Sunday, November 27, 2011

Kava Kava

Scientific name: Piper methysticum

Other names: 'awa,'ava, kawa, kew, yagona, sakau, tonga


Kava is a tall evergreen shrub in the pepper family that grows in the South Pacific islands and some parts of Micronesia and Australia. It has stout rhizomes, fleshy stems and big leaves shaped like hearts. The roots of the plant has been used for thousands of years as a folk remedy and as a beverage. It has sedative properties and is drank to relax without disrupting mental clarity.

Parts used:

The root is the part of the plant used medicinally. Traditionally, it is prepared by either chewing, or made into a beverage by grinding or pounding the roots then combined with a small amount of  cold water and consumed as quickly as possible.

Medicinal Properties and Uses:

The main active components in kava root are called kavalactones. It has been found to affect the levels of specific neurotransmitters like dopamine, norepinephrine and gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA). It is a bitter, pungent herb that has anesthetic properties, diuretic effect as well as herbal aphrodisiac properties.

Kava is an effective folk remedy for back pain, anxiety and insomnia as it relaxes the muscles and calms the nerves.

* It also enhances mental alertness and concentration

* It fights mouth ulcers

In folk medicine it also used for gout, rheumatism and arthritis.

Kava if effective for both acute and chronic gonorrhea, vaginitis, syphilis and other genito-urinary infections.

It is applied externally for ringworm and athlete’s foot.

Precautions and Side effects:

Consult your doctor before taking kava.  You should not take kava if you are pregnant or breastfeeding a baby. Avoid drinking alcohol while taking kava. The use of kava may cause Liver Toxicity. Do NOT start a new medication without telling your doctor.