Traditional Pacific Island medicine, kava kava, found to alleviate anxiety

Kava kava is a traditional medicine widely used in the Pacific, especially for anxiety relief. In a literature review, scientists from Grand Valley State University in Michigan supported this claim, noting the plant’s safety and efficacy in improving symptoms of anxiety, if used for less than eight weeks.

A lot of people suffer from anxiety. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that one in 14 people around the world has an anxiety disorder, making it one of the most common mental disorders. In particular, specific phobia, major depressive disorder, and social phobia are the most common anxiety disorders. In the U.S., anxiety disorders are among the most common mental illnesses, affecting 40 million adults each year.

To assess whether kava kava can be safely used to treat anxiety symptoms, the researchers gathered clinical trials on the plant and its effects on anxiety. A total of 11 articles that met the inclusion criteria: Two trials compared kava kava and other anti-anxiety medication, while two studies looked at detailed adverse events. Finally, seven assessed the effects kava kava against a placebo.

Based on their data, the researchers found that kava kava lowered the severity of anxiety symptoms and appeared to be more effective in females and younger populations. They also found that taking kava kava for short periods (around two months or less) will result in liver damage. However, any longer could be toxic to the organ. So, the researchers suggested a long-term trial to determine the safety of long-term kava kava use.

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With these findings, the researchers concluded that kava kava can be used for short-term anxiety relief.

More on kava kava

Kava kava, scientifically known as Piper methysticum, is native to the islands of the Pacific Ocean. Its roots are traditionally made into a paste, then mixed with water or coconut milk to create a beverage. It can also be made into powder or tables. Locals, in particular, use the kava kava drink for cultural and religious ceremonies.

Kava kava has a relaxing, euphoric effect, which is why many use it to reduce stress and anxiety. In addition, there is evidence supporting the use of kava kava to promote sleep. For this reason, people use it as a treatment for sleep disorders. Research suggests that the optimum dose could be under 250 milligrams of kava kava per day. (Related: Kava Kava has Many Health Benefits and Uses.)

Other natural medicines for anxiety relief

Anxiety disorders are highly treatable, and there are many herbal plants available for treating mental illness. Here are just some of them:

  • Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora): For people experiencing anxiety together with restlessness, muscle tension, and jaw clenching, skullcap is a great anxiety remedy. Skullcap effectively relieves anxiety, muscle tension, and restlessness all at the same time. This herbal medicine can be taken in tea or tincture form.
  • Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata): Passionflower is the herbal anxiety remedy for people who suffer from anxiety, and are burned out and exhausted at the same time. It is best taken in tea and tincture form.
  • Valerian root (Valeriana officinalis): Although valerian root is widely used for sleep disorders like insomnia, it can be used for anxiety relief. It has long been used as a natural anxiety remedy during the Greek and Roman times. It is mostly taken in pill form.
  • Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera): This adaptogenic herb has long been used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat anxiety, aging, and low energy. In addition, Ashwagandha helps induce relaxation and sleep.

Read more news stories and studies on natural medicines for anxiety by going to

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