Thursday, September 24, 2020

Kava Benefits: Good for Anxiety?


Kava, The Herbal Remedy for Anxiety, GAD, tension and related Insomnia. It is the effective solution that has been studied greatly. This herb for Anxiety should be used properly and in accurate dosage with following the guidelines for getting its all benefits with full safety.

Clinical Research Studies Based Effects Of Kava

Piper methysticum’s Topical Application:

  • The liquid preparation is a good analgesic for Toothache and Canker Sore. This effect is partly due to its local anesthetizing or numbing effect on the mucus membrane of mouth. Its bitter and pungent taste and availability of better products for such effects stopped this kind of use.
  • Being a Rubefacient, it relieves Joints pain on massaging over the affected joint.

Piper methysticum As Analgesic In Chronic Pain:

Due to its mild analgesic, tonic and muscle relaxing (Spasmolytic) power, it is used in Chronic pains associated with tense muscles. It is better in Rheumatic pains with Menyanthes, Cimicifuga and Apium.

Piper methysticum As Anaphrodisiac:

Various studies and its use prove it to be an anaphrodisiac i.e. substance reducing sexual desire. Perhaps due to mild euphoria, that it produces, some of the young persons considered it to be aphrodisiac.

Piper methysticum In Urinary Disorders:

Urinary infections particularly Cystitis, Urethritis and Gonorrhea are relieved by its diuretic, spasmolytic and antiseptic properties. The  pain of Cystitis is reduced. It provides greater relief in Bladder disorders with Apium, Althaea root and Agropyron.

Piper methysticum Affecting Our Feelings:

The type of preparation ( Drink, Aqueous or Lipid soluble parts, Extracts etc.) and the percentage of Kavalactones in the product affects the onset of effects. Mostly these effects are produced in one or two hours.

  • Mental relaxation without being sedated or drowsy.
  • Peacefulness and satisfaction.
  • Increased mental alertness at normal dosage; Higher dosage can cause Stupor.
  • Relaxation of muscles physically.
  • Euphoria or slight feeling of well being.
  • The mental alertness lasts for a few hours and after that some drowsiness is produced so setting the time of evening dosage can help in Insomnia as well.
  • The person feels to talk or express particularly in favorable and conducive company.

Piper methysticum In Anxiety & Stress:

It produces the tranquil state and relaxes the muscles. Plus it doesn’t cause drowsiness and doesn’t hinder in operating machinery requiring some motor control under normal dosage. It is sedative to mental restlessness while maintaining mental alertness.

Research studies show Piper methysticum to be comparable with Benzodiazepine tranquilizers. It is found to be a great phyto-anxiolytic that can be used for Nervous Anxiety, Tension and agitation related conditions. It is well tolerated and devoid of soporific ( sleepiness or drowsiness inducing) effect and risk of dependence.

Another study report supports Piper methysticum as a substitute for Tricyclic antidepressants and Benzodiazepines in Anxiety Disorders and without their side effects.

Psychotropic Effects Of Piper methysticum:

Investigating the in-vitro effects of Kavalactones in comparison with amitriptyline, imipramine and brofaromine on Human platelet Mao-B cells showed the psychotropic effects. All the six main Kavalactones have different potencies in this regard.

Analgesic, Anti-Convulsant & Centrally Muscle Relaxing Effects Of P. methysticum:

Four kavalactones of this plant are found to have anesthetic and analgesic effects. Besides, it has some anti-convulsant activity. It can also potentiate the effects of some other medicine like Barbiturates and Benzodiazepines.

P. methysticum & Our Sleep:

Sleep disturbance of Non Psychotic anxiety or Generalized Anxiety Disorder responds to Kavalactones very well.

Aqueous & Lipid Soluble Extracts Of Kava

Aqueous Extract Lipid Soluble Extract
It causes loss of spontaneous activity without loss of muscle tone. It reduced loss of spontaneous activity with loss of motor control i.e. diminished muscle tone.
No hypnotic effect. Hypnotic effect is present.
Some analgesic effect. Marked analgesic effect.
Very little anti-convulsant action. Little anti-convulsant action.
No local anesthetic action. Some local anesthetic action.
The pharmacologic effects are limited. The pharmacologic effects are greater.

Cautions To Be Observed While Using Kava:

  • Consulting your doctor and getting your ailment diagnosed is the best approach.
  • Don’t use it with other medications like tranquilizers, sleeping pills or sedatives and alcohol.
  • Start it with the low dosage i.e. one normal dosage in the evening. (Once Daily)
  • After one week, if your anxiety is not controlled, add another normal dosage in the morning. (Twice a Day)
  • Again after one week, in case of anxiety not controlled, add one more normal dosage in the noon time. (Thrice a Day)
  • If symptoms don’t respond adequately with thrice a day dosage, consult your doctor again.
  • Contact the manufacturer if the percentage of kavalactones or the amount of kavalactones in one dosage is not written clearly.
  • Don’t drive a vehicle after a heavy dosage of Piper methysticum and especially when you have taken it with alcohol or other medication.
  • Stop the use immediately if you develop some allergy, itching, jaundice or some other undesirable effect and contact the doctor.

Use Kava For:

  1. As anxiolytic, tranquilizer or calming agent; in anxiety, nervous restlessness.
  2. In tension and stress.
  3. In agitated state.
  4. Weakness or fatigue with anxiety.
  5. Chronic pain with tense muscles.
  6. Read Kava related pages on Holistic-Herbalist for dosage, safety and side effects.
  7. Take one capsule or 300 mg during acute condition or once every two day. Prefer to take other anxiolytic herbs like passionflower for long term and continuous use. Alternatively you can take drops – 1.6 ml or 2 dropperfuls instead of capsule. Never exceed dosage more than twice a day for drops or capsules.

Traditional Uses Of Kava

Kava or Piper methysticum has a history of 3000 years for its traditional use. It is supposed to have and is used by the native person in the following conditions.

Piper methysticum has such unique effects on our mind and feelings as compared to herbs in this category. Find its various benefits and uses for worry free mind, peaceful sleep and lesser pain.

Effects Of Kava Over The Mind:

Kava has the capacity to soothe our mind and nerves. Over stressed mind is put to rest. It has the unique capacity to calm down the agitated mind and still it does not make us drowsy or feel sleepy.

Rather we feel more energy. Our fatigue is gone. ‘The mental blue’ is dispelled and tranquil state of mind is produced. Body is kept in rest, energy level goes up, mind remains alert.

Remember! the narcotic effect of this botanical occurs with excessive dosage. Don’t overdo it. It can lead to Stupor…

Kava & Our Feelings:

This botanical is able to affect how we feel very strongly. Our mental restlessness is put to rest. Mind becomes calm and relaxed. The best thing is that we are mentally alert. Where do we find such herb that can rest the anxiety and make us more keen and alert?

There is a general sense of well being and the person feels to be more talkative or likes to share. The original people used its drink that has low concentration. And they used to share their drink at the evening gatherings and share their worries with Kava drink and with each other.

In various research studies it is found to be comparable with modern drugs for relieving tension, anxiety and stress.

Kava Promoting Sleep Of Insomniacs:

Persons who are suffering occasionally from insomnia and that lack of sleep is due to their being excessively worried or stressed can greatly benefit form this herb. It can be a good and occasional sleeping aid!

Kava For Relieving Pains:

Mild pains are relieved by this botanical. It can affect our mind to more restful state, and can put our muscles to rest. Chronic pains, where there is spasm of muscles like in joints pain, do respond well.

Kava Used Locally Over The Surface:

People use this botanical in various preparations that are used to be rubbed and massaged in joints pain, muscular strains.

Many times it is used in preparations to be used for mouth disorders. It can relieve the pain and numbs the mucus membrane so that one becomes less sensitive to pain as well.

Kava & Sexual Desire:

The original people who are traditionally using it claim it to exert aphrodisiac effect. However it is not supported by studies. Perhaps they regard it as an aphrodisiac due to some milk euphoria or general feeling of well being and lesser inhibitions that is experienced initially with its use.

Other Actions Of Kava As Mentioned By Traditional Users:

  • As a Urinary antiseptic; Useful in infections like Cystitis, Urethritis, Gonorrhea.
  • Good for Obesity.
  • Asthma is relieved.
  • Rheumatism esp. Gout is relieved due to its analgesic and diuretic properties.
  • Migraine headaches.
  • Muscle cramps.
  • Syphilis, Gonorrhea, Venereal diseases.
  • Carminative effect in normal dosage reduces stomach pain.
  • Boils.
  • Menstrual problems.
  • Tuberculosis.
  • Leprosy.
  • As an Aphrodisiac.
  • Abortion was said to be induced by putting it in vagina.

Anti-anxiety herb Kava Plant

Anti anxiety herb Kava – reputed for reducing stress, relaxing body and mind without losing alertness. This psychoactive herb is a good herbal remedy for tension, stress, anxiety, restlessness.

English Name:

Kava or P. methysticum is the herb for mind and mood disorders. Find the dosage, names, biochemical constituents and info about medicinal use.

Latin Name:

Piper methysticum (Forst.f.)


Piperaceae, it belongs to the black pepper family.

Other Names:

Kawa-Kawa; Methysticum, Intoxicating pepper, Ava, Ava pepper, Awa, Kava pepper, Kawa, kawa kawa, Kew, Rauschpfeffer, Sakau, Tonga, Wurzelstock, Yangona etc.

Medicinal Parts Of Piper methysticum:

  • The Rootstocks are used both fresh and dried.
  • The leaves and stem peelings are not used, and if contaminated with root, cause serious Liver problems.


When should one take Kava and at which time?

  • Natives use it at the end of day, when rituals or ceremonies begin.
  • If you are taking it once a day, it is better to take it during evening or some time before going to bed. You have to work out your most suitable time before bedtime. It can vary depending upon the preparation you are using.
  • And practically one can take it Anytime of the day. When taken in two or three times a day, it is taken in the morning and noon time as well.

What dosage should be taken?

  • Its exact dosage  should be taken after considering the percentage of Kavalactones in the preparation that you are taking.
  • The standard dosage used in most clinical studies suggest to take these pyrones 70 – 210 mg per day. Take 70 mg Kavalactone in the evening and if it doesn’t relieve anxiety, take another 70 mg Kavalactone dose in the morning. In the same way, after one week you can add the third 70 mg dose in a single day.
  • Most of the pill or capsule contain its extract with Kavalactones ranging from 30 – 70%. The 100 mg of 30% extract is equal to 30 mg of Kavalactone. The 100 mg of 50% extract contains 50 mg of Kavalactones. So use this % information from the label or suggestion slip with your product.
  • The crude powder used by native contains low concentration of Kavalactones than most commercial preparations.
  • The aqueous extract is very mild in concentration of Kavalactones than Alcoholic or other organic compound extracts.

Should P. methysticum be taken daily or with breaks?

  • The best way to take it is to use it 4 days a week. And to discontinue it for one week in a month.
  • Don’t take it for more than 4-6 months or 25-30 weeks.

In what conditions should one take it occasionally?

Whenever you feel that you need relaxation, whenever you feel more stressed you can take it occasionally. It won’t cause any ill effects. e.g. facing an interview, taking examination, great hours of work etc.

When do I need to consult the herbalist before taking Kava?

  • If you don’t find your anxiety reduced after coming to 70 mg Kavalactones three times a day dose, you should visit a doctor and follow his advice.

Relative Contraindications:

Seek the help of a herbalist or health practitioner before using it if you have any of these –

  • Liver ailments
  • Using alcohol
  • are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • using it excessively
  • having jaundice, abdominal problems after using P. methysticum
  • Using with other medicine
  • Teenagers shouldn’t use it.

Different Forms In Which Kava Is Used:

  • Used by Native folks – fresh herb root is grated and made into a non fermented beverage with water, coconut water, olive oil or some other edible oil.
  • Kava ball – dried powder kept in a clothe and used for making infusion.
  • The dried powder is brownish in color.
  •  Fresh freeze dried P. methysticum prepared from Whole Lateral root is best for use. It contains Active Co-factors like Minor Kavalactones, Flavokavins.
  • It should be used from a specific Chemotype of Vanuatu which is the original ancestral place of Kava.
  • Extract of P. methysticum is second to Fresh freeze dried product in quality.
  • The Stem or Leaf or Peeled bark should never be contaminated as it has harmful substance for Liver particularly.

Bio-Chemical Constituents:

The root of P. methysticum contains the active principle –  Pyrones or Kavalactones. Some kavalactones are kawain, methysticin, and yangonin. “Waka” grade P. methysticum contains the highest concentration of kavalactones. Despite contrary claims, there are not any psychoactive alkaloids in P. methysticum.

The aqueous extract is different from fat soluble extract. The Fat soluble extract contains the more concentration of active substances.

Most of the preparations contain a resin that has related six resinous alpha Pyrones – Yangonin, desmoethyl-oxy-yangonin, kawain, dihydro-kawain, methysticin and dihydromethysticin, together with two glycosides, mucilage and sugar.     

The Ayurvedic Properties Of Piper methysticum:

 It is not described in Ayurveda. Still after studying the plant the following properties are found.

  • Qualities – Fast, Acute
  • Taste – Pungent, Bitter

The Compound Herbal Formulations Of Kava:

Several other herbs that are slightly less fast acting in short term but over the period of days, they are a good substitute of P. methysticum. In addition to substitution, its good effects can be maintained and by adding other herbs, the other undesirable effects can be neutralized. The Herbal drugs are – Ashwagandha, Valerian, Hops, Passionflower etc.

Some nutrients like 5-HTP, Tryptophan, Zinc, Magnesium and Vitamin B complex can be good additive to deal with Anxiety with Herbs for Anxiety.

As a native Indian and an Ayurvedic holistic healer, Arjun writes in the lane of herbal healing and home remedies. Certification: BAMS (Bachelor of Ayurvedic Medicine & Surgery With Modern Medicine).


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