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kava

n. an extract of the root of Piper methysticum, a shrub indigenous to certain southern Pacific islands, where it is used for ritual, social, and recreational purposes. It is a mild intoxicant, sedative, and analgesic agent. The primary active ingredients of the plant are kavain, dihydrokavain, methysticin, and dihydromethysticin—alkaloids that have anticonvulsant and muscle relaxant properties and also produce sedation without clouding of consciousness. Kava is now widely available in Western countries as an herbal supplement promoted for relaxation (e.g., to relieve stress, anxiety, and tension) and as a remedy for sleeplessness and menopausal symptoms, among other uses. These benefits have largely not been definitively determined, and in fact kava-containing supplements have been shown to be ineffective for treating menopausal symptoms. In 2002, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a consumer advisory warning of the potential risk of rare but serious reactions—including hepatitis, cirrhosis, and liver failure—associated with use of these supplements. Kava has also been associated with depression of the central nervous system or coma (particularly in combination with prescribed anxiolytics), and other less serious adverse reactions (e.g., skin rash) have been reported as well. There are several known and potential interactions of kava with other agents (see drug interactions), including anticoagulants, monoamine oxidase inhibitors, and drugs metabolized by the cytochrome P450 3A4 enzyme (e.g., clonidine, nefazodone, St. John’s wort). Also called ava; kava kava.

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Psychology term of the day

June 18th 2024

survival analysis

survival analysis

a family of statistical methods used to model a variety of time-related outcomes. The simplest application of survival analysis involves estimating the amount of time until the occurrence of an event (e.g., death, illness, graduation, marriage) for a group of individuals, but the technique also may be applied to compare durations for two or more groups and to build multivariate models that explain variation in duration. Also called event history analysis.