Kava: a natural anxiolytic produced from the root of Piper methysticum.
It’s use goes back thousands of years in the south Pacific. A systematic review of studies found Kava could effectively mitigate anxiety to a greater extent than placebo, with few adverse effects. Kava doesn’t seem to have short-term tolerance issues greater than placebo, about 25% of placebo and kava users will want to increase their dose. At low therapeutic doses kava doesn’t seem to impair cognitive function and it may actually enhance some aspects of attention. Kava may also have beneficial effects on female sexual function, though this could be caused by reduced anxiety.
There have been reports of kava induced liver toxicity, which led the EU, UK and Canada to put restrictions on kava. However, a direct link between liver toxicity and kava use seems to be extremely rare. In most cases there were other probable contributing factors, such as use of other medications, high alcohol consumption and medical conditions. Caution should be used when taking kava. Make sure the preparation is from a company with a great reputation and derived from the root of the plant. Don’t use kava if you have any liver conditions, consume alcohol frequently or are taking other medications. The safety of long term kava use hasn’t been rigorously confirmed.