Kava Kava – the Tranquilizing Tonic

Kava Kava is a root from the Western Pacific, taken in America in the form of a concentrate or tea to alleviate stress, anxiety and insomnia.  It’s classified as a tranquilizer and studies show it is more effective than placebo in treating short-term anxiety. It tastes like spicy dirt, but it works very quickly.  It is very mellow and just sort of brings about a sense of relaxation.  I take it rarely, but when I do, it’s usually at night when my anxiety is lurking.  I don’t take it often because I believe everything in moderation, plus as I mentioned, it is very mellow and not super strong, but it does help.  It’s natural and can be found at most health stores.  If you decide to get it, I recommend the regular concentrate, not the alcohol free one.  For some reason alcohol free tonics are just not as potent.

I went on vacation to Kona, Hawaii a few years ago and my now-fiancé and I discovered a kava bar so of course I had to see what it was all about. The bartender had a huge bowl of kava kava tea which looked like dirty milky water and numbs the tongue. My fiancé chugged it like a pro, but I sipped it, having trouble with the taste. Many locals sat around, relaxed, like they had been there all day. My fiancé’s eyes were soon bloodshot and then we took off to the beach. I felt very relaxed and definitely buzzed, and my stomach felt very content as well, unlike alcohol, which sometimes irritates my stomach. We swam in the beach and it was awesome!

hawaii beach

Click here to watch my video post about Kava Kava on my youtube channel.

Caffeine = Panic Attack

I have a sinus arrhythmia/tachycardia (speedy heart rate) and since teenhood, my doctors have said “no caffeine!”  I have found that my anxiety goes up when I do have it.  It makes sense though, I mean the last thing someone with OCD needs is a stimulant, right?  I have decaf when I order coffee and I still drink tea.  I have found that for me personally, the caffeine content in tea is not high enough to warrant a problem. I also rarely need a “jolt” of energy as I am anxious much of the time and usually feel pretty “awake”.  When I need energy, I go for fruit juice or tea.

My heart rate is typically too fast at rest. When my adrenaline spikes due to anxiety, with any added stimulants like caffeine, I most likely go into a panic attack. I get dizzy and fall over, convulse, my jaw and hands lock, and I wait till it’s over. The first time I experienced a panic attack was quite intense. I thought I was dying. I was driving with my then-boyfriend when suddenly, my vision faded into black with random color spots. It almost looked like a rainy dark night with ambulance lights off in the distance. I fell to the driver’s window, still without my vision and an overwhelming sense of guilt. I thought I had killed someone, seeing flashes of what I thought could be an ambulance near a car accident.   My then-boyfriend had grabbed the wheel and we coasted to the sidewalk.  When I came back around, I had no idea what had happened to me, and I cried for hours wondering if I really had killed someone. I went to the doctor who diagnosed me.

I experienced panic attacks every few days and was no longer allowed to drive at night.

At that time, I worked at a movie theatre and drank a lot of soda, but when I gave up soda and caffeine, my panic attacks started to fade away.

They vanished when I met my fiance. I think this is because I feel calm with him, and having a comfortable, stress free environment helps a lot.