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Herbal brew ban puzzles actress.

Byline: John Aston

Actress Jenny Seagrove was left 'puzzled and bewildered' yesterday over a High Court judge's ruling on her challenge to a countrywide ban on an ancient herbal remedy.

She said the ban on kava-kava, which she uses to help her sleep, now means sleepless nights as she copes with the stress of appearing in The Secret Rapture at the Lyric Theatre in London's West End. The hotly-disputed ban was imposed following controversial reports linking kava-kava to people who had suffered liver damage.

The actress, most recently seen in BBC1's courtroom drama Judge John Deed, found the reality of yesterday's real-life High Court ruling so baffling that she confessed to being 'speechless'.

An accomplished stage performer whose recent credits include The Constant Wife and Brief Encounter, she admits that she finds starring in a big show a strain.

She said she was now finding it particularly difficult because she has not been able to turn to kava-kava, which has been used to make a traditional relaxing herbal drink in the Polynesian islands for centuries.

The 46-year-old said: 'I had a bottle left when it was banned which has now run out.

'Normally I would have been able to take kava and have a few nights' sleep but now I can't.

'I also give it to my dog, Kizzy, on Bonfire night because like 99 per cent of dogs in London she hates fireworks and kava works very nicely, thank you. What am I supposed to do, give her valium?

'I like kava-kava and I want to be able to take it, but it's also my freedom.

'I was hoping that we might roll back the duvet of the nanny state just a little today.'

Ms Seagrove joined forces with the National Association for Health Stores (NAHS) to fight the legality of Government decisions which have made it an offence to import or sell the natural herb product kava-kava since January 13.

Mr Justice Crane ruled that the consultation process in relation to kava-kava in medicines was 'procedurally flawed' but this did not justify ordering any fresh consultations.

Later Ms Seagrove said: 'All we want is fair and proper consultation with good science. I am speechless. I have run out of words in trying to describe my bewilderment as to why kava-kava was banned in the first place. They have not banned peanuts, but people die of peanuts. No one has died in this country from taking kava-kava.'

The case was adjourned until next February to give the Government a chance to take action.

The judge refused the NAHS and Ms Seagrove permission to appeal, but they are considering asking the Court of Appeal to hear their challenge.


Jenny Seagrove
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Dec 20, 2003
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