kava kava to help me during a stressful time. The anxiety was triggered from a traumatic situation during a relationship, which had brought up in me very insecure thoughts of myself, which I seemed to have managed all my life. I feel I can deal better presently with my feelings as I know I have been able to in the past if this uneasiness in my system diminishes. Seems the physiological reaction from my emotions / nerves distracts me and I think is making it less conducive for me to put things in a emotionally proper perspective.

Well my focus is on lessening the anxiety response in my body by taking kava kava and/or St. John’s wort and or other herbs Can these two being taken together? Any other suggestions will be greatly appreciated. I have also done my homework in realizing that proper intake of vitamins and minerals do alleviate such responses in the body by keeping the body in a healthy properly nourished state.

Does this all make sense to you? Am I following a logical path? What is the proper doasge for kava kava? The brand I am taking has single serving convenience packets of 7.2 gms of kava. They suggest taking one packet at a time. Does this sound right to you? How many times a day can I take it? Does the physical body size of the individual taking kava play a significant role?

Because of current claims of kava kava causing liver toxicity, I am not recommending it, and particularly advise against long term use and high doses. The dose recommended by Thomas Bartram in "Bartram’s Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine (available at Richters), primarily for use as an antimicrobial for sexually transmitted diseases and other infections of the urinary system and the genital, is 2 to 4 grams, three times daily. Your dosage is high for a single dose. There are dangers in high doses of kava kava and in its long term use, especially when combined with herbs or drugs that promote relaxation of the nervous system. Depression of the nervous system is a possible negative effect.

Body weight and age are taken into consideration in the dosage. The recommended dosage is given for a normal weight adult. Doses for children and the elderly are reduced. Doses for a very large adult may tend towards the maximum of the dose range, for a very small adult towards the minimum of the dose range.

You are right to be looking to the triggers for your anxiety and to improving your general health and nervous system with good nutrition. Physical exercise and relaxation exercises, including yoga, meditation and tai chi, are important for your general health and the health of your mind. Herbs should be used only for a short term, to support a balance in the body while changes in the diet and lifestyle are being made. I suggest that you continue to work on improving your diet, exercise and lifestyle, avoiding alcohol, coffee, sugar and refined foods, maximizing whole foods, including yoga or other relaxation techniques in your lifestyle and adding a variety of calming, herbal teas like lemon balm, skullcap and linden flowers.

[Editor’s comment:]
I feel compelled to take issue with your comment about liver toxicity. I suspect the problem with kava -- if there is a real problem -- may be related to the manufacturing methods used for commercial kava products. Commercial extracts are made using organic solvents such as benzene, while the traditional extraction method is oral mastication and fermentation. I think that it is important to distinguish between kava products (extracted using organic solvents) and the raw kava herb. Frankly, I very much doubt that the raw herb poses much risk to the liver. We have posted an article on the kava situation; please visit: http://www.richters.com/show.cgi?page=Issues/issues.html

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