|The Soothing Power of Kava: A Root for Anxiety Disorder
If you are one of the more than 19 million adults in this country who suffer
from an anxiety disorder, you may be familiar with the commonly
prescribed benzodiazepine drugs. While these are effective and fast
acting, you may also be familiar with their undesired side effects, primarily,
their tendency to cause severe drowsiness and to lead to dependency.
Fortunately, researchers are examining the herb kava, or kava kava as it is
popularly known, as an alternative treatment.
The Polynesians of the South Pacific have used kava for more than 3,000
years. They discovered that a concoction made from the root of the kava plant
could help calm a person without reducing mental sharpness. The results of
several clinical studies have now backed up the Polynesians' practices. Kava has
been shown to significantly reduce anxiety as effectively as some common
benzodiazepine-type drugs, but without the side effects. In fact, any side
effects of using kava seem slight, although they have not been thoroughly
researched yet (so far experts have determined that chronic abuse of kava can
lead to liver damage and yellowing of the skin).
So consider taking kava as an alternative treatment if you suffer from an
anxiety disorder. If you are currently taking a prescription, talk to your
doctor about kava as an alternative. A standardized capsule of kava containing
60 mg to 120 mg of kavalactones is the recommended dosage. It may take a
month before you notice a change in your condition. If you do not see results
after three months, seek further medical advice.
Note: Low doses of kava can help you stay aware and active but not tense; at
higher dosages, however, you may become sleepy. Since kava is known to depress
the nervous system, until it is better researched, do not take it with alcohol
or other depressants.
Anxiety disorder: Acute feelings of fear, uneasiness, or distress for
no apparent reason. Panic attacks or various phobias, such as a fear of heights,
may characterize an anxiety disorder.
Benzodiazepine: Family of drugs commonly used to treat anxiety.
Kavalactones: The active ingredient in kava. The amount of
kavalactones per kava capsule may vary from one manufacturer to another, so look
at the label to make sure the percent of kavalactones in one dose is equal to 60
to 120 mg kavalactones. For example, a 100 mg capsule of kava containing 70%
kavalactones has 70 mg of kavalactones.
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and Terrence McNally (Prima Publishing, 1998)
Kava: The Miracle Antianxiety Herb by Ray Sahelian (St Martins Press,
All About Kava (Frequently Asked Questions) by Earl Mindell (Avery
Publishing Group, 1999)
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|Review Date: December 1999|
|Reviewed By: Integrative Medicine editorial|
Copyright © 2004 A.D.A.M., Inc
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