The kava plant is a tall shrub of the pepper family that grows in the Pacific Ocean. Kava means bitter in the Tongan language. Pacific Islanders make these soothing drinks. In this article, we talk about the benefits and side effects, drug interactions and important points of using kava plant.
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Kava tea benefits
According to research, kava plant can reduce anxiety. Of course, there is a difference of opinion about its effectiveness. Based on 7 clinical trials and evaluation of 645 people, kava is an effective treatment option for reducing anxiety.
In 2011, a study was conducted in Australia and confirmed previous findings. According to this study, kava tea was more effective than placebo for treating generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). According to these results, consumption of traditional kava drink is recommended, provided that regular liver enzymes are checked to prevent poisoning.
Most of the research on the effects of kava tea on insomnia has been in animal studies. Researchers believe that a special type of kavalactone called quinine probably produces this calming effect. According to a small human study in Germany, people who consumed 200 mg of kava tea daily experienced a significant reduction in insomnia after 14 days.
Despite the promising findings, the answers to the “Sleep Quality” questionnaire underestimated these results. According to the results of this questionnaire, even the people who took the placebo had a significant improvement in their sleep.
Side effects of kava tea
Kava tea side effects: Whether kava tea is beneficial or harmful is still controversial. While proponents of kava tea say the herb is safe for short-term treatment of anxiety, others claim its side effects far outweigh its benefits.
The most common side effects of kava tea are:
- Liver damage
- Skin problems
- Flaky or dry skin (in people who take a lot of kava)
- Liver damage
In March 2002, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned consumers and health professionals about the risk of liver damage associated with kava consumption. Case reports have linked kava tea consumption with liver toxicity including hepatitis, cirrhosis, liver failure and even death.
Many of these were associated with a history of liver disease, excessive consumption of kava tea, and heavy alcohol consumption. It is not yet clear whether liver toxicity from kava tea consumption is due to contaminants in poor quality extracts or organic solvents (such as acetone or ethanol) used to make kava extracts and supplements.
Although the World Health Organization says water-based kava drinks are safer, it stresses that high consumption of these drinks can severely increase liver enzymes. Also, according to the warning of the World Health Organization, poisoning caused by the kava plant depends on other factors, including:
- Raw root quality
- Root contamination
- Simultaneous use of this plant with other herbal medicines
After the warning, several countries restricted the sale of kava. To date, Germany, Canada, Poland and Switzerland have banned the sale of kava altogether. In the US, kava is classified as a dietary supplement and people can buy it for personal consumption.
Important points about consuming kava tea
The effect of this herb on the nervous system is not yet well known, so people with clinical depression, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia should not take it.
People with Parkinson’s disease should not drink kava tea, because the consumption of this plant makes their symptoms more severe.
Kava may interfere with blood clotting. People with bleeding disorders should not consume kava.
Also, its use should be stopped at least 2 weeks before surgery.
Kava can cause drowsiness and impaired consciousness and vision. Do not take kava if you plan to drive or operate sensitive machinery.
People with liver disease, pulmonary hypertension, low blood pressure and kidney disease should not consume kava tea.
Due to insufficient research, kava should not be consumed by children, pregnant women, or nursing mothers. According to some researches, kava can easily pass into breast milk.
If you drink kava tea and develop symptoms of liver damage, see your doctor. These symptoms include:
- Yellow skin and white eyes (jaundice)
- Stomach ache
- loss of appetite
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Drug interactions of kava tea
Kava may interact with some medications and supplements and sometimes increase the effects of the accompanying medication. Consult your doctor if you want to take kava at the same time as the following medications:
- Over-the-counter sedatives and hypnotics
- Tricyclic antidepressants such as tofranil (imipramine)
- Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)
- Anti-anxiety medications such as diazepam or lorazepam
- Diuretics (water pills) such as furosemide
- Blood thinners such as warfarin or clopidogrel
- Levodopa (for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease)
- Proton pump inhibitors such as lansoprazole and omeprazole
- Antipsychotics such as aripiprazole, clozapine, and quetiapine
The right dose to consume kava tea
There are no approved guidelines for kava consumption. Generally, kava is sold in the form of capsules, powder and syrup. Its dried root is also used to prepare drinks and kava tea.
Kava capsules are available in different dosages from 50 to 100 mg. Most experts recommend no more than 250 mg of kava per day and limit your intake to less than 3 months.
How to make kava tea? (Recipe)
Fresh kava root is usually not readily available, so you can make kava tea with dried kava.
- Pour a quarter of a cup of dried kava root into a piece of clean cloth and tie the end of the cloth with a thread.
- Put the kava packet in the teapot and then pour 1 cup of hot water.
- For 10 to 15 minutes, press the kava pack into hot water with a spoon.
- When this time is up, strain the liquid with a tea strainer and drink.
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This article was prepared by an expert. But this is for general information only. Before any action, it is necessary to consult a doctor.
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