May 12, 2009

Kava reduces anxiety and improves mood

A clinical trial found a water-soluble extract of Kava was effective in treating anxiety and improving mood, researchers in Australia said.

Lead researcher Jerome Sarris, a doctoral candidate at the University of Queensland, said the placebo-controlled study found Kava to be an effective and safe treatment option for people with chronic anxiety and varying levels of depression.

Each week participants were given a clinical assessment as well as a self-rating questionnaire to measure their anxiety and depression levels, the researchers said.

The trial, published in the journal Psychopharmacology, found anxiety levels decreased dramatically for participants taking five tablets of Kava per day as opposed to the group that took placebos.

In 2002, Kava was banned in Europe, Britain and Canada due to concerns over liver toxicity, Sarris said.

The three-week trial raised no major health concerns regarding the Kava extract used, but larger studies are required to confirm the drug's safety, the researchers said.

Ethanol and acetone extracts, which sometimes use the incorrect parts of the Kava, were being sold in Europe. That is not the traditional way of prescribing Kava in the Pacific Islands, Sarris said in a statement.

Our study used a water-soluble extract from the peeled rootstock of a medicinal cultivar of the plant, which is approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration of Australia and is currently legal in Australia for medicinal use.