Expert Opinions

Expert Opinions Archive
I was recently in Italy performing with my music group and came down with a bad case of stage fright. My hosts suggested some kava from the local farmacia, but I was reluctant. Should I have given it a try?

T.C., Norwalk, CT

Kava (250 mg 3 times a day) was commonly used in Europe for for short-term anxiety. Roberta Lee, M.D., who has practiced at the University of Arizona Health Sciences Center in Tucson, uses herbs in her practice. However, she doesn't recommend trying any herb for the first time under unfamiliar circumstances, including foreign travel. (The FDA issued warnings on kava due to its adverse effects on the liver. Before using this herb, please read the entry on kava in the WholeHealthMD Reference Library)

"I would advise anyone, including a family member, not to take any herbal medication for the first time when going to a foreign place," she cautions. "People have unique body chemistries, and it's possible that a new herb could have untoward side effects that no one has anticipated. Like any other medication, get to know an herb a couple of weeks ahead of time--before you have to perform or drive or travel. Make sure you know how your body reacts to it. Though I think we'll find over the long haul that herbs are gentler than drugs, they nonetheless have active ingredients. People tend to forget that fact."

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