The beauty of many of nature’s medicines lies in their ability to enhance our health and lives in a myriad of ways. In the case of kava kava, or Piper methysticum, the benefits of kava include important social and ceremonial dimensions as well as short- and long-term wellness benefits. Read on to discover the evidence-based benefits of kava.
“Don’t worry, be happy” could easily be cited as the catchphrase of kava, with its extremely well-documented calming effects.
What Kinds of Anxiety Can be Helped with Kava?
Anxiety can stem from several causes, ranging from patterns of thought to psychotic disorders. However, the most common kind of chronic anxiety is Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), which affects 3.1% of the American population.
Over the last 20 years, studies have been conducted that specifically measured the benefits of kava for GAD, and the findings have been overwhelmingly positive. Among the findings, researchers have discovered that:
- Piper methysticum exhibits an unequivocal anxiolytic effect in cases of generalized anxiety disorder.
- Kava is well-tolerated and as effective as Buspirone and Opipramol for the short-term treatment of Generalized Anxiety Disorder.
- Piper methysticum appears to be more effective in females and younger patients.
- Kava kava should be seen as a short-term (not long-term) treatment for anxiety.
2. Helps with Specific Kinds of Anxiety
While the benefits of kava have been most widely studied for anxiety in general, there are a few cases of specific anxiety that have been studied with the use of kava kava.
Surgery, in general, can tend to cause anxiety, but when the surgery is a biopsy that might confirm a cancer diagnosis, that anxiety is understandably high. In one study of 20 women who had just had a mammary biopsy, the women were given a herbal kava kava preparation called Kavosporal forte to see what effect it might have on their anxiety. After one week of the treatment, the women were observed as being more alert, less fatigued, less introverted, and less depressed. These benefits of kava were observed with no adverse side effects.
In contrast to general anxiety, phobias are described as “an exaggerated, usually inexplicable and illogical fear of a particular object, class of objects, or situation” (Merriam-Webster). These fears can be very debilitating and reduce the patient’s quality of life. In a case study published in 2001, a “37-year-old female outpatient with GAD, a simple phobia, and a specific social phobia” was given phytotherapy with kava kava. After four weeks, her symptoms had improved by 75% and had almost completely disappeared within six months of taking kava.
3. May Help with Sleep Issues
Worries keeping you up at night? The benefits of kava might be able to help. The available research indicates the following:
Kava Kava vs. Valerian
According to a 2001 study, 120mg of kava kava taken daily over a six-week time period appeared to be as useful for stress-induced insomnia as 600mg of valerian, with the symptoms of both stress and insomnia improving with use. Kava kava caused some dizziness in users, with valerian causing vivid dreams.
Safe and Effective
In a clinical trial conducted in 2004, a daily dose of 200mg of a special kava extract WS 1490 improved the quality of sleep and the general sense of well-being in patients suffering from non-psychotic anxiety, tension, and restlessness. There were no reported adverse events or changes in clinical parameters in this study.
4. Enhances Mood
It’s no secret that kava’s aroma is a mood enhancer — that’s probably a big reason why kava is used as part of ceremonies and parties in the Pacific! Now, the social and mood-boosting benefits of kava are being seen and measured by researchers as well.
Kava Promotes a Cheerful Mood and Cognitive Performance
A 2004 double-blind randomized placebo-controlled trial showed that kava can elevate the mood of generally cheerful people while improving the cognitive function related to attention and short-term memory. This is a significant finding, seeing as many anxiety-reducing drugs impair cognitive function rather than improve it.
5. Has Neuroprotective Properties
In addition to functioning as a nootropic, kava appears to protect brain function in two primary ways:
- The kavalactones methysticin, kavain, and yangonin protect against the amyloid beta-peptide induced neurotoxicity that is associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
- A kavalactone derivative known as 2′,6′-dichloro-5-methoxymethyl-5,6-dehydrokawain [(E)-6-(2′,6′-dichlorostyryl)-4-methoxy-5-(methoxymethyl)-2H-pyran-2-one] protects against neurodegeneration.
6. Additional Benefits of Kava Kava
Here are just a few more reasons to love kava kava:
- Kava contains compounds with antioxidant properties.
- Kava exhibits anti-inflammatory properties.
- Kava may help reduce the cravings associated with drug addiction.
- Kava use is associated with a lower incidence of cancer among Fijians.
- Kava contains compounds that induce cell death in bladder cancer cells and prostate cancer cells.
While kava offers a host of benefits, it can also carry risks to people with specific health problems and those who are taking certain medications. For your own health and safety, please consult with a knowledgeable healthcare professional about drug interactions and other contraindications before taking kava or any other supplement.
Ensure Quality Kava with Kratora
If you’d like to discover the benefits of kava and other calming ethnobotanicals for yourself, be sure to shop with a reliable vendor who sources ethical and sustainable kava and can provide a certificate of authenticity on request. The kava kava 30% powdered extract that we sell at Kratora is grown organically and packaged fresh, before being standardized to ensure a consistent kavalactone content.
Shop with us today to receive same-day shipping on orders submitted before 3 p.m. Eastern Time Monday through Friday and 1 p.m. Eastern Time on Saturdays (excluding holidays), and leave us a note at the checkout to receive up to three free ethnobotanical samples with your order!
Disclaimer: Please note that the US FDA has not approved kratom to be sold for human consumption, sold for external use only. The statements in this article have not been evaluated by the FDA. None of the products sold on our website are intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or medical condition.