Research: PITTLER and ERNST,

Listed in Issue 53


PITTLER and ERNST, Department of complementary Medicine, School of Postgraduate Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Exeter, United Kingdom. M.H. conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to assess the evidence for and against the efficacy of kava extract as a symptomatic treatment for anxiety.



The authors conducted systematic and unrestricted literature searches of MEDLINE, EMBASE, BIOSIS, AMED, CISOM and the Cochrane Library to June 1998 using the search terms kava, kawa, kavain, Piper methysticum and Rauschpfeffer (German for Piper methysticum). All publications were blinded prior to assessment by a person not involved in the study, and data were extracted in a standardized, predefined manner independently by the two reviewers. The methodologic quality of all the trials were assessed.


All seven reviewed trials suggested superiority of kava extract over placebo; the meta-analysis of three trials suggested a significant difference in the reduction of the total score on the Hamilton Rating Scale for Anxiety in favour of kava extract.


The data imply that kava extract is superior to placebo in the symptomatic treatment for anxiety; hence kava extract should be considered as a valid treatment for anxiety.


Pittler MH and Ernst E. Efficacy of kava extract for treating anxiety: systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology 20(1): 84-9. Feb 2000.

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