Kava Kava

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Use: This herb addresses anxiety, tension, restlessness, stress, and insomnia. The relaxing properties of kava are related to kavalactones, the primary active ingredient. High-quality kava contains 5.5-8.3 percent of these compounds, which create changes in the brain activity that are similar to the effects of anti-anxiety drugs without their sedative or hypnotic effect.

Dosage: 140-210 mg divided over 2-3 doses. (Look for standardized extracts of 70 percent lactones.) Long-term consumption might turn the skin and nails yellow temporarily; if this occurs, stop taking immediately until the condition clears. This should not be taken with drugs that act on the central nervous system, such as alcohol, benzodiazepines, antidepressants, and barbiturates. Rare side effects include mild gastrointestinal disturbances.

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