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diazapam-like alkyloid?

bogus address bogus at purr.demon.co.uk
Fri May 31 10:39:18 EST 2002

>> I take valium but would much rather use an herb or root tea of some
>> sort than this chemical. Does anyone know of an alkyloid that produces
>> a strong sedative effect?
> Valerian root has been described as "natural valium", with a calming
> and sedating effect. [...]  In regards to the comparison to valium,
> that probably ends up being subjective.

Kava-kava affects the same neurometabolic pathways as benzodiazepines,
so that comparison isn't just subjective.

Its active ingredients aren't alkaloids.

More importantly, its traditional use is occasional, as a recreational
drug; you get literally paralytic on it at an interval of weeks.  That
pattern of use has been estabished as safe for centuries.  Its use in
the Western "alternative medicine" manner, as a sedative to take every
day, has NOT got that track record, and the fact that it acts in similar
ways to Valium suggests that it has similar addiction hazards.  Cases of
kava addiction and damaging physical side-effects that have been noted
from the Pacific all seem to be a consequence of the colonial disruption
of traditional society, allowing solitary, daily use of the drug, which
was never tolerated before.

I suspect that the Polynesian way of handling kava-kava might well make
Valium non-addictive: get the whole village together and have a party on
it.  If it's going to be a month before you try it again there's no way
you can develop dependence.  That is, recreational "abuse" in an informed
social context might well be a lot safer than therapeutic "use" in the
alienated isolation of a modern capitalist society.  (In my youth I used
methaqualone, with an even worse addiction hazard than Valium, in the
same way: a whole bunch of us got hold of a bottle and spent an evening
falling about on it.  Not one of the participants went on to develop
dependence to anything).

Followups to alt.folklore.herbs.

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