Pacific plant could be good news for anxiety sufferers

A clinical study on kava, a Pacific plant, has found that it has properties which could be extremely useful in treating the symptoms of anxiety. The plant has been used recreationally in Pacific societies, in places like Polynesia and Hawaii, for a long time but this is apparently the first proper clinical study of the plant.

Now, I must admit, I’m writing this story because I have some anecdotal experience with kava (piper methysticum) myself. Simply, I’ve been an insomniac on and off for most of my adult life. It can be an inconvenience, but I mostly have it under control. Of course, I’ve tried numerous different things to ease the insomnia, with varying degrees of success – but kava was always one of the best. That is, before it became unavailable to buy here in the UK.

This latest study, led by researchers at the University of Melbourne certainly seems to support the plant’s apparent calming ability. It may prove to be very useful to the significant numbers of people, both in Australia and worldwide, who suffer from anxiety disorders.

Anxiety is a more common problem than many people may think. In particular, generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) is a blight to millions of people around the world; in Australia, 3% of people suffer from GAD, and the numbers are similar in North America and parts of Europe, with estimates in the UK being as high as one in 20. Over the past decade, I’ve known a huge number of people who suffer from anxiety, and unfortunately, treatments for this type of disorders are far from straightforward.

“Based on previous work we have recognised that plant based medicines may be a viable treatment for patients with chronic anxiety,” explained lead researcher Jerome Sarris at the University of Melbourne’s Department of Psychiatry, who believes that new an more effective options are needed for patients with anxiety, instead of the existing medications. Sarris stressed the complexity of GAD and the way it can significantly affect the daily lives of those who suffer from it, continuing to add that, “In this study we’ve been able to show that Kava offers a potential natural alternative for the treatment of chronic clinical anxiety. Unlike some other options it has less risk of dependency and less potential for side effects.

Cite this article:
Hammonds M (2013-07-15 06:53:09). Pacific plant could be good news for anxiety sufferers. Australian Science. Retrieved: Mar 17, 2022, from