Everyone experiences stress and pain at some point in life. And, the ways to overcome these feelings can vary from person to person. In some cases, people take supplements to improve their nutrition or even reduce anxiety. Kava kava, often shortened to “kava,” and known in the plant kingdom as piper methysticum, is one of many supplements people use to promote relaxation and reduce pain. But how exactly does this supplement work, and what are the potential benefits?
What is Kava Kava?
Kava kava is a Pacific Island leafy plant that comes in supplement form for human consumption. Some countries, especially European countries, ban or highly discourage the use of kava, due to its potential to damage the liver. In small amounts, though, kava can have the potential to improve various symptoms, such as anxiety.
Other names for kava include:
Taking kava may reap benefits to your health and wellbeing. Please note that there is not enough evidence to conclude the benefits below actually occur, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NIH).
Such benefits include but are not limited to:
- Increased happiness
- Pain relief
- Relaxed muscles
- Reduced anxiety and/or stress
Kava may affect people differently. While some people may benefit from taking the supplement, others may notice little to no difference in their health.
It is critical to consult with your doctor before taking kava. There are potential side effects, some very serious, that could occur.
The NIH outlines side effects, which include but are not limited to:
- Liver damage, which could be lethal in some cases
- Digestive problems
- Dry, yellowing skin in some long-term use cases
Additionally, kava may interact with certain medications, including Xanax. Talk to your doctor before taking kava to ensure it is safe.
The NIH also states not to take kava if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
How to take Kava Kava
Kava Kava comes in multiple forms, including:
The type of supplement you take is up to you, but you should be aware that the liquid and powder supplement forms may have a taste to them.
For the safest and best advice in terms of proper kava dosage, consult your doctor. It is absolutely critical to let your doctor know if you plan to take any supplements, including kava, as it could potentially interact with any medication(s) you take or result in serious side effects.
Most kava supplement bottles will outline a general dosage, but you should still ask your doctor about the appropriate dosage.
As with any supplement, you should talk to your doctor about the potential benefits and side effects before incorporating it into your daily routine.
Always look at the packaging labels for more information when buying kava or any other supplement. You may want to look out for the following:
- What, if any government labels the package has to determine the level of regulation and testing the product underwent
- Other ingredients in the product that you could be sensitive to
Disclaimer: This article does not constitute professional medical advice, nor can it replace the advice of a licensed professional.