Try kava (Piper methysticum), a relaxing South Pacific herb with sedative, tranquilizing properties. A recent meta-analysis of randomized, placebo-controlled trials on kava extract WS®1490 concludes that this herb is “effective for patients with non-psychotic anxiety disorders,” making it an alternative to anxiety drugs.
“Unlike prescription drugs for anxiety, kava does not appear to interfere with mental alertness, upset the stomach, or foster a dependency,” says herbalist Steven Foster. While kava is not recommended for pregnant or nursing women, Germany recently rescinded its ban on this herb, which has a long history of safe use in the Pacific Islands. Elsewhere, kava is not recommended for children under 12 years of age and should be used with caution by the elderly, particularly those with Parkinson’s disease. In general, this herb is not advised for long periods of time (more than four weeks).