Kava kava root has been used for many years for relaxation and sometimes as a sleep aid. Many people find kava kava to be effective in relieving stress and anxiety, but some questions have been raised concerning its potential side effects associated with its use.
A systematic review of 7 studies comparing kava kava extract to a placebo for treating anxiety found that every single study showed an improvement in the group using kava kava extract over the group taking a placebo. A meta-analysis was performed on 3 of the studies with similar results, showing a significant improvement with kava kava use as compared to the placebo supplement. While some showed some reported side effects, they were not serious and generally uncommon.
While there were some reports of mild side effects, it is certainly significant that every single one of the 7 studies reviewed showed that kava kava was superior to the placebo for treating anxiety. From this evidence we can conclude that at a regular therapeutic dosage, kava kave root is a safe and effective treatment for anxiety, although some people may experience side effects that can easily be corrected by simply discontinuing the supplement.
Pittler MH, & Ernst E. (2002). Kava extract for treating anxiety. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (Online). (2), CD003383.
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