By Val Allen, Naturopath. Kava is now available in Western Australia by prescription from herbalists and naturopaths.
PNMC herbalists and naturopaths are very excited that the herb Kava (Piper methysticum) can be prescribed in Western Australia due to a change in regulations by the Western Australian Health Department. Kava is a proven, valuable herb for treating chronic anxiety, insomnia and fatigue-stiffened muscles and has been available for prescription in all other states and territories of Australia for many years. Our eastern states colleagues are amazed that we are able to attain reasonably good results for chronic anxiety states without being able to access this herb.
Many would associate Kava with ceremonial events and social occasions in Fiji, New Guinea and the Pacific Islands. Traditionally, Kava rhizomes are pounded to produce a milky mash to release the resins that are then drunk as a beverage. Kava has been medicinally used by these communities for centuries to soothe nerves, induce relaxation and sleep, and to treat urinary tract problems, sore throats, colds and digestive problems.
Double-blind trials of Kava have shown it to be as effective as drugs such as Valium for reducing anxiety and relaxing muscles, but it differs from Valium in that mental alertness is protected. Kava works best as a toning and corrective herb and is usually prescribed for a period of eight weeks. It is not recommended for elderly patients taking Parkinson’s medication or children under twelve years of age.
Chronic anxiety, panic attacks and insomnia are target areas where Kava shines and with our current uncertain economy and the pressures of daily living we are pleased that we now have this valuable herb for our prescribing and that common sense has brought us into line with the rest of Australia.
If you do experience any of the symptoms mentioned in this article it could be an appropriate time to make an appointment with one of our naturopaths and improve your quality of life.