Kava kava is an herb native to the South Pacific region. This herb comes from the root of the Piper methysticum plant. Kava kava acts on a center in the brain to induce relaxation. It is commonly used to treat anxiety and insomnia. It has also been used in the management of fibromyalgia. The usual dose of kava kava to treat anxiety is 100-250 mg 1-3 times/day as needed (standardized to contain 30% active ingredients per dose). The usual dose to treat insomnia is 250-500 mg at bedtime. Kava kava is available in capsules or in teas.
Individuals who take prescription medications for sleep or anxiety should not take kava kava, due to the increased risk of sedation and respiratory depression (slowed breathing). Other drugs that should not be used with Kava kava are alcohol, haloperidol, risperidone, metoclopramide, and acetaminophen. Persons with a history of liver disease should not take Kava kava and it should not be used by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Remember to consult your health care provider before using any nonprescription medicine or nutritional supplement.