coupleAlong with candy, flowers and a sentimental card, you might think about adding kava to the romantic mix this Valentine's Day. According to folklore, kava has a long-standing reputation as an aphrodisiac.

"Kava has historically been given to couples on their wedding night in cultures of the Pacific islands," says Mark Blumenthal, executive director of the American Botanical Council. "That may be because kava helps the body relax, reduces nervousness and gets you to a much more sensual place."

But unlike some sexuality-boosting herbs, kava's amorous effects are less pronounced. "Kava is not a true sexual aphrodisiac," says Ray Sahelian, MD, author of Kava: The Miracle Antianxiety Herb (St. Martin's Press). "It's not going to specifically heighten sex drive. Kava is more of an intimacy aphrodisiac. The herb's relaxation properties help release inhibitions, especially in tense individuals."

Of course, that hasn't stopped marketers from positioning kava as a miracle sex remedy. While such elixirs may enhance romance, a standard dose of kava in a pill or tincture form taken about 30 minutes before a romantic tryst will do the trick just as well, advises Sahelian.

? Jan Sheehan