The effectiveness and safety of Kava Kava for treating anxiety symptoms: A systematic review and analysis of randomized clinical trials.
Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2018 Nov ;33:107-117. Epub 2018 Sep 15. PMID: 30396607
BACKGROUND: To determine if Kava Kava is an effective treatment for combating symptoms of anxiety despite warnings of hepatotoxicity from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
METHODS: Databases PubMed, CINAHL, and PsycINFO were utilized to obtain clinical trials on Kava Kava and its effects on anxiety. A total of 11 articles met inclusion/exclusion criteria: 2 for Kava Kava vs. another anti-anxiety medication, 2 detailing additional adverse events, and 7 for Kava Kava vs. placebo. Mantel-Haenszel fixed-effects model was used to analyze the data, with responder rates being pooled to compute weighted risk ratios.
RESULTS: Kava Kava was shown to be more effective than placebo in 3 of the 7 trials. A final risk ratio of 1.50 (95% CI: 1.12, 2.01) from responder rates was calculated in favor of the intervention from 5 clinical trials (n = 330). Adverse events were shown to be the same as placebo (P = 0.574), and laboratory values analyzing hepatotoxicity were no different when compared to baseline except in two studies.
CONCLUSIONS: Kava Kava appears to be a short-term treatment for anxiety, but not a replacement for prolonged anti-anxiety use. Although not witnessed in this review, liver toxicity is especially possible if taken longer than 8 weeks.