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Biological Name: Piper methysticumKava

Other Names: tonga, ava pepper, Kava Kava, kew, Kava, kawa, ava, intoxicating pepper, awa

Elements Applied: To be applied in herbal medicine the rootstock is dried, cleaned of the roots and cut. In some cases the rootstock is applied fresh and with roots.

Active Components: Kava lactones (7 percent on average), represented by: desmethoxyyangonin, yangonine, 7,8-dihydro-(+)-methysticin, ( +)-methysticin, kavain (marindinine ),  and ( + )- kavain.

The most potent components of kava which are responsible for its medical activity are kava-lactones, or kava-pyrones. Their concentration in a quality rootstock is 7 percent on average. European mixtures commonly have 50 percent of kava-lactones on average.

History: Kava is originally found in the Pacific Islands. In ancient period it was spread all over the continent with people who carried it as a medicine and a beverage as well. Hawaii was marked by almost 15 species of kava. Pacific tribes applied kava in their religious traditions and everyday life, using it for festivals, as a good will note, and during ceremonies. Notably, the rootstock was applied in cooking a holiday beverage. This beverage is believed to increase sexual desire, stimulate the organism, increase perspiration and urination. It also soothes the nervous system. The rootstock is characterized by special aromatic smell, and is potent of producing mild topical anaesthetic effect.

Used For: The remedy is successfully applied to treat insomnia and anxiety. It fights nervous disorders, like stress. Kava-lactones produce a certain effect on the nervous system, providing nerve and muscle relaxation, thus relieving acute pains. According to scientific researches this herb is an effective stimulant meant to boost the functionality of limbic system, connected with emotions and other parts of human’s psychological activity.

Unlike benzodiazepine tranquilizers which produce serious addiction and worsen the memory, kava is known to improve mind activity without producing an addiction.

Additional Info: Kava belongs to a family of pepper and can be found wild at the Pacific Islands. Its rhizome is applied in medicine.

Preparation and Intake: The remedy is used in form of an extract, in which case the dose is 170 mg on average. In form of fluid tincture the remedy is applied in a dose of 2 ml on average.

Kava tablets are produced in various doses, commonly 100-250 mg, in which the concentration of kava-lactones is also different, namely 50-70 percent. The amount of kava commonly applied in course of scientific researches is 100 mg of 70 percent concentration kava extract, which is used thrice a day. According to several studies, this quantity is equal to 15 mg dose of benzodiazepine medicine Serax a day. There is no kava extract with 70-percent concentration of kava-lactones in general availability in the USA yet.

Kava should not be used on a regular basis for a period longer than 25 weeks (over 5 months). If applied for separate cases its use can be prolonged for a certain period, when there is an urgent necessity. In case 80 mg of kava extract is not sufficient for your nervous condition, consult your health-care provider to be sure if a larger dose can be taken, or whether you’d better take a prescription medicine.

Safety: According to FDA verdict of 2002 kava extract should be taken with extreme care due to its highly toxic effect on the liver. As the institution states, any kava taker who faces some liver condition signs, should see his/her health-care provider. These signs are the following: decreased appetite, stomachaches, weakness or fatigue, light-colored feces, vomiting or sickness, brown urine, yellowish eyes or skin, and jaundice. Patients who are going to use kava under liver condition should consult their health-care provider first. Kava’s negative impact on the liver made it forbidden in some areas, for instance, in Canada.

Kava overdose or improper dosing may lead to severe health conditions, like the following: respiration problems, nervous system depression, fatigue, weakness, complex movement disorders, muscle softness, and problems with eye-sight.

When kava is applied for a prolonged period, the so-called kawa dermopathy or kawaism, accompanied with: yellowish hair, nails, and skin; scaly skin, and reddish eyes.

When applied in abnormal doses, kava may lead to health conditions like: blood conditions, bloody urine, weight reduction, face swelling, and rashes.

The effect may be worsened if a patient takes alcohol or smokes cigarettes.

Polynesian tribes who abused kava tea, taking it in a dose ten times larger than the normal one, were reported to have scaly skin, or yellow-colored skin, which was accompanied with muscle tension, metabolic dysfunctions, eyesight problems, and breath abnormalities. The above mentioned negative impact on the organism disappears if one quits taking kava. Kava usage in high doses is no sense, and may lead to sad consequences. If used in normal quantities, kava doesn’t produce such effect on the organism.

While taking kava in suggested dosage, some individuals may be exposed to minor digestive problems. Kava is not recommended to use in conjunction with remedies which produce an effect on the nervous system, like antipsychotic medicines, antidepressants, barbiturates, and alcohol.

Kava should not be mixed with benzodiazepine antidepressants without a consultation with your health-care provider. There was an anecdotal report of lethargic condition after combining kava and Xanax, which was followed by a short stay in hospital. If you’re planning to take kava, your chemical antidepressant dosage should be gradually decreased to zero under medical control.

Do not take kava if you are diagnosed with clinical depression; it increases the danger of suicide.

Kava should not be used in case of Parkinson’s disease, due to the fact it may strengthen its symptoms. There are several cases of allergy to kava. Exercise care when operating machinery if you use kava. People suffering of any health condition or of senile age should take kava only under control or avoid using it at all. Kava should be avoided in case of pregnancy or nursing, and is not suitable for depression and anxiety.