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Kava, Valerian May Fight
Stress-Related Insomnia

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - People who are regularly kept awake at night, plagued by thoughts of work deadlines, relationship problems or other stressful life events might find relief in the herbs kava and valerian, results of a small study suggest.

When given individually, these herbs reduced stress levels and insomnia with only minor side effects, which included vivid dreams and dizziness, study author Dr. D. Wheatley reports in the September issue of Phytotherapy Research.

Twenty-four adults suffering from stress-induced insomnia received 120 milligrams (mg) daily of kava for 6 weeks. After 2 weeks off treatment, the remaining group of 19 individuals (five had dropped out of the study) received 600 mg of valerian daily for another 6 weeks. On average, the participants had suffered from insomnia for more than 15 years.

Wheatley interviewed study participants and measured levels of stress associated with social, personal and life events before and after treatment. Social stress included problems at work and with social contacts, personal stress involved emotional problems and relationships with other people, and life-events stress involved specific events.

He also measured how long it took individuals to fall asleep and the number of hours slept, and gauged their mood during the day.

With each treatment, 58% reported no side effects. But 16% said they had vivid dreams after taking valerian and 12% said they experienced dizziness with kava.

Participants reported that both herbs significantly relieved overall stress and insomnia.

``The study showed that kava and valerian were effective at relieving stress itself and insomnia caused by stress,'' Wheatley, who founded the London, UK-based Psychopharmacology Research Group, told Reuters Health. ``Further work is needed giving these products for longer periods of time to determine whether prolonged treatment may cause any side effects and to make sure that the clinical effects do not wear off after 4 weeks.''

SOURCE: Phytotherapy Research 2001;15:549-551.

Reference Source 89


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