Kava has been used by the people of the Pacific islands for hundreds of years as a natural anti-anxiety treatment. It has a very calming effect and puts most people in a good mood. It has also been used as a diuretic and to treat urinary problems, arthritis, asthma and upset stomach. It is very popular in Germany and often prescribed as the first line of treatment for anxiety disorders.
This treatment involves a naturally occurring substance that is found in certain nuts and seeds. Amygdalin is found in apricot kernels, cherry pits, some apple seeds, and a special type of almond seed called “bitter almond.” (Regular almonds do not contain amygdalin.) The bitter almond was the best source for amygdalin, but the USDA ordered all bitter almond trees to be destroyed, supposedly because of a concern about cyanide poisoning. (Amygdalin contains cyanide.)
Another well know spice in the kitchen cinnamon is also known for it's medicinal properties. While not really an herb I still think it's important to list it in our list of herbs and their uses. Cinnamon actually comes from the inner bark of a tree in the laurel family. It's been used for centuries and was a hot commodity for trade in ancient times. In fact during the first century A.D. in Rome cinnamon was 15 times more expensive than silver. The Chinese were probably the first to use cinnamon as a medicinal herb and used it to treat fevers, and diarrhea. In more modern times cinnamon has been found to stabilize blood sugar levels in diabetics, as it has an insulin kind of effect.