Kava Kava

Herbal Supplements

Peer Reviewed

Kava kava, also known as kava root or simply kava, is used to treat stress-related disorders, anxiety, insomnia, pain, stiffness, and infections affecting the reproductive and urinary system organs. Kava has antiseptic properties.
Kava KavaKavapyrones, a key chemical component in kava, is believed to impact the brain much the same way as certain pharmaceutical drugs. Kavalactone, another active chemical in kava, can numb the mouth, gums, and/or tongue.

Sources of Kava Kava
Kava kava is available in the following forms: liquids, extracts, tinctures, tablets, capsules, powdered, or crushed. For maximum benefit, purchase standardized products (70% kavalactone).

Guidelines and Cautions
Always follow package directions.

  • Potential side effects of kava kava include: drowsiness, dizziness, headache, nausea, and/or skin rash.
  • Do not drive while taking kava.
  • Women who are pregnant or nursing should not use kava.
  • Kava kava is not recommended for anyone under age 18.
  • Do not combine kava with alcohol. Kava may intensify the effects.
  • Kava should not be taken with certain medications, such as anti-anxiety drugs, antidepressants and antipsychotic drugs.
  • People, who suffer from depression, or those with liver or skin diseases, should avoid kava.

When taken in large amounts for extended periods, kava may worsen liver function tests.

Disclaimer: Many people report feeling improvement in their condition and/or general well-being taking dietary, vitamin, mineral, and/or herbal supplements. The Editorial Board of SpineUniverse.com, however, cannot endorse such products since most lack peer-reviewed scientific validation of their claims. In most cases an appropriate diet and a "multiple vitamin" will provide the necessary dietary supplements for most individuals. Prior to taking additional dietary, vitamin, mineral, and/or herbal supplements it is recommended that patients consult with their personal physician to discuss their specific supplement requirements.

Updated on: 01/22/19
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Mark R. McLaughlin, MD
While I have had some patients that describe improvement of their symptoms from various dietary supplements, there is little scientific evidence that they work. In small amounts, I do not believe they are harmful, but I am not convinced they are any more effective than adhering to a healthy, well-balanced diet. On the contrary, there is strong scientific evidence showing that patients with a poor overall nutritional status have higher complication rates from surgery.
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