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Kava Kava: Relax, Naturally

The calming effects of the herbal plant kava kava has been used by Pacific Islanders for centuries.

We all need a little help slowing down these days. But with e-mail, cellular phones and faxes, who's got time to relax? Enter kava kava, a tropical plant that has been dubbed "Nature's Valium." Sold as a capsule, liquid, spray or tea, Piper methysticum is relatively new to North America. South Pacific Islanders, though, have used it for hundreds of years as a calming nectar and in religious ceremonies. In addition to soothing anxiety, kava is also used as an antispasmodic and pain reliever. Women suffering from menstrual cramps sometimes find relief by taking kava kava.