Kava For Depression And Anxiety – Safe Or Not?
Botanically referred to as Piper Methysticum, kava is a native plant from the South Pacific which belongs to the pepper family. In fact, this has been a chief part of that region’s political, religious and cultural life. Kava is a plant that has been related to black pepper. Its roots, Waka, has high medicinal value that is used in preparing kava kava, a narcotic drink. Simply called kava, this is a social drink on the South Pacific region. More importantly, these days, kava is also used in treating depression and anxiety.
Kava is known for its tranquilizing as well as painkilling properties. This is used for folk medicine to treat different health problems. For patients that are suffering from stress, restlessness and other symptoms of anxiety, then kava can greatly help. It has also been observed to treat mental illnesses such as ADHD or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, psychosis, epilepsy, migraines and headaches. It has also been used to treat respiratory illnesses such as the common cold, tuberculosis, even cancer.
In May 14, 2009, an extract of the plant kava was used in the treatment of anxiety. There were some concerns regarding the long-term safety of kava formulations.
More than a decade ago, kava supplements were the most popular alternative for the treatment of depression and anxiety. The downside was that there were reports of liver failure and liver damage which resulted in kava supplements being banned in Canada, France, Germany and the U.K.
The supplement was not banned in the U.S. but a lot of consumers stopped using the product as the FDA issued a warning regarding probable liver-related injury back in March 2002.
In 2007, the WHO reported that liver toxicity may have been limited to whole kava plant formulations instead of simply using the root. Ethanol and acetone have also been seen as probable factors that brought about the liver problems (these were used in extracting the active ingredient from the kava plant).
On the upside, 37 people who suffered from generalized anxiety and depression were able to complete the three week long trial. The group did not know that they were taking both placebo and the kava supplement. The results were on the positive which further proved what the South Pacific people already knew – that kava is really effective in treating depression and anxiety. Kava can be taken in either capsule or extract form.
Kava, drank in its traditional form has been proven in recent studies to be absolutely safe. Researchers concluded that there were most likely errors in the previous 2009 study which failed to separate people who were heavy alcohol drinkers. Kava is an excellent supplement and has even shown to exhibit anti-cancerous properties in the lab.