The natural-health industry lost kava-kava, but gained L-theanine

Re WDDTY vol 14 no 3, some years ago the amino-acid L-tryptophan was sold in healthfood stores and used by thousands of people for sleep and stress-related problems. Sadly, L-tryptophan was taken off the market when news of a rare blood disorder was linked to a defective batch. Despite improved quality control, it is still on the ‘black list’.

A similar fate has now befallen kava-kava. Reports of liver damage due to an excess intake prompted a knee-jerk withdrawal of the herb and all products containing the herb from sale. We won’t see kava making a comeback either.

One could argue that an excessive in-take of wine will cause liver damage – but we don’t see this product taken off the shelf. But, unlike dietary supplements, foods are not regulated by the pharmaceutically funded Medicines Control Agency. Make of this what you wish, but keep in mind that, in the US alone, antidepressants and antianxiety drug sales exceeded five billion dollars in 1998.

Although kava has been a great loss to the natural-health industry, in hindsight, L-theanine may then never have surfaced as a safe and effective supplement choice for stressed and anxious individuals. One or two capsules of L-theanine (100 mg) twice daily can make all the difference. Also, this herb will not make the user feel drowsy or unable to work. – Elaine Cowle, Chester

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Written by What Doctors Don't Tell You

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