Effects of Valerian and Kava on Stress.

Date:

28-Jan-2002

Source

Phytother Res

Related Monographs

Consumer Data: Kava Stress Valerian
Professional Data: Kava Stress Valerian

Article

Stress refers to anything that disturbs an individual's physical, mental, or emotional equilibrium. The body has numerous stress response mechanisms and stress can affect the body in many different ways. In fact the same form of stress might cause one individual to get a migraine, a second person to have an ulcer attack, and a third to have elevated blood pressure. It is important to realize that stress is not all bad. Stress is a normal part of life. What really matters is how much stress, what kind of stress, and ultimately, how each individual handles his or her stresses.

There are a number of ways to deal with stress. One is to realize that stress places additional demands on the body in terms of energy and nutrition. Therefore, providing the body with additional nutrients such as B-vitamins and antioxidants during times of acute stress or long-term chronic stress can support the body's ability to handle stress. Other approaches involve trying to minimize the amount of time and level of stress that one is exposed to. Things like stressful jobs, fast paced lifestyles, and jammed freeways often make it difficult to reduce the stress in one's life. Engaging in regular exercise, meditation, or deep breathing exercises may be effective at lowering stress levels.

A recent study investigated the effects of kava or valerian supplementation on psychological responses due to stress. A total of 54 health volunteers were the subjects of this examination. Two color/word mental stress tasks were performed on the subjects, each one week apart. Blood pressure and heart rate were recorded after the first week's task. For the seven days, 18 individuals took kava, 18 took valerian, and 18 in the control group did not receive any supplementation. After the second stress task, systolic blood pressure significantly decreased in the valerian and kava groups, but diastolic pressure did not. Both experimental groups reported a reduced feeling of stress during the second test rather than the first. The heart rate appeared to decline in the valerian group, but not in the kava group. The authors suggested that, " kava and valerian may be beneficial to health by reducing physiological reactivity during stressful situations."1

References

1. Cropley M, et al.Effect of Kava and Valerian on human physiological and psychological responses to mental stress assessed under laboratory conditions.Phytother Res. 2002;16(1):23-7.