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Hum Psychopharmacol. 2012 May;27(3):262-9. doi: 10.1002/hup.2216. Epub 2012 Feb 7.

The acute effects of kava and oxazepam on anxiety, mood, neurocognition; and genetic correlates: a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study.

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  • 1The University of Melbourne, Department of Psychiatry, 2 Salisbury St., Richmond, Melbourne, Australia. jsarris@unimelb.edu.au

Abstract

RATIONALE:

Kava (Piper methysticum) is a psychotropic plant medicine with history of cultural and medicinal use. We conducted a study comparing the acute neurocognitive, anxiolytic, and thymoleptic effects of a medicinal dose of kava to a benzodiazepine and explored for the first time specific genetic polymorphisms, which may affect the psychotropic activity of phytomedicines or benzodiazepines.

METHODS:

Twenty-two moderately anxious adults aged between 18 and 65 years were randomized to receive an acute dose of kava (180 mg of kavalactones), oxazepam (30 mg), and placebo 1 week apart in a crossover design trial.

RESULTS:

After exposure to cognitive tasks, a significant interaction was revealed between conditions on State-Trait Anxiety Inventory-State anxiety (p = 0.046, partial ŋ² = 0.14). In the oxazepam condition, there was a significant reduction in anxiety (p = 0.035), whereas there was no change in anxiety in the kava condition, and there was an increase in anxiety in the placebo condition. An increase in Bond-Lader "calmness" (p = 0.002) also occurred for the oxazepam condition. Kava was found to have no negative effect on cognition, whereas a reduction in alertness (p < 0.001) occurred in the oxazepam condition. Genetic analyses provide tentative evidence that noradrenaline (SLC6A2) transporter polymorphisms may have an effect on response to kava.

CONCLUSION:

Acute "medicinal level" doses of this particular kava cultivar in naive users do not provide anxiolytic activity, although the phytomedicine also appears to have no negative effects on cognition.

PMID:
22311378
DOI:
10.1002/hup.2216
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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