Alternative medicine: Kava root

Disclaimer:  This post is in no way meant to diagnose or treat any mental or medical illness.  The views expressed here are solely my own.  If you are pregnant, nursing or on medication, you should always consult a health care professional before taking any herbs.

 

In the last episode, I mentioned that I was going to stop taking some of my medications and try supplementing more “natural” alternatives.  In short, when I stopped taking just one pharmaceutical medication, I was wound up so tight I felt the only way to release my rage was to bludgeon someone to death.  Just to be clear, I started taking that medication again before someone experienced an unfortunate accident.

Through my experiments with herbs, I have found one herbal remedy to be useful, in combination with the other prescription medications I currently take.  But before I get into that, it is worth mentioning some background information.

The herb: Kava root

Without getting into the history of the use of Kava root (which you can research yourself), I am going to begin with the current trend of this ancient herb.  This herb is sold all over the internet, in the form of powders, capsules, tinctures, pastes, etc. Various companies make all kinds of promises about what this herb is good for and why you should buy their product rather than the other guy’s.  Just like CBD oil, which I have never tried, some of these companies make some wild claims about what Kava can do. Some of these companies seem to be targeting people who want to use Kava in order to get high. It’s whatever, but as an amateur herbalist, I use it for it’s better known benefit: relaxation.  

It is important to mention that the FDA has warned about potential liver damage associated with the use of Kava root.  Although I question those claims of liver damage since it lacked evidence that the few people that had liver damage actually got it from Kava root.  Another thing I questioned was if it could be proven they received liver damage from Kava root usage (no proof was offered), then how much were they taking and for how long?  As mentioned above, many people are using it in higher than recommended dosages to get high. So although I am not completely discounting the claims of liver damage, I do question them.  Because I question the ingredients of what the companies of some herbal supplements promote. For example, read this 2015 article about the ingredients of supplements from the New York Times.

With that said, Kava root has become so popular in the US that Kava bars have been popping up everywhere during the last several years and they are particularly popular in Florida.  

I have been taking Kava root off and on since 2016 (off and on because long term use side effects are not known).  I don’t use capsules, powders, pastes, etc bought off the internet because I don’t know what’s in them.  At best, it might have no benefit…at worse, I might end with the above mentioned liver damage because it was made in China and has ingredients no one can pronounce.  

I use a tincture made by Mountain Rose Herbs in Oregon. This is a company that I personally trust and that is why I buy from them.   In the future, I plan to make my own Kava tincture with the dried root that I purchase from the above mentioned company.  It is a pungent, bitter, soapy flavor followed by a numbing of the mouth. In other words, it tastes so much like shit that it makes me gag.  But the good thing about tinctures is if you can’t stand the taste, you can put it in any liquid to mask the horrible flavor.

I have found it to be very beneficial when combined with my other pharmaceuticals.  And because Kava root interferes with a good bit of medications, I check Wed MD before taking any new drug…over-the-counter, herbal or otherwise.  The only possible interference with my current medications is it could increase the side effects of them (which is dizziness and drowsiness…side effects I did not have anyway).

So overall, I have felt more relaxed during the day (I don’t take it at night), more carefree, have less head chatter and feel happier overall.  It does not leave me feeling stoned, drugged, or hazy.  Kava tincture (from Mountain Rose Herbs) simply works well with the combination of psychotropic medications I already take.  How it would work alone or in combination with other herbs like Valerian, Skullcap, German Chamomile, Lemon Balm or Passionflower, I do not know.

In the future, I hope to experiment with others herbs that I am currently growing and post my findings in future blogs.  Stay tuned for the next episode.

-Shadow

 

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