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Does Kava Help With Alcohol Withdrawal?

Kava has been used for withdrawal of various narcotics and drugs. The properties of kava are such that it reduces the cravings for narcotics.

Kava produces certain effects that minimize the withdrawal symptoms. People are considering using kava for alcohol withdrawal and many have even used it.

Does kava help with alcohol withdrawal? How effective is kava for alcohol withdrawal? How to use kava for alcohol withdrawal? What is the appropriate dosage for alcohol withdrawal?

These are some questions that are arising in your mind if you’re looking for a way to get rid of alcoholism. If you want your answers, continue reading the article below.

What is Kava and what is its mechanism of action?

Kava kava, generically called Piper methysticum is a herbal supplement. The root of kava is used for medicinal and recreational purposes.

Kava is grown in the Western Pacific region and exported to all parts of the world. Kava tea is a popular drink in many cultures and it is consumed by people to feel happy and stimulated at their traditional events.

Kava root contains a number of kavalactones, kavapyrones and glutathione that imparts it, its effects.

These kavalactones are different in types and each of these kavalactones has variable effects.

Kavalactones consist of kavain, dihyroxykavain, yangonin etc. Together these active substances of kava act on the various central and peripheral neuronal pathways to induce a state of calmness, relaxation, a worrisome state with a sense of contentment.

These effects are brought about by the following pathways

  • Enhancement of Glutaminergic pathways
  • Enhancement of Serotonergic pathways to induce the release of serotonin
  • Slowing the reuptake of noradrenaline
  • Potentiation of GABA on GABA ‘A’ receptors by increasing the binding
  • Increase in Dopaminergic signalling
  • Stimulate the cannabinoid (CB1) receptors

What is alcohol withdrawal?

Alcohol withdrawal refers to a set of symptoms that occur as a result of drinking too much alcohol on regular basis and then suddenly quitting alcohol.

These symptoms occur in persons of all ages and the more regularly you drink alcohol, the more likely you are to develop alcohol withdrawal symptoms when you stop drinking alcohol.

If you have a predisposing medical condition you may suffer from more severe withdrawal symptoms.

The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal appear within 8 hours after last drink. Symptoms peak between 24 to 72 hours and the duration of these symptoms last for up to several weeks.

The withdrawal symptoms of alcohol are anxiety, depression, fatigue, irritability, and shakiness, mood swings, nightmares, and sweating, clammy skin, enlarged pupils, headache, and insomnia, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, pallor, tachycardia.

A severe form of alcohol withdrawal is called delirium tremens which can cause agitation, fever, hallucinations, seizures and severe confusion.

What is the alcohol withdrawal timeline?

It is divided into three stages;

  • Stage 1: consists of the symptoms anxiety, insomnia, nausea, and abdominal pain. This stage begins 8 hours after the last drink.
  • Stage 2: It is characterized by high blood pressure, increased body temperature, unusual heart rate, and confusion. It begins 24-72 hours after the last drink.
  • Stage 3: The characteristic symptoms of this stage include hallucinations, fever, seizures, and agitation. This stage begins 72+ hours after the last drink.

All symptoms tend to decrease within 5-7 days.

Does kava help with alcohol withdrawal?

According to research kava induces a sense of relaxation and a sense of well being.

Kavalactones act on GABA A receptors which are also stimulated by alcohol.

This is why kava can help with alcohol withdrawal. Increase in a number of excitatory neurotransmitters allows one to feel reward and energy and makes one more social with a feeling of empathy.

Such positive feelings can help with alcohol withdrawal. Using kava for alcohol withdrawal can alleviate anxiety, restlessness, fatigue, and depression and muscle soreness.

Many people who have taken kava for alcohol withdrawal have experienced profound relief from anxiety that follows alcohol withdrawal.

Does kava work for delirium tremens?

Unfortunately, kava is a weak GABA receptor agonist and it cannot help with the symptoms of severe alcohol withdrawal which includes seizures and hallucinations.

Must Read:  How Long Does Kava Tea Stay In Your System?

If you are suffering from delirium tremens you need to consult your doctor immediately and get immediate treatment.

What is the best kava for alcohol withdrawal?

Kava can be taken in different forms for alcohol withdrawal.

Kava tinctures aren’t usually strong according to user reviews on various drug forums.

Kava root extracts are highly beneficial for alcohol withdrawal as they allow you to feel happy without any worries or stress.

Just add half a teaspoon of Kratom extract into a glass of cold water and drink it, if you don’t feel any effects re-dose after an hour.

Using this ritual each evening for a week or two can help you relax and minimize your alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

With kava, you might experience something called ‘reverse tolerance’, which means that you need less kava each time to achieve the same effect.

is it Kava toxic?

There are rumours about kava that it is toxic and that it causes damage to the liver. How much truth is there in these statements?

Well firstly, kava itself isn’t toxic, until unless you are taking other parts of kava and not the kava root.

Kava can be toxic if the kava product has been extracted using alcohol or acetone. The leaves of kava plant are toxic and that is why consuming kava leaves can damage your liver.

More research is required in the field of herbal supplement that are replacing prescription drugs.

Germany lifted its ban on all kava products in 2014 when the World Health Organization report about kava clarified that kava is safe as long as only the kava root is used and it is not extracted by methods involving alcohol or acetone.

Is Kava addictive?

So far there has been no evidence about kava being physically addictive.

In very rare cases it may have been addictive but the evidence of kava addiction is too low.

Users haven’t reported anything such as dependence and addiction to kava.

So using kava for alcohol withdrawal is totally safe and you won’t develop the addiction to kava.

What do research studies say about kava for alcohol withdrawal?

A number of studies indicate that kava is effective and safe for use in patients with alcohol withdrawal who are suffering from anxiety.

The three major studies that link to the efficacy of alcohol withdrawal are mentioned below;

  1. Kava as an anti-craving agent by Steiner GG
  2. Kava for the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder (K-GAD): study protocol for a randomized controlled trial by Karen M. Savage, Con K. Stough, Gerard J. Byrne, Andrew Scholey, Chad Bousman, Jenifer Murphy, Patricia Macdonald, Chao Suo, Matthew Hughes, Stuart Thomas, Rolf Teschke, Chengguo Xing, and Jerome Sarris
  3. Kava in the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study by Sarris J, Stough C, Bousman CA, Wahid ZT, Murray G, Teschke R, Savage KM, Dowell A, Ng C, Schweitzer I

These studies prove the efficacy of Kava for alcohol withdrawal and the treatment of the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal especially anxiety.

What else can I do for easing the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal?

To ease the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal you need to take proper nutrition. Avoid taking sugars which also includes corn syrup and fruit juice concentrates.

Also, decrease the consumption of refined carbohydrates like bread and pasta. Increase the consumption of fresh vegetables and whole grains.

Increase the intake of proteins as well as Vitamin B complex and Vitamin C. Exercise regularly and get your detoxification done from a proper professional care centre. Have a support group.

Kava for alcohol withdrawal-The bottom line

It is necessary that you consult a doctor when you experience the alcohol withdrawal symptoms and you can ask your doctor if you can consume kava for alcohol withdrawal.

General opinion and research prove facts indicate that kava is a beneficial herbal supplement that can ease the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal and decrease the duration of alcohol withdrawal.

It is one of the best detoxes and it should not be ignored. Do not take kava with any medications that are given for alcohol withdrawal.

Jennifer Kurtz
Jennifer Kurtz studied medicine at the New Jersey School of Medicine (Rutgers). She is passionate about developing her knowledge of Cannabis, Nootropics, Kratom, and nutritional supplements. In addition to attending medical webinars and conferences, she loves to write research-based articles for magazines, healthcare professionals, and medical agencies.

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