Kava
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Kava Usage

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Usages

Effect of Kava on Depression

The active ingredients, kavalactones, are said to have sedating and relaxing effects that do not compromise mental clarity. The availability of kava in a supplement form for the treatment of anxiety...

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Effect of Kava on Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Up until 2002, the herb kava was widely used in Europe as a medical treatment for anxiety, based on the evidence of a substantial body of double-blind, placebo-controlled studies. However, because of...

Read more about Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Kava.

Effect of Kava on Panic Disorder

Up until 2002, the herb kava was widely used in Europe as a medical treatment for anxiety, based on the evidence of a substantial body of double-blind, placebo-controlled studies. However, because of...

Read more about Panic Disorder and Kava.

What Is Kava Used for Today?

In 1990, Germany's Commission E authorized the use of kava for relieving "states of nervous anxiety, tension, and agitation," based on evidence from several double-blind studies . 1 However, case reports of liver damage later led Germany and other countries to ban the sale of kava. See Safety Issues below.

Like other anxiety-reducing drugs, kava could be useful for insomnia , but most of the supporting evidence for this use remains highly preliminary. 2 One small, double-blind study found that daily use of kava reduced sleep disturbances linked to anxiety . 3 However, a larger study failed to find benefits in people with both insomnia and anxiety. 4 One animal study suggests that kava may also have value as an aid to alcohol withdrawal . 5 (However, individuals who abuse alcohol are probably at increased risk of harm from kava. See Safety Issues .) Kava has been additionally proposed as a treatment for tension headaches , but it has not been evaluated for this purpose.

References

  1. Volz HP, Kieser M. Kava-kava extract WS 1490 versus placebo in anxiety disorders--a randomized placebo-controlled 25-week outpatient trial. Pharmacopsychiatry. 30(1):1-5.
  2. Emser W, Bartylla K. Improvement in sleep quality. Effect of kava extract WS 1490 on the sleep pattern in healthy subjects [in German, English abstract]. Neurol Psychiatr. 1991;5:636-642.
  3. Lehrl S. Clinical efficacy of kava extract WS 1490 in sleep disturbances associated with anxiety disorders. Results of a multicenter, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind clinical trial. J Affect Disord. 78(2):101-10.
  4. Jacobs BP, Bent S, Tice JA, Blackwell T, Cummings SR. An internet-based randomized, placebo-controlled trial of kava and valerian for anxiety and insomnia. Medicine (Baltimore). 84(4):197-207.
  5. Veh I, Chatterjee SS, Kiianmaa K, et al. Reduction of voluntary ethanol intake in alcohol-preferring AA-rats by kava extract. Presented at International Congress and 49th Meeting of the Society for Medicinal Plant Research; September 2-6, 2001; Erlangen, Germany.
 
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