Oregano oil is a completely natural substance derived from wild oregano species. The plant grows in remote mountainous regions free of pollution. Only the leaves of the flowering plant are used. They are picked precisely when the plant is highest in essential oil. Being wild, it is grown chemical-free and the oil is extracted via a completely natural process - no chemicals or solvents are used. The oil is the source of virtually all of the plant's active ingredients.
Oregano oil (Origanum vulgare) is well known in the Mediterranean world (Greece and Crete) for its ability to slow down food spoilage through its anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-parasitic and anti-oxidant activity. The related herbs thyme and marjoram sold in most North American supermarkets, are labeled incorrectly as oregano and possess little of wild oregano's miraculous healing properties.
The essential oil distilled from oregano contains varying amounts of thymol and carvacrol, compounds that can apparently inhibit the growth of fungi, worms, and possibly other organisms. In fact, some sources even recommend rubbing a drop or two of oregano oil into an area that is itching due to athlete's foot, a common condition caused by the Tinea versicolor fungus. Oregano contains the most powerful phenols known to man. The primary phenol is called carvacrol. It also contains thymol. Synthetic toxic phenols, frequently used as cleaning disinfectants, have never been able to match the germ killing power of the natural and non toxic phenols found in oregano oil.
The wild oregano is rich in a long list of minerals that includes calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, potassium, copper, boron, and manganese. Vitamins C and A (beta carotene) and niacin also are contained in oregano. Judging from its mineral content alone, it is not hard to figure out why oregano is such a valuable commodity. Consider some of oregano's other useful purposes and it becomes even more obvious. Additional uses for oregano and oil of oregano are multi-dimensional. It has been found helpful in combating diarrhea, intestinal gas, and digestive problems, as well as sore throat and breathing difficulties. Oil of oregano can be immediately help against bee stings and many venomous bites until medical attention can be reached. Oil of oregano has even been suggested as a treatment for dandruff, diaper rash, and other skin disorders. Among the natural antioxidants, oregano oil is one of the most powerful. It protects cells from free radical damage in the same way it prolongs the shelf life of foods. Take a few drops daily under the tongue to slow the effects of aging and maintain healthy cell structure. Oregano oil is capable of neutralizing venomous bites, making it invaluable in the wilderness or when traveling abroad. It's an effective first aid treatment for venomous bites of all varieties including bees, snakes and spiders. Oregano oil is also useful for preventing infection from animal bites and other puncture wounds. It reduces inflammation and stops the pain associated with bites and stings. Apply directly to stings or bites. The oil will penetrate into the wound and neutralize toxins and pathogens. Take a few drops internally to amplify the effect.
Green Tea Polyphenols
Green tea polyphenols are members of the flavonoids. Flavonoids are what give color to many flowers and fruits. As a whole, flavonoids are able to act against allergens, carcinogens, and viruses. This accessory nutrient is a powerful antioxidant, even stronger than vitamin C and vitamin E. Green tea polyphenols are effective for disrupting the formation of nitrosamines. Nitrosamines are the compounds formed when nitrites bind to amino acids. Nitrites are found in the curing of ham, bacon, and the like. Sources of flavonoids in general include: green tea, citrus fruits, legumes, and berries.
The polyphenols are the active players in green tea, mediating both taste profile and biological actions. From a chemical perspective, green tea polyphenols are catechins, phytochemicals composed of several linked ring-like structures. Attached to each structure are chemical tags called phenol groups, and because there are many phenol groups, these catechins are called polyphenols. Polyphenols act as antioxidants. They protect cells and body chemicals against damage caused by free radicals, reactive atoms that contribute to tissue damage in the body. For example, when low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol is oxidized, it can become glued to arteries and cause coronary heart disease. Polyphenols can also block the action of enzymes that cancers need for growth and they can deactivate substances that promote the growth of cancers. The polyphenol most strongly associated with cancer prevention is epigallocatechin-3-gallate, or EGCG.
All tea contains polyphenols. Teas and polyphenols isolated from tea have been shown in the laboratory to act as scavengers of oxygen and nitrogen-free radicals, protecting the fatty membranes of cells, proteins and DNA. However, the results of human studies of tea and polyphenols to date (2001) have been inconsistent and have yet to prove anything one way or the other as regards the value of polyphenols. In native green tea, approximately 15-30% of the weight of the leaf is composed of polyphenols; over 50% of this polyphenol fraction is comprised of (-) Epigallocatechin Gallate(EGCG), the most biologically active and influential polyphenol in green tea. Other components include the unique amino acid theanine, carotenoids, chiorophyll and caffeine. Anthocyanidins, plant pigments also found in Bilberry, Ginkgo biloba and pine bark extracts (Pycnogenol), are also found in green tea. Caffeine occurs in green tea leaves at a level of 3%; brewed green tea contains approximately 35-50 mg of caffeine per cup, contrasted to a cup of coffee, which contains between 75-95mg.
Green tea is a popular beverage consumed worldwide. The epicatechin derivatives, which are commonly called `polyphenols', are the active ingredients in green tea and possess antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic properties. Studies on human skin have demonstrated that green tea polyphenols (GTP) prevent ultraviolet (UV)-B-induced cyclobutane pyrimidine dimers (CPD), which are considered to be mediators of UVB-induced immune suppression and skin cancer induction. GTP treated human skin prevented penetration of UV radiation, which was demonstrated by the absence of immunostaining for CPD in the reticular dermis. The topical application of GTP or its most potent chemopreventive constituent (-)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) prior to exposure to UVB protects against UVB-induced local as well as systemic immune suppression in laboratory animals. Additionally, studies have shown that EGCG treatment of mouse skin inhibits UVB-induced infiltration of CD11b+ cells. CD11b is a cell surface marker for activated macrophages and neutrophils, which are associated with induction of UVB-induced suppression of contact hypersensitivity responses. EGCG treatment also results in reduction of the UVB-induced immunoregulatory cytokine interleukin (IL)-10 in skin as well as in draining lymph nodes, and an elevated amount of IL-12 in draining lymph nodes. These in vivo observations suggest that GTPs are photoprotective, and can be used as pharmacological agents for the prevention of solar UVB light-induced skin disorders associated with immune suppression and DNA damage.
Forskolin (7 beta-acetoxy-8, 13-epoxy-1 alpha,6 beta,9 alpha-trihydroxy-labd-14-ene-11-one) is the main active ingredient in the Ayurvedic herb Coleus forskohlii. Coleus is a member of the mint family and grows in subtropical areas in India, Burma, and Thialand. Forskolin has been extensively researched in the medical field for use in the treatment of allergies, respiratory problems, cardiovascular diseases, glaucoma, and many other conditions. It has also recently gained popularity as a fat loss agent.
Forskolin is an extract of an Ayurvedic herb that resensitizes cell receptors by activating the enzyme adenylcyclase and increasing the levels of cyclic AMP in cells. Cyclic AMP is an important signal carrier that is necessary for the proper biological response of cells to hormones. It is required for cell communication in the hypothalamus/pituitary gland axis and for the feedback control of hormones, including thyroid, HGH, Cortisol, DHEA, Testosterone, and Melatonin.
Forskolin appears to bypass this need for direct hormonal activation of adenylate cyclase via transmembrane activation. As a result of this activation of adenylate cyclase intracellular cAMP levels rise. The physiological and biochemical effects of a raised intracellular cAMP level include: inhibition of platelet activation and degranulation; inhibition of mast cell degranulation and histamine release; increased force of contraction of heart muscle; relaxation of the arteries and other smooth muscles; increased insulin secretion; increased thyroid function; and increased lipolysis (fat destruction). Recent studies have found forskolin to possess additional mechanisms of action independent of its ability to directly stimulate adenylate cyclase and cAMP dependent physiological responses. Specifically forskolin has been shown to inhibit a number of membrane transport proteins and channel proteins through a mechanism that does not involve the production of cAMP. The result is again a transmembrane signaling that results in activation of other cellular enzymes.
Forskolin causes the arteries to relax. Because this can lower blood pressure, forskolin should not be used in tandem with blood pressure-lowering medications. Forskolin relaxes the bronchial muscles and may dangerously increase the potency or action of certain asthma drugs, including albuterol, theophylline, and beclomethasone. The basic mechanism of action of forskolin is the activation of an enzyme, adenylate cyclase, which increases cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) in cells. Cyclic AMP is perhaps the most important cell-regulating compound. Once formed it activates many other enzymes involved in diverse cellular functions. Under normal situations cAMP is formed when a stimulatory hormone (e.g., epinephrine) binds to a receptor site on the cell membrane and stimulates the activation of adenylate cyclase. This enzyme is incorporated into all cellular membranes and only the specificity of the receptor determines which hormone will activate it in a particular cell. Forskolin appears to bypass this need for direct hormonal activation of adenylate cyclase via transmembrane activation. As a result of this activation of adenylate cyclase intracellular cAMP levels rise. The physiological and biochemical effects of a raised intracellular cAMP level include: inhibition of platelet activation and degranulation; inhibition of mast cell degranulation and histamine release; increased force of contraction of heart muscle; relaxation of the arteries and other smooth muscles; increased insulin secretion; increased thyroid function; and increased lipolysis. Recent studies have found forskolin to possess additional mechanisms of action independent of its ability to directly stimulate adenylate cyclase and cAMP dependent physiological responses. Specifically forskolin has been shown to inhibit a number of membrane transport proteins and channel proteins through a mechanism that does not involve the production of cAMP. The result is again a transmembrane signaling that results in activation of other cellular enzymes. Research is underway in the attempt to determine the exact receptors to which the forskolin is binding. Another action of forskolin is on antagonizing the action of platelet-activating factor (PAF) by interfering with PAF binding to receptor sites. PAF plays a central role in many inflammatory and allergic processes including neutrophil activation, increasing vascular permeability, smooth muscles contraction including bronchoconstriction, and reduction in coronary blood flow.
Black Walnut Extract
Black Walnut is also known by the names English Walnut and Persian Walnut. The genus name "Juglans" or "jovis glans" means "Jupiter's nut." Mythology tells us that the 'gods' residing on earth lived off Walnuts. The name "Walnut" is from the Teutonic "welsche nuss", meaning "foreign nut". Because Walnuts are similar to the shape of the human head, they were historically thought to benefit the brain. Furthermore, in Asian medicine, Black Walnuts were regarded as a kidney tonic, which makes sense as they consider the brain to be governed by the kidneys. Walnuts have also been carried by some cultures as a charm for fertility. Black Walnut Bark, including the kernel and the green hull, have been used by the Asians to expel various kinds of intestinal worms, as well as by some American Indian tribes. A substance taken to expel or control parasites (most often referred to as "worms") is technically called a "vermifuge." The fruit, leaves and bark of the Black Walnut tree offer many other benefits.
Black Walnut is a rich source of iodine and trace minerals. It also contains linolenic acid and vitamin C in the form of ascorbic acid. Alkaloids in black walnut may have anti-tumor properties. Taken internally, Black Walnut helps relieves constipation, and is also useful against fungal & parasitic infections. It may also help eliminate warts, which are troublesome growths caused by viruses. Rubbed on the skin, Black Walnut extract is reputed to be beneficial for eczema, herpes, psoriasis, and skin parasites. External applications have been known to kill ringworm. The Chinese use this herb to kill tapeworms with extremely good success. The high tannin content is primarily responsible for its anthelmintic property, although other constituents such as juglandin, juglone and juglandic acid may also be involved. It is known that Black Walnut oxygenates the blood to kill parasites. The brown stain found in the green husk contains organic iodine which has antiseptic and healing properties. Black Walnut is also used to balance sugar levels and burn up excessive toxins and fatty materials. Black Walnut has the ability to fight against fungal infections, and acts with an antiseptic property which helps fight bacterial infection.
Black walnut hulls contain tannins and quinone compounds. These tannins and quinone compounds are the primary components that give this herb the ability to expel worms and other parasites. It has been used to expel intestinal parasites, worms, and yeast. Traditional uses of black walnut are: expel parasites, worms, yeast, lower blood pressure, help thyroid problems (especially low thyroid output), skin fungus, asthma, beriberi, diarrhea, sore throat, and lung disease. Powdered black walnut has been used to clean teeth and tighten gums.
Ginkgo Biloba Extract is is an herbal supplement widely used to improve memory and cognitive function and also in the treatment of intermittant claudication, a vascular constriction disorder of the lower legs that results in calf pain upon exertion. It is also used in the treatment of tinnitus. Improving circulation in the brain and enhancing mental performance are the key benefits of supplementing the diet with Ginkgo Biloba.
Due to the high levels of natural phytochemicals such as terpene lactones, it is among the most recognized, respected and recommended botanicals throughout Europe and the U.S.A. Terpene lactones are found in the leaves of the Ginkgo Biloba tree. These phytochemicals are responsible for the beneficial effects and actions of Ginkgo extract. The biochemically-friendly extraction process ensures that the important Ginkgolides A, B, C and Bilobalide potencies are maintained at their highest levels.Health benefits derived from this unique extract formulation include improved circulation to the extremities. A potent vasodilator, Ginkgo allows more oxygen to the brain, enhancing mental acuity and performance. This highest-quality Gingko supplement is encapsulated easy-to-take soft gelatin capsules in a base containing Rice Bran oil, Carob Extract and Lecithin.
Ginkgo Biloba comes from the ornamental Chinese Tree. The ginkgo biloba tree originated in China thousands of years ago. The extract from it's fan shaped leaves is a very popular herbal product. The Flavone Glycosides present in the extract have shown to have an effect on the body's vascular system. Medicinal use of ginkgo can be traced back almost 5,000 years in Chinese herbal medicine. The nuts of the tree were most commonly recommended and used to treat respiratory tract ailments. The use of the leaves is a modern development originating in Europe. Research has shown that ginkgo Biloba reduces the tendency for dangerous clots or thromboses to form in the veins and arteries, aiding in the recovery from strokes and heart attacks.
The medical benefits of Ginkgo biloba extract (GBE) are attributed primarily to two groups of active constituents: the ginkgo flavone glycosides and the terpene lactones. Ginkgo flavone glycosides, which typically make up approximately 24% of the extract, are primarily responsible for GBE’s antioxidant activity and may mildly inhibit platelet aggregation (stickiness). These two actions may help GBE prevent circulatory diseases, such as atherosclerosis, and support the brain and central nervous system.1 In addition to the cardiovascular system, GBE’s antioxidant action may also extend to the brain and retina of the eye. Preliminary trials have suggested potential benefit for people with macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy. The terpene lactones found in GBE, known as ginkgolides and bilobalide, typically make up approximately 6% of the extract. They are associated with increasing circulation to the brain and other parts of the body and may exert a protective action on nerve cells. GBE regulates the tone and elasticity of blood vessels, making circulation more efficient.
According to the American Botanical Council pamphlet on ginkgo, Ginkgo preparations currently available on the world market include dried leaf, tinctures, homeopathic preparations and various extracts. The leaves are a rich complex of chemical structures. Active consitutents include bioflavonoids, such as the flavonoid glycosides kaempferol, quercetin and isorhamnetine; flavones; and organic acids. Since large amounts of gingko need to be used to get a pharmacologic effect, it is best used in extract form.
St John's Wort Extract
One of the best herbs for mood elevation is St. John's wort. Several controlled studies have shown positive results in treating patients with mild to moderate depression. Improvement was shown with symptoms of sadness, helplessness, hopelessness, anxiety, headache and exhaustion with no reported side effects.
Its action is based on the ability of the active ingredient, hypericin to inhibit the breakdown of neurotransmitters in the brain. The herb also inhibits monoamine oxidase (MAO) and works as a serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SRI); both are actions similar to drugs prescribed for depression. In Germany, nearly half of depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders are treated with hypericin. St. John's wort should not be taken with any other antidepressants, it is not effective for severe depression, and no one should stop taking any prescribed medications for depression without proper medical care.
St. John's wort has been administered in the treatment of many illnesses. The most well known action of St. John's wort is in repairing nerve damage and reducing pain and inflammation. The herb has been used to relieve menstrual cramping, sciatica, and arthritis. It has a favorable action on the secretion of bile and thus soothes the digestive system.
The blossoms have been used in folk medicine to relieve ulcers, gastritis, diarrhea and nausea. St. John's wort can also be effective in the treatment of incontinence and bed-wetting in children. Externally it is used on cuts as a disinfectant and to relieve inflammation and promote healing. The oil can be applied to sprains, bruises and varicose veins. Folk medicine has also has used it as a treatment for cancer.
The active constituents in the herb (there are over 50) include hypericin and pseudohypericin, flavonoids, tannins and procyanidins. The tannins are responsible for the astringent effect for wound healing. Hypericin increases capillary blood flow and is a MAO inhibitor.
There are many studies documenting the clinical effects of hypericum as an antidepressant treatment similar to several synthetic antidepressants, but with a minimum of side effects. Hypericin has been demonstrated to increase theta waves in the brain. Theta waves normally occur during sleep and have been associated with deep meditation, serene pleasure and heightened creative activity. St. John's wort effectually may improve perception and clarify thinking processes.
Common Use: St. John's wort has been used traditionally as an herbal treatment for anxiety and depression. It is an effective astringent that promotes wound healing and has antiviral properties that can counter herpes simplex, flu viruses.
Ginseng is the root of two different herbs from opposite sides of the world, American ginseng (P. quinquefolius) and Asian ginseng (P. ginseng). American ginseng is wild-harvested and grown in eastern North America. Asian ginseng, which includes both Korean and Chinese ginseng, is cultivated in China, Korea, and Japan. Ginseng is a herbaceous perennial. It has fleshy roots with the texture of a parsnip, branched with root hairs and up to 30cm long. The stem has whorled leaves, which are leaves that are arranged in a circle around the stem. Each leaf on a mature plant has five leaflets.
Panax ginseng has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years as a tonic indicated for its beneficial effects on the central nervous system, protection from stress ulcers, increase of gastrointestinal motility, anti-fatigue action, enhancement of sexual function and acceleration of metabolism. Siberian ginseng did not really come into the picture as a botanical remedy until the 20th century. Found in the northern regions of the former Soviet Union, the roots of Eleutherococcus senticosus were sought out as a cheaper substitute for the expensive Oriental ginsengs. Soviet researchers found Siberian ginseng to be an excellent tonic to enhance athletic performance as well as to strengthen the body during times of stress. Modern herbalists consider Siberian ginseng to be a more neutral, less stimulating adaptogen than its cousin, Panax ginseng. Several other "ginsengs" are used as adaptogenic tonics throughout the world; among them are Panax quinquefolium (also known as American ginseng) and Ashwagandha, sometime called Indian ginseng, (although not a true ginseng). American ginseng is the most similar to "true" ginseng and is actually prized in the Orient where it is thought to provide a "cooler" invigoration than the native ginsengs.
Ginseng is often called an "adaptogen," because it bolsters the body's ability to resist physical and mental stress. As such, ginseng may reduce fatigue, and promote physical endurance. Ginseng also works like a tonic, protecting the body against disease. Along with increasing resistance to diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and various infections, the medical literature on ginseng claims that it can improve memory, increase fertility, protect the liver against many toxins, and protect the body from radiation.
The active chemicals in ginseng are called ginsenosides, and many of these are known to have specific effects on the immune, hormonal, cardiovascular, and central nervous systems. How exactly ginseng exerts its effects is unclear, although several ginsenosides have been found to either stimulate or depress the activity of the central nervous system. Many ginsenosides are antioxidant compounds that protect cells. In general, most of the top-quality ginseng products, whether whole root or extract, are standardized for ginsenoside content. The active components in Siberian ginseng are considered to be eleutherosides. It has been theorized that ginseng’s action in the body is due to its stimulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary axis to secrete adrenal corticotropic hormone (ACTH). ACTH has the ability to bind directly to brain cells and can affect a variety of behaviors in the body. These behaviors might include motivation, vitality, performance and arousal.
Ginseng, whether Siberian, Panax, or one of the other varieties, is termed an adaptogen. An adaptogen is defined as a therapeutic and restorative tonic generally considered to produce a “balancing” effect on the body. The properties required of a substance to fulfill this definition are that the substance should be innocuous and cause minimal disorders in the physiological functions of an organism, that the action be non-specific in that it increases resistance to a wide range of factors (including physical, chemical and biological factors), and that the substance should possess a normalizing action irrespective of the direction of the pathological changes. In general, an adaptogen can be thought of as a substance that helps the body to deal with stress.
Acidophilus is known as a probiotic and is part of a group of beneficial intestinal bacteria called lactobacilli. L. acidophilus is present in the intestines at birth and is eventually joined by another well known bacteria called L. bifidus. Both are highly beneficial to the proper function of the intestine and to overall health and may be the most important bacteria of over 400 species in the digestive tract. It helps maintain a norbal balance of health flora (bacteria). This form of "healthy" bacteria is beneficial to the human digestive tract so that it may continue optimal functioning and may also play an important role in supporting immune system function.
Acidophilus is the friendly bacteria which prevail in our intestine and keeps the harmful bacteria in check. Excessive use of antibiotics and drugs, chlorinated water, junk and processed foods reduce the number of friendly bacteria in our intestine. This paves the way for harmful bacteria to increase in number and cause diseases. Acidophilus can reduce the symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease, a chronic inflammation of the intestines. Along with a high-fiber diet, acidophilus contributes to overall colon health, which is necessary to help avert diverticulosis, a disorder in which the mucous lining of the colon bulges into the colon wall and creates small sacs (diverticula). Acidophilus may also relieve diarrhea triggered by irritable bowel syndrome and replenish beneficial intestinal microorganisms that diarrhea flushes out of the body.
Organic compounds produced by Acidophilus include acetic acid, hydrogen peroxide, and lactic acid. These chemical elements are responsible for increasing the acidity of the intestine and for fighting disease causing bacteria. Acidophilus is also involved in the production of B vitamins such as folic acid and niacin during the digestive process. Natural antibiotics called bacteriocins are also manufactured. These compounds are essential in the body’s fight against infectious bacteria. Lactic acid-producing microorganisms, such as L. acidophilus, have been called a "second immune system" because they put the brakes on growth of disease-causing bacteria, such as salmonella and shigella-caused dysentery, various types of diarrhea, and even virus-caused flu. Yogurt with acidophilus culture and acidophilus on its own has been shown to clear up yeast infections and vaginitis in children and adults. Acidophilus supplements usually work quickly and effectively because they contain as many as one billion individual friendly bacteria per gram. For those who cannot use milk products, acidophilus is available from carrots, soybeans, rice starch, garbanzo beans and other sources.
Many people take acidophilus to treat and prevent digestive disorders, vaginal infections, and other illnesses. As it boosts benign and suppresses destructive bacteria, acidophilus allows the body to maintain a healthy bacterial balance. Acidophilus is often recommended as a safeguard during antibiotic therapy, which can suppress beneficial bacteria and trigger the growth of yeast infections. Acidophilus may offer general health protection, as well. Several studies suggest that it functions as an immunity enhancer, and may suppress the toxic effects of carcinogens (cancer-causing agents). Acidophilus may bring relief to many people who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a constellation of gastrointestinal symptoms that include abdominal bloating, cramping, and diarrhea. If your diarrhea is due to antibiotic use, acidophilus will help to correct the bacterial imbalances caused by the drug. In fact, if you are prone to antibiotic-associated diarrhea, it's probably a good idea to start both the acidophilus and medication at the same time. It may be wise to take acidophilus along on your next trip to the tropics, as well. Some strains of traveler's diarrhea may be weakened by acidophilus, perhaps because the immune-boosting effects of probiotics help to reduce intestinal inflammation. As it restores a healthy balance of bacteria in the digestive tract, acidophilus can keep gas-producers in the large intestine from multiplying. Increasing the gut's level of good bacteria relieves flatulence while lessening gas and bloating. A yeast that normally lives in harmony in your body, Candida albicans can begin to overgrow following antibiotic therapy. Chronic candidiasis such as this can produce digestive disturbances, fatigue, and allergies, among other symptoms. Because they promote a healthy intestinal environment, acidophilus and other probiotics can help to halt Candida overgrowth. Using antibiotics only when truly necessary will also help you avoid the problem of Candida infection. Lactobacilli such as acidophilus are the dominant members of healthy bacterial life in the urinary tract. Studies have shown that as "bacteriocins" or antibiotic-like substances, they are powerful enough to neutralize Escherichia (E.) coli bacteria, the source of many urinary tract infections.
Kava Kava is a member of the pepper family and is Native to several pacific islands. The herb has been used widely for over 3,000 years by pacific native populations, and has become popular in Europe and North America. Kava Kava is a ceremonial relaxant used traditionaly by men indigenous to the Pacific islands. Today it is used by those in the West, to alleviate stress, and to promote a sense of well being. Kava Kava, or Kava for short, exerts its influence over its subjects by means of its active constituents, kavalactones. Kavalactones, bond to the same part of the brain as valium. This is known as the GABAminergic receptor site. However, unlike valium, Kava does not seem to "dumb down" the user. In fact, in one study, verbal recall (the intellect you use when you're trying to remember someone's name) is shown to improve under the influence of Kava. It seems, that Kava is more like another GABA acting substance, this substance being Piracetam, which has been shown to boost some aspects of intelligence.
Research shows that the active ingredients in Kava Kava (kava pyrones) do in fact have a calming, sedative effect. They also appear to relax the muscles, relieve spasms, and prevent convulsions. At least two scientific studies have confirmed the herb's ability to significantly reduce symptoms of anxiety. In a third study, researchers rated it as effective as prescription tranquilizers. The ingredients that give kava kava its kick are kawain, dihydrokawain, methysticin, dihydromethysticin, yangonin, and dihydroyangonin. Kava is absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract very rapidly so its effects are felt almost immediately. According to scientific studies, Kavalactones act less by inhibition of neuromuscular transmission than by a direct effect on muscular contractility. Kava's muscle-relaxant properties are similar to those of potent tranquilizers as they both act on the central nervous system. Kava contains compounds called kava lactones which have been shown to help alleviate anxiety, relieve pain, relax muscles, and prevent convulsions. 3 Unlike many popular prescription drugs, Kava reduces anxiety but does not impair mental function or cause sedation. In a double-blind crossover study conducted in Switzerland, the effects of Kava on short-term memory were compared with those of the anti-anxiety and muscle relaxant drug Oxazepam. While the drug was found to impair short term memory, Kava actually improved it slightly.
Kava is mildly narcotic and produces mild euphoric changes characterized by elevated mood, fluent and lively speech and increased sense of sound. Higher doses can lead to muscle weakness, visual impairment, dizziness and drying of the skin. Long term use of the herb can contribute to hypertension, reduced protein levels, blood cell abnormalities, or liver damage. Alcohol consumption increases the toxicity of the pharmacological constituents. It is not recommended for those who intend on driving or where quick reaction time is required. Kava is the most relaxing botanical herb with exception of the opium poppy. Pharmacological studies show kava kava's active ingredients, kavalactones, produce physical and mental relaxation and a feeling of well being. It has also been used in the treatment of ailments of the genitourinary tract including vaginitis, gonorrhea and menstrual cramps. Kava is a diuretic and an anti-inflammatory, thus useful for gout, rheumatism, bronchial congestion, cystitis and prostatis. It is an effective local anesthetic and pain reliever when applied externally as a liniment. The relaxed state and sharpening of senses also contribute to aphrodisiac effect.
Kava is promoted primarily for anxiety, nervous tension, stress, restlessness, and at higher doses, insomnia. Many users say the herb enhances mood and brings on a sense of well being, relaxation and even euphoria. In South Pacific folk medicine, kava has been used to treat uterine inflammations, headaches, colds, rheumatism, and menopausal symptoms. They also drink it to relieve headaches, restore vigor, promote urination, soothe upset stomachs, ease symptoms of asthma and tuberculosis, and to cure fungal infections. Some users believe that kava inhibits gonorrhea. Used as a cream, kava is used to soothe stings and skin inflammations. Recent clinical studies have shown that the herb Kava is a safe, non-addictive anti-anxiety medicine, and as effective as prescription anxiety agents containing benzodiazepines. While benzodiazepines tend to promote lethargy and mental impairment, Kava has been shown to improve concentration, memory, and reaction time for people suffering from anxiety. Kava has been clinically demonstrated as a means of achieving a state of relaxation without the adverse side effects.