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By Zane Yoshida

Stressed out?

Do you reach for the kava supplements or crack open the pill bottle?

What are the stress-relieving effects and also the potential side effects?

Valium, Diazepam or Antenex pills

Since the early 1960s, one of the most common drugs in treating anxiety and stress is Valium/ Diazapam/ Antenex.

These are all different marketing names for the same Benzodiazepine drug, made by the Swiss pharmaceutical giant, Hoffmann La Roche. In fact it is marketed in over 500 brands around the world.

The drug is used in a number of other situations, as well as for reliving stress, due to a combination of its anticonvulsant, sedative, skeletal muscle relaxant, and amnestic properties.

The main effect of Diazepam is to suppress nervous system activity. Users of the drug quickly feel more relaxed and at ease and it has a high rate of efficacy.

Possible adverse effects of the drug include amnesia (especially in high doses), and a feeling of sedation, confusion and lack of mental clarity.

It has been reported that usage can cause depression, or worsen existing cases, and other side effects can include disturbance of sleep patterns, nausea and  impaired motor function, coordination and balance.

One major problem is that the body can develop tolerance of the drug or become dependent on it. Reductions of Diazepam can cause withdrawal symptoms in users, with the cognitive problems persisting long after the drug has been stopped.

Kava supplements

It is well documented that traditionally-prepared kava produces a mild calming and relaxing effect, which is why it has been used in social situations in the South Pacific for many centuries.

The active ingredients in kava are the kavalactones which, when ingested, have been proven to be a good short-term stress reliever.

Drinkers of kava also report added mental clarity and patience, which is the complete reverse to the effects of Valium.

The only potentially negative side effects of drinking kava supplements prepared in the traditional way are numbness of the lips and tongue after drinking and pupil dilation, bloodshot eyes or loss of appetite – but only when drunk in large amounts.

The reports you may read about potential liver toxicity with kava refer to a European ban (since reversed) which was based on kava produced not in the traditional way using cold water, but with chemical additives.

Kava takes a while longer to act than Valium; the effects usually start around 20 minutes after drinking a cup and will last up to about 2 hours.

Prolonged usage of kava does not result in any hangover or disturbance to sleep and dependency on kava is unheard of.

Next time you’re feeling tense, anxious or stressed, take your pick between kava supplements and the pill bottle. We at Taki Mai know which one we recommend!

Sources for this article:
http://www.healthsalon.com/kavakava.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diazepam
Kay DW, Fahy T, Garside RF (December 1970). “A seven-month double-blind trial of amitriptyline and diazepam in ECT-treated depressed patients”Br J Psychiatry 117 (541): 667–71. DOI:10.1192/bjp.117.541.667PMID 4923720.
Riss, J.; Cloyd, J.; Gates, J.; Collins, S. (August 2008). “Benzodiazepines in epilepsy: pharmacology and pharmacokinetics” (PDF). Acta Neurol Scand 118 (2): 69–86. DOI:10.1111/j.1600-0404.2008.01004.xPMID 18384456
“Treating Anxiety — Avoiding Dependence on Xanax, Klonopin, Valium, and Other Antianxiety Drugs”johnshopkinshealthalerts.com. Johnshopkinshealthalerts.com. 2005. Retrieved 2007-12-23.
Whiting, PJ. (February 2006). “GABA-A receptors: a viable target for novel anxiolytics?”. Curr Opin Pharmacol 6 (1): 24–9. DOI:10.1016/j.coph.2005.08.005PMID 16359919.
Kozená L; Frantik E, Horváth M. (May 1995). “Vigilance impairment after a single dose of benzodiazepines”. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 119 (1): 39–45. DOI:10.1007/BF02246052PMID 7675948
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Kava Supplements vs Valium Pills