Mental Health

Kava and Anxiety Treatment

by Staff

Kava is an ancient plant of the western Pacific and can be found on the Pacific islands. Other names for kava include ʻawa (Hawaii), ‘ava (Samoa), yaqona (Fiji), and sakau (Pohnpei). The Latin name for kava-kava is Piper methysticum, with Piper meaning “pepper” in Latin and methysticum meaning “intoxicating” in Greek. The word kava can be used to refer to the plant and also the drink and powders derrived from it.

Kava is a legal intoxicant in many places, and it can cause a DUI if taken before driving. Kava extract is marketed as a stress reliever to diminish the symptoms of insomnia and anxiety.

Kava can be taken in a traditional drink form or in a modernized pill form.

Kava and Anxiety

The active ingredients in kava are kavalactones, which are psychoactive chemicals. At least 15 different kavalactones have been identified, but only 6 of them produce noticeable psychoactive effects.

The effects produced by kava include muldly talkative and social behavior, calming effects, relaxed muscles, a feeling of euphoria, and drowsiness. Kava also has anasthetic properties. These effects are common among all depressant substances like alcohol and perscription sedatives like Valium. Thus, it’s easy to see why kava may be taken by some to ease the symptoms of anxiety and insomnia.

Kava Safety Concerns

Heavy use of kava can cause skin rashes.

In the year 2001 concerns were raised about the safety of commercial kava products. There have been allegations that commercially produces kava products can cause liver damage, especially kava available in pill form. This may be because of the inclusion of parts of the plant other then the root, such as the stems and leaves, which can be toxic.

It is advised that you do not use any products containing any kava because of a lack of regulation of these products.


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