(Health Secrets) People encounter many types of stress yet there are natural products that will calm and rejuvenate the common thread shared between them: the nervous system. Two of the most potent are Valerian and Kava Kava. These herbs have synergistic benefits when used together. ______________________________________________________________
Valerian – Valeriana officinalis (Valerianaceae)
Valerian is a nerve tonic primarily used as a sedative and muscle relaxant. Containing the key constituent Valerianic acid, valerian reduces nervous energy, promoting relaxation and restful sleep. An adaptogen, valerian acts both as a sedative to those who are over anxious and as a stimulant to those suffering fatigue.
Valerian is useful to treat spasms, neck tension, exhaustion, backache, headache, asthma, irritable bowel syndrome, menstrual cramps, and high blood pressure. Safe, non-habit forming, and without any serious side effects, valerian does have an unpleasant odor (it was called phu by the Romans). Valerian contains up to 1.4% volatile oils (bornyl acetate, beta-caryphyllene), iridoids (valepotriates), valtrate, isovaltrate, and alkaloids.
Used by the Romans to relieve stress, Valerian was regarded as a cure-all during the Middle Ages. Favius Calumna used it to treat epilepsy, publishing a detailed work. Valerian treats the nervous system itself, essential to fully overcoming certain disorders.
To measure the quality of valerian, see whether a cat likes it! It has a similar effect to catnip and helps relieve cats of flea rashes (when added to their food along with powdered greens).
Kava Kava – Piper methysticum (Piperaceae)
An indigenous Polynesian vine, Kava Kava grows throughout the Pacific islands as far east as Hawaii. Containing the key constituent Kavalactones, Kava contains the resin kawain along with the alkaloid pipermethysticine. A topical pain reliever and aphrodisian, Kava has antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and even narcotic effects (if taken in excess). Kava Kava is closely related to P. sanctum, a native plant to Mexico that also contains kavalactones. Other related species are Piper’s Angustifolia, betle, cubeba and nigrum). Kava Kava has major cultural significance in the Pacific Islands, where it has been used for thousands of years without FDA approval.
Kava Kava is used in social and religious rituals in the south sea islands. Kava’s calming and stimulating properties produce feelings of euphoria along with intoxication. Kava Kava can be used as mouthwash, an analgesic, and to promote a restful night’s sleep. Kava Kava has antiseptic properties.
Note: While there have been a handful of cases of liver damage from Kava Kava, there have been hundreds of thousands of deaths caused by pharmaceuticals, yet the FDA is of course warning us about Kava Kava, saying avoid using if you have liver disease. To measure the quality of Kava Kava, note that is should have a strong numbing effect in the mouth, and look for products guaranteeing 25% or more kavalactones.
Adaptogens help the body to seek overall system balance. Instead of always pushing the body up (stimulant) or down (sedative), adaptogens move the body toward the middle, where proper balance is achieved. Thus, adaptogens can act as a stimulant (for those who are fatigued), and as a sedative (for those who are over anxious). Valerian is a pure adaptogen, while KavaKava has both stimulant and sedative properties.
No More Sleepwalking
With most sleep aids, the body is neither here nor there, neither really awake nor truly asleep… a zombie-like state. One wakes up feeling the same. In some cases patients taking prescription medications have been found sleepwalking.
Kava Kava and Valerian have calming rather than sedative effects. These herbs directly calm the mind, reducing any symptoms of anxiety including panic, palpitations, sweating and insomnia. Herbal treatments like Kava and Valerian help to detoxify the nerves themselves (reversing the neurotoxic damage caused by neurotoxins like MSG and Aspartame). They remove nervous tension often caused by food additives (usually referred to as “restless leg syndrome”), encouraging a restful sleep.
How to use Valerian and Kava Kava
Many feel that these two herbs are best when used together. People who have not experimented much with herbs will notice an immediate effect with these.
There are three main ways to consume these herbs:
- Tincture – The concentrated liquids (tinctures with eye droppers) are the strongest and have little flavor. Be sure to use high quality tinctures with guaranteed content of Valerianic Acid and Kavalactones (for about $60, a person can get a 30-90 day supply of both). One normally finds that they do not need them more than a few days in a row, using them only once in a while. Adding the liquid(s) to a little warm water and absorbing the mixture under the tongue before bedtime is the preferred method. This is sublingual (the sipping action does this naturally if done properly).
- Capsules – Capsules in high quality form are about as fast as aspirin in providing relief and are equally potent to tincture.
- Tea – Neither Valerian nor Kava Kava have a pleasant taste, so tea is not recommended, however that is how Kava Kava is normally consumed in the Pacific islands (it does numb your mouth so you can’t taste it for too long). While blends are fine in tincture and capsule form, they should be consumed separately as tea.
Note that low quality versions of these herbs will be far less effective if at all.
For more information:
The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants – Dorling Kindersley and Andrew Chevallier