Efficacy of kava-kava in the treatment of non-psychotic anxiety, following pretreatment with benzodiazepines

Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2001 Sep;157(3):277-83. doi: 10.1007/s002130100792.


A 5-week randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study was carried out to investigate the efficacy of kava-kava special extract WS1490 in non-psychotic nervous anxiety, tension and restlessness states. During the first treatment week, the study dose drug was increased from 50 mg to 300 mg per day and pretreatment with benzodiazepines was tapered off over 2 weeks. These dosage adjustments were followed by 3 weeks of monotherapy with WS1490 or placebo. Outcome measures were the differences between baseline and end of treatment on the Hamilton Anxiety Scale (HAMA) and on a subjective well-being scale (Bf-S), as well as the benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms. Changes in the Erlanger Anxiety, Tension and Aggression Scale (EAAS) and Clinical Global Impressions (CGI) were analyzed as secondary measures. Treatment safety was checked by interviews, adverse event reports and laboratory investigations. Forty patients (2x20) were included into the study. WS1490 was superior to placebo regarding the HAMA (P=0.01) and Bf-S (P=0.002) total scores and all secondary efficacy measures. The tolerance of WS1490 was not inferior to placebo. The study confirms the anxiolytic efficacy and good tolerance of WS1490 and shows that a further symptom reduction is possible after a change-over from benzodiazepine treatment.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anti-Anxiety Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Anxiety / drug therapy*
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kava*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Phytotherapy* / adverse effects
  • Plant Extracts / adverse effects
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use*
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anti-Anxiety Agents
  • Plant Extracts
  • Benzodiazepines