In 2003, Professor Edzard Ernst writing on the Cochrane Collaboration website concluded, “Compared with placebo, kava extract is an effective symptomatic treatment for anxiety although, at present, the size of the effect seems small.”

His findings were based on a reanalysis of the data (meta-analysis) from 7 studies, in which there was significant reduction in the Hamilton Anxiety Scale (HAM-A) scores for patients receiving kava extract compared with patients receiving placebo. (More on HAM-A here). The results from 5 other studies supported this conclusion.

Now, writing in Advances in Psychiatric Treatment, he reiterates this conclusion and adds that St. John’s wort is effect treatment for depression.

Here is a list of other herbals.

  • Ginkgo biloba
  • Lavandula angustifolia (Lavender)
  • Valeriana officinalis (Valerian)
  • Crataegus oxyacantha (Hawthorn)
  • Eschscholzia californica (California poppy)
  • Matricaria recutita (Chamomile)
  • Melissa officinalis (Lemon balm)
  • Passiflora incarnate (Passionflower)

They lack scientific support for the treatment of anxiety and/or depression, according to Professor Ernst.

Before you take kava, read this.

7/13/07 10:40 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.