ABC Radio National’s Bush Telegraph has a special programme on a psychoactive plant called kava that has been used ceremonially by Pacific Islanders for generations and has recently been researched as a treatment for depression and anxiety.
The effects of kava are usually compared to alcohol as it has a sedating and relaxing effect, although it produces far less thinking impairment than booze so the drinker has much more mental clarity.
The programme explores the history and traditional preparation of this tranquillising plant as well as discussing recent scientific research on its use as a psychiatric treatment.
This is particularly in light of a recent study by psychiatrist Jerome Sarris and colleagues where it performed remarkably well as both an anti-anxiety and anxidepressant drug.
In the interview, Sarris describes how kava affects the brain as well as suggesting that its ban in many countries, based on concerns about liver damage, may be due to low quality preparations of the compound which aren’t found in traditional methods.
Link to Bush Telegraph on ‘Kava, bliss and angst’.