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A placebo-controlled study of Kava kava in generalized anxiety disorder

Connor, K.M.; Davidson, J.R.T.

International Clinical Psychopharmacology: July 2002 - Volume 17 - Issue 4 - p 185-188
Research Papers

We assessed the efficacy and safety of a botanical anxiolytic, Kava kava (Piper methysticum), in treating generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Thirty-seven adults with DSM-IV GAD were randomly assigned to 4 weeks of double-blind treatment with kava or a matching placebo. Weekly efficacy assessments [Hamilton Anxiety Scale, Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS), Self Assessment of Resilience and Anxiety (SARA)] and safety evaluations were conducted. Improvement was observed with both treatments but no differences were found in the principal analysis. Post-hoc analyses revealed significant differences based on baseline anxiety severity, whereby kava was superior on the SARA in low anxiety and placebo was superior on the HADS and SARA in high anxiety. Both treatments were well tolerated. Although kava was not superior to placebo, it would be premature to rule it out as efficacious in GAD.

Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC, USA

Correspondence to Kathryn M. Connor, Box 3812 Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27710, USA

Tel: +1 919 684 5849; fax: +919 684 8866; e-mail:

Received 12 November 2001 accepted 12 April 2002

© 2002 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.