So, to sum up, what is kava root?Kava root is the root of a small bush that’s native to the Pacific island region. For thousands of years, it’s been used in religious and cultural ceremonies, and as a drink passed around in social environments. Kava has made its way to western culture, particularly as people who struggle with conditions like anxiety want to avoid pharmaceutical remedies and instead want natural options. Kava kava has become so popular that bars focusing on the use of it have been opening up around the country and the world. Kava root can be taken in several different ways. You can use the ground up root to create a tea requiring steeping and kneading. You can also purchase kava teas, drinks and concentrates that are ready to go, or you can take it as a capsule supplement. There are varying levels of quality with kava root, and when people use it, they should try to source the best products available. So, why do people use kava root? It’s said to promote a sense of calm and relaxation, particularly among people who suffer from symptoms of anxiety. It’s believed to create a mild sense of euphoria or well-being, and other possible benefits of kava root include the ability to relieve pain, destroy fungus, prevent spasms, and it’s used as a diuretic in some cases. Kava root primarily affects the limbic system, which controls everything from emotion to motivation. While kava root can sound like an excellent alternative to anti-anxiety drugs or alcohol, it’s not without risks. The FDA warns people to compare the risks vs. benefits of using kava. There are minor side effects that can occur with the use of kava root products including headache, dizziness or drowsiness, but some of the most severe potential side effects deal with liver toxicity. There have been some incidents of people experiencing liver injury and even failure following the use of kava root. For that reason, medical professionals advise people to be aware of the risks and also to avoid using it with alcohol or if you have an existing liver condition. Do the benefits of kava outweigh the risks? This is something to discuss with your health care provider. There are potential drug and supplement interactions that can occur with kava root and other possible risks, so before considering the use of kava for anxiety or any other purpose, speak with a doctor. Also recognize that all the risks might not be fully understood about kava because there is a limited amount of research on it right now.