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A bee flies from plant to plant while feeding on a flowering Anigozanthus, also known as Kangaroo Paws, at a nursery in San Gabriel, California on March 25, 2013.
A sailing ship is visible on the Bodensee lake near Ueberlingen, Germany, on May 1, 2013. Flowers at the lakeside are visible in the front.
Visitors enjoy watching the Blue Nemophila flowers bloom during the Golden Week holidays, at Hitachinaka Kaihin Park on May 5, 2013 in Hitachinaka, Ibaraki, Japan.
A field of tulips at Magdeburg Börde in Schwaneberg, Germany, on May 3, 2013. Different species of the spring flowers are grown on more than 40 hectars.
A visitor looks at blooms at the Rhododendron Park in Bremen, Germany, on May 10, 2013. Nature is catching up after the unusually long winter. One effect is that rhododendrons normally bloom in succession, but now all of the flowers are blooming at once.
Villagers trim the tulip blossoms at a planting base in Qushui County, Lhasa City, capital of southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, May 9, 2013. The seed bulbs of tulip flowers were introduced into Lhasa from Yunnan Province.
Blossoms of a peach tree are visible in a garden in Eichwalde, Germany, on April 29, 2013.
A bee approaches cherry tree blossoms during a sunny spring day at a park in Brussels on April 14, 2013.
A woman meditates under a blooming cherry tree on the edge of the Potomace river in Washington D.C., on April 9, 2013.
A bee sits on a blooming Japanese cherry tree at the castle gardens in Schwetzingen, Germany, on April 15, 2013.
Different colored pansies are grown at a nursery near Kitzingen, Germany, 26 March 2013.
The sun shines through a blooming syringa bush in Berlin, Germany, on May 12, 2013.
The Guinness Book of World Records this spring certified this wisteria vine -- blooming at a Sierra Madre home on March 14, 2013, near Los Angeles -- as the world's largest blossoming plant. The wisteria vine is more than one acre in size and weighs 250 tons. It has more than 1.5 million blossoms every year with 40 blooms per square foot. The branches of this wisteria vine reach an 500 feet long. Horticultural experts have estimated the branches can grow 24 inches in 24 hours. The wisteria vine is a Chinese variety. It was planted in 1894 by William and Alice Brugman.
Blossoms of a Magnolia tree are visible on a sunny day with a clear blue sky in Dresden, Germany, 26 April 2013.
A bee seeks nectar on a ceanothus shrub at the Fullerton Arboretum in California.
White flowers on branches of the North American Cornus 'Florida', Flowering Dogwood.
An extract from the kava plant can treat people with chronic anxiety, an study from Australia finds.
Patients with generalized anxiety disorder who took kava extract tablets for six weeks showed a significant reduction in their symptoms, compared with a control groupthat took placebo pills, the results showed.
The study confirms previous findings showing the anti-anxiety effects of kava, a psychoactive plant native to the Pacific region.
Kava is culturally important among many Pacific Islanders, and is used in rituals and ceremonies. Consuming kava may induce a mild sedation and euphoria, a numbing effect and enhanced social interaction. It is prepared in various forms, such as grinding the plant or brewing its roots.
It's believed the roots contain chemicals that may treat anxiety. The active ingredients of the plant are compounds called kavalactones. These chemicals have similar effects to medications such as Xanax, which are used to treat anxiety and panic disorders.
In the new study, 75 patients with anxiety disorders were given either kava or placebo pills, and their anxiety levels were regularly assessed over the next six weeks.
Patients who consumed kava tablets showed significant improvements in their symptoms, as measured by a commonly used psychological test.
By the end of the experiment, 26 percent of kava-consuming patients were in remission from their symptoms compared with 6 percent of the placebo group, according to the study, which was published this month in the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology.
Kava is less addictive and has a lower risk of side effects compared with conventional anxiety medications, according to the study.
In the study, some people taking kava reported headaches, but no other side effects were seen. Previous studies have suggested the plant may have negative effects on the liver, but liver tests in the study participants showed no problems.
Researchers also found that people’s genetics may affect their response to kava. Genes that code for proteins that transport a brain chemical called GABA may play a role in this.
“If this finding is replicated, it may pave the way for simple genetic tests to determine which people may be likely to have a beneficial anxiety-reducing effect from taking kava,” said Jerome Sarris, study author from the University of Melbourne.
The new study adds to the evidence of kava's medicinal potential. A 2010 review of 12 controlled trials concluded that kava is likely to be an effective treatment for anxiety, and its short-term use is likely to be safe. The reviewers, however, called for larger studies to bolster these results.
Kava is a major export of the Pacific. It was once banned in some Western countries, primarily out of concern for its alleged effects on the liver. It is now legal in most places and available in various forms, such as in relaxation supplements and “anti-energy” drinks.
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