Kava (Piper methysticum) originally came from the Pacific Islands. Kava is best known for its relaxing qualities. Kavalactones are the active chemical ingredients of the kava root. Research shows that they can Affect brain chemistry in ways similar to prescription antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications.
Several studies found that kava is useful in the treatment of anxiety, insomnia, and related nervous disorders. Kava Piper methysticum) is said to promote relaxation and relieve anxiety. Available in teas, tablets or tinctures, it is also promoted as a remedy for insomnia.
Avoid taking kava if you are also taking Xanax, as the herb may magnify the effects of Xanax. The University of Maryland Medical Center cautions against taking any dosage of kava kava without a doctor's supervision since some people have suffered liver damage due use of this remedy.
The FDA warns that people with liver disease or liver problems should consult their doctor before taking supplements containing kava.
There appear to be few other side effects, especially compared to other anti-anxiety medications. One study showed that daily doses of kava extract ranging from 120 to 240 mg significantly reduced participants’ anxiety without causing any damage to the liver. The most common side effect experience by the 75 study participants was headache.
Menopausal women may find kava to be an excellent option. It is known to help psychological status without affecting the therapeutic action of estrogen. A clinical study reported that kava encouraged a healthier, pleasant mood among menopausal women
While researchers at the University of Melbourne conducted a driving simulation experiment with 22 adults who were given a “small” serving of kava. Although no impairing effects were observed, researchers cautioned that “small” is relative and the conclusion was, by no means, conclusive; additional research is required before an all-out safety rating can be assessed. The best idea? Play it safe, if you’re going to enjoy kava, don’t drive!