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Old 08-29-2002, 04:46 PM   #1
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Question Valerian Root, Kava, and St John's Wort

Hi everyone...

I suffer moderate depression, slight insomnia, stress, and sometimes I get stupidly angry for no reason. I was on Prozac but found it's not for me. I don't want to start trying every thing in the world from the medical field for this, so I've been wondering about the alternative meds.

Can anyone tell me what the differences between Valerian, Kava, and St John's Wort are? They all seem to treat the same things to me but I want to make sure I choose the correct one for me. Also, can I take any of them consecutively?

Thanks for your input!

Amy
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Old 08-29-2002, 11:47 PM   #2
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Valerian, Kava, and St John's Wort are all great!

St.John's is more for the depression, Valerian and Kava for the anxiety and stress.

If I were you I'd buy the powdered herbs from your health food store or better yet find an online herb store that sells in bulk. Then buy the herbs by the pound instead of capsules.

[Example: Valerian $5-9.00, Kava $ 14.00, St. John's $5.00]

Use a half teaspoon mixed in juice. You can also cover your bases and mix equal parts of all three herbs together and then take 1/2 teaspoon from your mix. Depending on how you feel, take 2 to 3 times a day.

Most companies that sell herbs in bulk sell good fresh herbs of good quality, unlike many herb companies that sell capsules.

However it does take some getting use to, taking your herbs this way. If after tring the herbs this way, you find they work well for you, but find you don't like the taste. For a few dollars more you can buy a capsule
machine $7- 14.00 and capsules for $7.00
for 1000.

You'll find that for this small investment will turn into gret savings over buying brand capsules.

I suffer moderate depression, slight insomnia, stress, and sometimes I get stupidly angry for no reason. I was on Prozac but found it's not for me. I don't want to start trying every thing in the world from the medical field for this, so I've been wondering about the alternative meds.

Can anyone tell me what the differences between are? They all seem to treat the same things to me but I want to make sure I choose the correct one for

 
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Old 08-30-2002, 01:09 PM   #3
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Herbs are medicine, so pls make sure you check drug/drug and drug/food interactions. Also check the FDA site for alerts.

FDA-CFSAN Dietary Supplements Warnings and Safety Information [url="http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/%7Edms/ds-warn.html"]http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/%7Edms/ds-warn.html[/url]

Aromatic and Medicinal Plants Index [url="http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/med-aro/toc.html"]http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/med-aro/toc.html[/url]

NIH page for spleep disorders: [url="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/sleepdisorders.html"]http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/sleepdisorders.html[/url]

I tried valerian twice and both times I gagged from the smell/taste and next morning woke up feeling 'drugged' even with the smaller recommended dose. Kava Kava is now on the FDA's danger list - too many problems showing up some of them severe. St. John's Wort is still considered safe overall but there are now several well-documented drug/drug interactions, side-effects and contraindications.

The NIH complementary and alternative medicine clinical trials is a good place for reading up on what is currently known or suspected re: various alt and herbal meds.
[url="http://nccam.nih.gov/clinicaltrials/treatmenttherapy.htm"]http://nccam.nih.gov/clinicaltrials/treatmenttherapy.htm[/url]

 
Old 08-31-2002, 08:54 PM   #4
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The following information came from the second link.
------------------------------------------------------
VALERIAN:

Traditional medical usage classifies valerian as an antispasmodic, calmative, carminative, nervine, stomachic, vermifuge, and tonic. The herb has been used against fever, fatigue, headaches, insomnia, hysteria, epileptic seizures, and stress. Chinese herbal medicine employs valerian for treatment of influenza, rheumatism, neurasthenia, insomnia, and traumatic injuries (11.1-10). The roots or the oil of valerian roots depresses the central nervous system (14.1-11). The many iridoids called valepotriates of valerian are reported to have a high degree of biological activity with central depressive action resembling tranquilizers (7.6-161). Competition from other products has led to a decline in the use of valerian-based sedatives.

St. John's Wort:

More than a dozen prescription drugs are routinely used to treat America's depression. All of them are synthetic, and they all produce more or less unpleasant side effects ranging from skin rashes to overtly violent behavior. Meanwhile, in Germany the most popular prescription drug of any type, natural or synthetic, for the treatment of depression is a concentrated extract of the flowers and leaves of St. John's wort, often simply called hypericum. More than 200,000 prescriptions per month are filled for a single brand (Jarsin) there compared to about 30,000 per month for fluoxetine (Prozac). This figure does not include sales of other hypericum products, whether prescribed or self-selected. Actually, 80–90% of the sales in Germany are prescriptions, which allows their cost to be reimbursed by the health insurance system.

Kava:

The results of 5 controlled, double-blind clinical trials carried out with a total of 410 subjects over periods ranging from 28 to 84 days, using daily doses of kavapyrones between 30 and 210 mg, were all positive. For example, in 1995, 100 patients suffering anxiety and stress symptoms were given 210 mg of kavapyrones daily. After 8 weeks, the treated subjects were clearly improved in comparison to those receiving a placebo. As for side effects, 15 persons receiving the placebo reported them in comparison to only 5 taking kava extract.

I've been using Valerian and St. John's off and on for 12 year without any side effects. Valerian is also rich in Calcium


 
Old 09-01-2002, 09:48 AM   #5
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There was a well publicized study completed several months ago showing that kava can and does sometimes cause liver damage. Also, kava should not be taking during pregnancy or while nursing. Certain herbs, kava among them can cause thinning of blood and resistance to anesthesia so should not be taken prior to surgery. Finally kava should not be taken in conjunction with certain prescription anti depressants such as xanax as it can cause coma. This information is all available through *****.

I would urge you to discuss any use of herbs and vitamins you are considering taking with your physician.

 
Old 09-01-2002, 12:13 PM   #6
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Hi Amy42601,

Gee, do you you still want more advice? MOST of what was said here is pretty right on! I'd like to make some additions.

Joy Tor nailed it - HERBS ARE MEDICINES. This isn't directly to you, but lots of others, too - would you go into a pharmacy and start concocting for your own use? Most would be terrified to do this, considering it much too dangerous. There is NO DIFFERENCE when using herbs! Do you , like most of the worlds' governments, consider marijuana or opium to be drugs? They are both HERBS. That said....

Kava is generally grown in Indonesia, where it is becoming an increasing problem for authorities. Given the 'calming' effect of the drug, it is used there in much the same way as marijuanas' street use in the US. It is known to cause liver damage, and there have been deaths associated with its use (NO deaths associated with marijuana use http://www.healthboards.com/ubb/dance.gif )

Valerian is a good muscle relaxer and does reuduce feelings of anxiety. Pretty rank smelling stuff (much like a locker of old, sweaty socks). Easy solution: put rec. dose in a shot glass and fill with OJ, hold your nose and slam it back. Chase with a tall glass of water.

St John's Wort is EXCELLENT for MILD-To MODERATE depression, and also affords some muscle pain relief. However, it does NOT work for serious depression, so one needs to evaluate the degree. The therapeutic dose is 900mg/day, which would be pretty hard for the layman to determine.

Mixing your own might save you money, but is rather like russian roulette. There is no way for you to determine the quality of the herbs, their viability, how much to use per dose, ratio when mixing with others, etc. Doesn't mean a layman can't learn these things, but that takes time.

Simply throwing together a handful of this with a handful of that, and taking a teaspoon of the mix is not likely to provide much. Therapeutic doses of herbs require appropriate amounts, in specific ratio to others, to work most synergistically, and generally require quantities you wouldn't want to take to reach MEDICINAL levels. This is a pretty broad statement, and doesn't include EVERY herb, but enough to make the statement. A teaspoon of herbs is generally tea fixin's, usually not medicine.

my 2 cents


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Copper
Let Miracles Replace all Grievances

 
Old 09-01-2002, 03:33 PM   #7
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Hi,

If you are intent upon using herbal remedies, then that is fine, but can I suggest that you also seriously consider either acupuncture or homeopathy as alternatives? They are safe and can achieve results that are just as good as herbal remedies for the symptoms that you describe.


 
Old 09-01-2002, 09:41 PM   #8
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Simply throwing together a handful of this with a handful of that, and taking a teaspoon of the mix is not likely to provide much. Therapeutic doses of herbs require appropriate amounts. A teaspoon of herbs is generally tea fixin's, usually not medicine.

[/B][/QUOTE]

Most herbal medicinal tea's are recommended at 1-4 teaspoons herb to a cup of water, 1-4 times a day depending on what your treating for, from a refreshing cup of tea to cancer.

Mixing herbs together for your own benefits changes the way you heal yourself from how others heal themselves. That's why people like myself use bulk herbs, so we can use the herbs that benefit and avoid
the herbs that are fillers.

It's always extremely important to do your own research
before you take anything herbal, over-the-counter, and including all prescription drugs. Relying on what people say on these boards without doing research can be deadly. The 10 most prescribed drugs for depression are not recommended for long time use, but they are used for long time use.

Many well established herb companies use Kava in their remedies to address the central nervous system, without the fear of law suits from liver damage.

Also just because the herbs are pre-capsuled does not
mean the quality of herbs used are the finest that can be found. Generally the cheaper the bottle the poorer
the quality of herbs used. Not to say that the most expensive brands use the finest quality of herbs.

A level 1/2 teaspoon of powdered herbs is equal to 2-3 "0" (500mg.) capsules depending on how tight the capsules are packed.

A word about prescription drugs:

Each year there are approximately 61,000 older adults with drug-induced parkinsonism, 32,000 with hip fractures including 1,500 deaths attributable to drug-induced falls, 16,000 injurious car crashes caused by adverse drug reactions, 163,000 with drug induced or drug-worsened memory loss, 659,000 who have to be hospitalized because of adverse drug reactions, including 41,000 hospitalizations ---3,300 deaths ---
from ulcers caused by nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, usually for arthritis, and hundreds of thousands with drug-induced dizziness or fainting. Over half (50.5%) of the Food and Drug Administration adverse reaction reports of deaths and 39% of hospitalizations related to adverse drug reactions are in older adults. All told, 9.6 million older adults suffer an adverse drug reaction each year.

 
Old 09-02-2002, 12:40 PM   #9
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Hi!
just wanted to throw my two cents in:

i have been taking Valerian Root for anxiety and insomnia since i was about 13 (on and off) and have found it works wonderful.

i have no experience with Kava Kava, though i hear wonderful things about it.

------------------
~*~Raina~*~

"That the birds of worry and care fly over your head: This you cannot change; But that they build nests in your hair: This you can prevent." -Chinese Proverb
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~*~Raina~*~

"That the birds of worry and care fly over your head: This you cannot change; But that they build nests in your hair: This you can prevent." -Chinese Proverb

 
Old 09-17-2002, 08:22 PM   #10
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A book worth having, is "How To Be Your Own Herbal Pharmacist" by Linda Rector-Page Ph.D., N.D.

It's a using book, not just a reading book. I've used mine so much, now every time I open it, all the pages fall out. It's like no other herbal book you'll ever see. Recommends sample herbal tea's, extracts, capsule combinations, baths, ete, with the use of bulk herb.

Acupuncture is great and very, very good if you are able to find a doctor that knows what their doing, if not, it's just a waste of your time and money.

I like the benefits from acupuncture so much, that I bought a $75.00 book called "Acupuncture a Comprehensive text and some needles. But can't seem to stick myself yet! One day maybe I will.

Another herb that's good for anxiety is Blue Vervain.
It grows wild here in South Texas, and when needed I just pick it and chew some. It is a little bitter when used fresh, but worth it.



 
Old 10-03-2002, 10:56 AM   #11
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I am wondering, Amy, what you ever ended up taking? I am looking into the kava and/or St. John's Wort myself and would love to hear from you. Thanks.

 
Old 10-03-2002, 03:24 PM   #12
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wackytoposthere, you're a tireless poster! I really appreciate all the information you share.

And I really appreciate the level-headedness here. If you expect powerful things from herbs then you should expect them to be powerful, so be cautious.

Maybe I can share some of my (limited) wisdom soon

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