World first clinical trial supports use of Kava to treat anxiety




A world-first completed clinical study by an Australian team has found Kava, a medicinal South Pacific plant, significantly reduced the symptoms of people suffering anxiety.
The study, led by the University of Melbourne and published in the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology, revealed Kava could be an alternative treatment to pharmaceutical products for the hundreds of thousands of Australians who suffer from Generalised Anxiety Disorders (GAD)
Lead researcher, Dr Jerome Sarris from Department of Psychiatry at the University of Melbourne, said GAD is a complex condition that significantly affected people’s day-today lives. Existing medications have a modest clinical effect and new effective options were needed for patients with anxiety.

 “Based on previous work we have recognised that plant based medicines may be a viable treatment for patients with chronic anxiety.  In this study we've been able to show that Kava offers a potential natural alternative for the treatment of chronic clinical anxiety. Unlike some other options it has less risk of dependency and less potential for side effects,” he said.
The study also found that people’s genetic differences (polymorphisms) of certain neurobiological mechanisms called GABA transporters, may modify their response to Kava.
“If this finding is replicated, it may pave the way for simple genetic tests to determine which people may be likely to have a beneficial anxiety-reducing effect from taking Kava,” Dr Sarris said.
During the eight-week study, 75 patients with clinically diagnosed Generalised Anxiety Disorder were given Kava or placebo, and anxiety levels were regularly assessed.
Results showed a significant reduction in anxiety for the Kava group compared to the placebo group at the end of the study.

Kava may reduce anxiety but experts urge caution

Kava, traditionally used in some Pacific island customs, may have a moderate effect in reducing anxiety symptoms, the study found. AAP Image/Peter Williams

A new study has found that kava, a plant-based relaxant used in the Pacific, is moderately effective at reducing anxiety symptoms in people with diagnosed Generalised Anxiety Disorder.

However, while the authors of the study say their finding builds upon previous studies showing kava was effective in reducing short-term anxiety, experts have called for a cautious interpretation of the new study’s findings. Ingesting kava, made from the root of the pepper plant Piper methysticum, can cause reactions ranging from relaxation and euphoria to loss of muscle control if used in larger amounts. The new study, published in the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology, involved a group of 75 people diagnosed with Generalised Anxiety Disorder.

The researchers excluded from the study people with co-occurring depression, a record of substance abuse, regular kava users, people with psychotic or bipolar disorder illnesses, or those currently on other medicines commonly prescribed to treat mental illness.Over the course of the six week study, half the group were given kava and half took a placebo. Due to further exclusions and drop-outs, results from 58 people were analysed.A questionnaire called the Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale was used to assess their level of anxiety as the trial progressed.At the conclusion of the trial, the researchers found that 37% of the kava group reported reduced anxiety symptoms compared with 23% of the placebo group.

Remedies for Anxiety That Don’t Involve Medication

Medication can make a big difference for people who wake up every day to a racing heart and a sense of dread. This treatment approach isn’t for everyone, though. Medication doesn’t always work, and some people suffer side effects such as drowsiness and difficulty concentrating. For people who have heard that anti-anxiety medication can sometimes be dangerous, taking medication might even make anxiety worse. If you’re already taking medication, talk to your doctor before making any changes. If you’re interested in natural methods for treating anxiety, you might be surprised to learn that some treatments can work as well as medication.

Find the Right Therapist

Therapy is one of the most effective ways to treat anxiety without taking medication. Through therapy, you’ll examine the sources of your anxiety and develop coping skills that can help you manage anxiety attacks. Some people even find that therapy causes their anxiety to vanish completely. If you need help finding a therapist who specializes in anxiety, check out GoodTherapy.org’s therapist search tool.

Exercise

Exercise remains one of the best things you can do for your health, and it can also help treat your anxiety. Immediately after exercise, you’ll get an endorphin rush that can help you feel happy and elated rather than anxious and overwhelmed. Over time, exercise can also ease an anxious mind. Try exercising in the morning or afternoon, or at least several hours before sleep. Doing so can help you sleep better, since exercise also has insomnia-busting benefits.

Consider Trying Supplements

Research on the benefits of supplements for treating anxiety is mixed, but some people have excellent luck with vitamins and minerals. Magnesium may help reduce anxiety, and some anxious people swear by herbs like rhodiola or kava. If you’re concerned about your diet but worried about trying an herbal supplement, consider a multivitamin, which can help ensure you get the basic vitamins and minerals you need to keep your brain functioning well.

Clinical study reveals that Kava could be an alternative treatment for Anxiety

A world-first completed clinical study by an Australian team has found Kava, a medicinal South Pacific plant, significantly reduced the symptoms of people suffering anxiety.
The study, led by the University of Melbourne and published in the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology, revealed Kava could be an alternative treatment to pharmaceutical products for the hundreds of thousands of Australians who suffer from Generalised Anxiety Disorders (GAD).

Lead researcher, Dr Jerome Sarris from the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Melbourne, said GAD is a complex condition that significantly affected people's day-today lives. Existing medications have a modest clinical effect and new effective options were needed for patients with anxiety.

"Based on previous work we have recognised that plant based medicines may be a viable treatment for patients with chronic anxiety. In this study we've been able to show that Kava offers a potential natural alternative for the treatment of chronic clinical anxiety. Unlike some other options it has less risk of dependency and less potential for side effects," he said.
The study also found that people's genetic differences (polymorphisms) of certain neurobiological mechanisms called GABA transporters, may modify their response to Kava.

"If this finding is replicated, it may pave the way for simple genetic tests to determine which people may be likely to have a beneficial anxiety-reducing effect from taking Kava," Dr Sarris said.
During the eight-week study, 75 patients with clinically diagnosed Generalised AnxietyDisorder were given Kava or placebo, and anxiety levels were regularly assessed.
Results showed a significant reduction in anxiety for the Kava group compared to the placebo group at the end of the study.

Kava plant 'works for anxiety'

THE South Pacific kava plant could be an effective and safe treatment for anxiety, according to research by Australian scientists.
Anxiety, or excessive worrying, is the most common psychological problem in Australia and affects 14 per cent of the population, according to the Bureau of Statistics.
“We've been able to show kava offers a potential natural alternative for the treatment of chronic clinical anxiety,” says lead researcher Jerome Sarris from the University of Melbourne’s Department of Psychiatry. “Compared with some other options, it has less risk of dependency and less potential for side effects.”
The research is encouraging, but needs a further large multicentre clinical trial to confirm kava as a first-line treatment for generalised anxiety disorders, he says.
An unexpected outcome is that women in Dr Sarris's trial reported increased sex drive. However, this is believed to be from a reduction of anxiety rather than any aphrodisiac effect.