Stress rips through your body like a buzz saw, tensing every nerve, pushing your adrenal glands into overdrive and robbing precious years from your life. Stress is no joke, and millions of Americans live their lives in such a heightened state of anxiety that their bodies no longer respond properly.
Anxiety is one of the most significant health issues of our century, to the extent that it is being called a global epidemic. Although being stressed is a normal and often healthy response, excessive stress can be disabling. This is sometimes referred to as ‘burnout,” and millions of Americans are burning out on a daily basis.
To treat the ever-increasing problem of stress and anxiety, we have become a pill-popping nation. Sales of anti-stress medications continue to rise, and a comprehensive global report on anxiety disorders market forecasts that it will reach almost $6 billion by 2017.
The sad fact is that the response rate to pharmacological treatment protocols is shaky at best. Over one-third of people taking anti-anxiety medication do not respond to drugs, and many carry significant side effects that counter any positives they deliver.
So, what are we to do about all this pent up stress that is crippling our lives? The solution, many health experts feel, can be found in safe and effective natural therapies. When these are combined with a healthy lifestyle such as a balanced non-processed food diet, adequate rest, and regular exercise, the results are amazing.
Kava – The Happy Root
One such amazing natural therapy is Kava, also known as Piper methysticum (intoxicating pepper), a shrub that is a member of the pepper family. Medicinally, it is the root of this powerful plant that has gained so much attention for its stress fighting properties. Kava makes its home in the South Pacific Islands where it is ingrained in social and religious customs and medicinal therapies and often referred to as the “root of happiness.”
Kava has a calming effect on the body and produces changes in brain waves that are similar to those seen in drugs such as Valium. An ever-expanding body of research supports its calming effects and ability to relieve anxiety, restlessness, muscle tension and even pain. Cognitive function is not impaired with kava, nor is it addictive. Both the American Herbal Products Association and the World Health Organization have conducted tests on the safety and effectiveness of this herb.
Kava is an extremely important export crop for many islanders. It takes about 2- 5 years to grow a crop, so it is now well protected in many parts of the world. The most potent organic source of Kava in the world is found in Vanuatu, where the so-called “happiest people on earth” are found.
Although the substance looks and tastes like muddy water, Vanuatu is one of the only places where kava is prepared the old fashioned way, preserving all of its therapeutic benefits. While the appearance and taste take a little getting used to, the benefits of this incredible herb are certainly worth pursuing.
Other Stress Reducing Herbs
Kava is in good company with other well-researched natural anti-stress herbs such as:
Passion flower: This beautiful flower, also known as Passiflora, is both edible and medicinal and is known for its calming properties and as a sleep aid. Passionflower is the perfect complement to our hurried culture and can quickly take the edge off of a supercharged day. With millions of Americans suffering from chronic insomnia and a host of other sleep disorders, this pretty little herb offers help. A number of studies confirm this flower’s sedative and anxiolytic effects.
Lobelia: Lobelia has a long history of use as a muscle relaxant and has also been found to decrease adrenaline in the body. As lobelia reduces tension, it also slows and strengthens the heartbeat, calms and deepens breathing and is beneficial in halting anxiety attacks.
St. Johns Wort: This herb is one of the most commonly used herbs in the United States. It is best known for its ability to remedy mild to moderate depression and anxiety. Studies show that people who take St. John’s Wort on a daily basis experience reduced anxiety and an improved sense of overall well being.
Pulsatilla: Also known as European pasque flower and Easter flower, this ancient herb is used by herbalists to soothe nerves, relieve tension and pain and treat headaches and insomnia.
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