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

 

Dreams and emotion possession

I think what we dream while we are sleeping gives significant insight into what we are experiencing during our waking hours. In fact, interpreting my own dreams is so important to me, I have been keeping a “dream journal” for more than 20 years. I will admit that some of these dreams have been very powerful and insightful, while other dreams remain a mystery to me.

Last night, I had a dream that I lost control of my car that was suddenly being swept away by muddy flood waters. I somehow managed to escape from the window of the car before it was swallowed up by what looked like violent rapids on a rushing river. I woke up gasping for air.

Interpretation:
Car losing control symbolizes anxiety about a loss of direction in life
Water symbolizes feelings and emotions; muddy water symbolizes a lack of clarity about those emotions/feelings
Flood symbolizes that these emotions are overwhelming and I am guessing that because it was violent rapids it probably also symbolizes chaotic emotions.

It is no secret that I ignore my emotions/feelings most of the time. Obviously, I fear them or else I would not ignore them. I have often imagined negative emotions to be akin to what some call “demon possession” (not that I believe in demons or possession)…but, you know? The way it is portrayed in the movies. Negative emotions seem to be like this outside entity that comes around to possess me at random times and just takes over my mind. It is the only way I know how to make sense of it.

And although I do not know what flooding emotions this dream was referring to, I do feel like negative emotions are flooding…and chaotic…and usually turns me into someone I do not recognize…someone who scares me…so yes, I am afraid of them. But to say that these negative emotions are an entity outside of myself…well, that just keeps me from being accountable, doesn’t it?

-Shadow

Memories

Holding the faded photograph

Of a moment I cannot recall

From a time long ago

Of when I was small.

 

As you clutched her in your arms

My face is turned from view

We all posed for a picture

But everyone looks blue.

 

What was it all about?

And why do we all look so sad?

Were you unhappy about,

The family you could of had?

 

We all had our secrets

Hidden behind our frowned face

But now, for the last time

I must leave this place.

 

It’s funny how

Bad memories are erased by years

And sometimes the mind creates good ones

From a time there were once tears.

 

©Shadow

Dad leaves, the phantom man and finding a new home

In April of this year, I noticed that my father was suffering from coughing, fever, vomiting, chills, significant weakness.  As I might have mentioned before, a little over a year ago he had been diagnosed with cancer…melanoma which had metastasized to his liver, pelvic bone, and lung.  He had been receiving chemotherapy and he claimed that it was working. When I told he should see a doctor about his symptoms, he told me he had those symptoms because the chemotherapy was “burning the cancer out”.  

 

One day after I came home from work, my dad told me he discovered what was making him sick.  “It was bad Tilapia from Wal-mart”, so he threw out the whole bag. I’m sure I must have had a puzzled look on my face.  I could not determine if he really believed that or if he was trying to sell me this absurd story. “Bad Tilapia? It wouldn’t have anything to do with cancer or chemotherapy?  Like an allergic reaction to the chemo? Or anything like that?” I asked. He assured me it was the fish. I was left speechless by his ridiculous claim.

 

I decided to spend more time around my father in case he fell out in the floor, without him knowing what I was actually doing.  I was afraid to go to work but went anyway. I didn’t want to leave him home alone. Sometimes I would come home and he would be barefoot…he never walked barefoot.  Cabinet doors would be left open, refrigerated food would be left out on the counter, food in the microwave that he never ate. Sometimes he couldn’t remember if he had eaten anything.

 

Then one evening, I noticed he was struggling to get up to go to the restroom.  I watched him and instinctively knew something was about to happen. I watched the hallway opening from the living room waiting for his return from the restroom.  Nothing could break my focus. Then I heard him coming down the hallway. It sounded different and then I saw him. His left arm outstretched, his upper torso and head leaning to one side.  I rushed to him and he said “get me to the couch” but I knew he wasn’t going to make it. I did help break his fall anyway. He tried to get up from the floor and I pushed him back down. “You are staying right there.  I’m calling 9-1-1 and we are going to find out what is wrong with you.”

 

When he arrived at the hospital, his oxygen level was 40.  He ended up spending three weeks there and most of that time he was in ICU.  He had pneumonia and an allergic reaction to chemotherapy. After that, he was transferred to rehab where he stayed for 54 days.

 

I experienced an array of emotions.  I felt like I had been thrown off a cliff.  I was terrified to be in the house alone. For the first two weeks my dad was in the hospital, I constantly searched the house for what I ended up naming the Phantom Man.  I would check closets and under beds over and over again at night. During daylight hours, I spent my time memorizing the number of paces it would take me to get to the closest exit from various points within the house.  Conducting drills over and over and timing myself to see how long it would take me to get out. At night when I would lay down to go to sleep, I would keep my eyes fixed on my bedroom doorway waiting for this Phantom Man, but he never came.  I listened for him. Nothing. When I closed my eyes, I had terrifying visions of someone standing over me. But when I finally got up the nerve to open them, no one was there. Finally, I decided I would try something when I would close my eyes.  When the images came, I will just say “thinking”. Over and over again if necessary. Eventually, it helped and I was able to sleep and after a while I finally stopped looking in closets and under beds too.

 

As I became more comfortable being alone…in a decent sized house…in a rural area, I found myself wanting my father to stay away.  “My brother and sister will not help me”, I thought, “and I can’t take care of him by myself. It will be better if he dies in rehab.”  My father decided that he wanted to stay in a long term care facility that was one of the best in the area.

 

I made arrangements to become POA for my father while he was still in his right mind.  This gave me the authority to use his money for his care while he resided in the long term care facility.  Once I used it all, the state will pay for his care…after they probed his financial records for the last 5 years.  So, I am taking great care to save every receipt so I can show that his money was used for his needs.

 

But it also meant something else.  A person cannot have a lot of assets if they are requesting financial assistance from the state.   It is for people who don’t have resources to pay for their own care. This means, when I have used all of his resources, his house and land will have to be sold for fair market value…the house I live in.  I cannot buy it because I have $80,000 worth of student loans and $23,000 worth of credit card debt. I am currently in the process of filing bankruptcy for the credit card debt (it can’t file bankruptcy on student loans).  Besides, I don’t like long term commitments. I like the freedom of being able to leave whenever I want. And renting as opposed to buying allows me to do that.

 

I had to find a place to rent.  So, I started saving money and began my search for a new place…preferably a one room house where I can see all of the few possesses I own.  It proved to be more difficult than I thought possible. I didn’t exactly get what I wanted but I did move into a one bedroom apartment and for the next four weeks I lived there, it would be hell.

 

That story will be in the next post…

 

-Shadow