Changes to the State’s medicines and poisons laws last month mean a ban has been lifted on the plant product, bringing WA into line with other States.
Kava, also known as Piper methysticin, is made from the root of a shrub and in small doses in herbal preparations can relax muscles and help with sleep. The WA Health Department said yesterday kava would be a closely regulated substance in WA.
Low-dose products labeled as a complementary medicine are available over the counter.
The department said patients should still seek expert advice before starting a treatment, and any mental health condition required the advice of a qualified medical professional.
Professor Jerome Sarris, who is deputy director of the NICM integrative medicine institute at Western Sydney University and has done clinical trials into the effectiveness of kava, said it was a sensible step forward.
“Anxiety disorders are complex and can significantly impact people’s day-to-day lives, and research has shown kava compares favorably to the efficacy of existing medications for the treatment of chronic anxiety,” he said.
“However, unlike some other options, it has less risk of dependency and less potential for side-effects such as lethargy and memory impairment.”