Kava Kava Benefits
It appears that several conditions, including anxiety disorders, spasms, and insomnia, can be treated with kava kava. Benefits of the dietary supplement are often exaggerated, however, and some benefits are more scientifically valid than others. Until more information is available about the safety and effectiveness of the supplement, the risks may outweigh any possible benefits of kava kava.
Kava kava (Piper methysticum) is a pepper-like plant native to the South Pacific. It is a common ingredient in dietary supplements. Kava kava supplements are often claimed to be helpful for the following conditions:
- Anxiety disorders
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Urinary tract infections (UTIs), such as bladder infections
- Menopausal symptoms.
Some of these kava kava benefits are more scientifically valid than others (see Does Kava Work? for more information). As with many supplements, claims for the benefits of kava kava are sometimes exaggerated, and these claims must be evaluated critically. Most importantly, it is essential to remember that natural products should not be used carelessly, as many natural products can be quite toxic (for instance, many poisons are natural products). In fact, there have been several reports of severe liver damage possibly due to kava kava, and kava kava supplements have been banned in several countries (see Safety of Kava Kava for more information). Therefore, until more information is available, it seems that the risks of using kava kava probably outweigh any possible benefits.