The Closest Natural Remedy for Anxiety to Xanax

Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental health conditions worldwide, affecting over 284 million people. While medications like Xanax (alprazolam) are frequently prescribed for anxiety, many people are looking for natural alternatives with fewer side effects. One of the closest natural options to Xanax is kava.

Kava is a traditional herb that has been used for centuries in the South Pacific for its relaxing, euphoric, and calming effects. The root and underground stems of the Piper methysticum plant are made into supplements and drinks. Kavalactones are the active ingredients in kava responsible for its anti-anxiety effects.

How Does Kava Work for Anxiety?

Kavalactones act on the brain’s GABA receptors similarly to benzodiazepines like Xanax and Valium. GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that calms overactivity and reduces anxiety when it binds to its receptors. By enhancing the effects of GABA, kava promotes relaxation of the nervous system.

Clinical studies show kava is effective at reducing anxiety symptoms like restlessness, muscle tension, heart palpitations, chest tightness, and insomnia. A meta-analysis of multiple trials found it worked as well as prescription anti-anxiety medications for generalized anxiety disorder. Participants also reported better tolerability of kava compared to oxazepam drugs.

Benefits of Kava Over Xanax

While Xanax provides fast-acting anti-anxiety effects, it comes with many drawbacks:

  • Addiction Potential – Xanax is habit-forming and discontinuing use can lead to difficult withdrawal symptoms. Kava does not appear to be addictive.
  • Side Effects – Xanax frequently causes drowsiness, dizziness, nausea, and impaired coordination. Kava rarely produces significant side effects.
  • Safety – Overdoses of Xanax can be fatal. There are no known reports of fatal overdoses of kava.
  • Legality – A prescription is needed for Xanax. Kava supplements are legal in most countries.
  • Interactions – Xanax has major interactions with many drugs. Kava has few known drug interactions.

While kava seems to have advantages over Xanax, it is not without risks. Liver toxicity has been reported in a small number of kava users, so those with liver problems should avoid it. Using acetonic or ethanolic kava extracts and high doses for prolonged periods seems to increase the risk of liver issues.

Kava Forms and Dosing

Kava supplements come in teas, capsules, tablets, liquid drops, and powders. Traditional kava root tea or liquid extracts are considered most effective. For anxiety, experts recommend a dosage of 60-120 mg kavalactones divided into 2 or 3 doses per day. Effects are felt within 30-60 minutes and last about 2-3 hours.

It is best to take kava with food and not combine it with alcohol, sedatives, or medications that affect the liver. Kava use should be limited to 1-3 months for safety reasons. People planning surgery should stop kava 2 weeks beforehand due to interactions with anesthetics.

In conclusion, kava is one of the top natural remedies for anxiety that may provide benefits similar to Xanax without the extensive side effects, risk of dependence, and need for a prescription. Talk to your doctor to see if kava is the right choice for your specific anxiety symptoms.