Kava Kava
  Piper Methysticum

Kava Kava, powerful herbal antispasmodic, relieves nervous tension in mind and body, anti-anxiety herb, dissipates effects of fears. An effective diuretic with potent anti-spasmodic and anti-pathogenic properties.   Humans colonized the area of New Guinea and Australia about 40,000 years ago.   They gradually spread out into the islands of Western Melanesia, and later to islands further east.  It has been suggested by many that the cultivation of Piper methysticum began in earnest in Vanuatu about 3,000 years ago.  From there it was spread eastward by seafaring islanders, into Fiji and Polynesia, and west to New Guinea and Micronesia.  The kava plant is spread not by seed, but by the cutting of "cultivars" which are transported and replanted by humans.  The plant was then, and still is, made into a thick brew to serve as a folk medicine, the consumption of which is usually accompanied by some type of religious ceremony.  Kava was used as currency in trade, offered up at weddings, and consumed daily as an integral part of island society.  The earliest records of kava in the west come from the logs of Captain Cook's second voyage to the South Pacific in the late 18th century.  Kava was prepared by pounding or chewing the root.

Kava has four main therapeutic properties:
, it is one of the most powerful of all the herbal antispasmodics especially useful for relieving nervous tension throughout the mind and body.
Second, it is an anti-anxiety herb that will quickly almost instantly dissipate effects of the many fears and apprehensions that are so much a part of the hectic lifestyle of nineties.
Third, it is an effective diuretic with potent anti-spasmodic and anti-pathogenic properties making it useful for a variety of genitourinary dysfunctions ranging from cystitis, prostatitis, venereal disease (such as gonorrhea), vaginal leucorrhea (including yeast infections), nocturnal urination and general fluid retention.
Fourth, Kava is a carminative that improves appetite and digestion. The combination of these properties makes Kava useful for the treatment of arthritic and rheumatic conditions, which is one of its traditional medicinal uses among South Sea Islanders.

Topically, kava can be applied as a fomentation or ointment for mild general anesthesia for the local relief of sore muscles. It can also be chewed and kept in the mouth for the temporary relief of toothaches.

A word to the wise.   When you are using an herb, use it in the traditional way it has always been used.   The traditional use of Kava has always been the use of the root not the leaf or bark.   See the article below for what can happen when companies try to increase profits without following the traditional use of Kava.

At the start of 2002, prospects were bright for Hawaii's Kava producers.   During the previous decade, the consumer base for Kava had expanded beyond drinkers of the traditional water-based Kava beverage to include the much larger nutritional supplement market.   Kava capsules were prescribed in Europe to treat anxiety and insomnia.   Statewide farm revenues for Kava had more than quadrupled in one year, from $120,000 to $585,000.

By year's end, the Kava industry had collapsed.   At least 68 suspected cases of Kava-linked liver toxicity had been reported, including nine liver failures that resulted in six liver transplants and three deaths.   Countries in Europe, Asia, and North America had banned the sale of all Kava products.   In the U.S., where the Federal Drug Administration issued warnings but did not institute a ban, supplement sales plummeted.

In an article soon to be published in the journal Phytochemistry, Prof. C.S. Tang (MBBE), his doctoral student Klaus Dragull, and Mr. Wesley Yoshida (Dept. of Chemistry) characterize several chemical compounds present in above ground portions of the Kava plant but absent from the underground tissues used by Kava drinkers.   The UH scientists hypothesize that these compounds, called alkaloids in the bark and leaf, may be responsible for the liver toxicity observed in some users of Kava supplements.

Little Herb Encyclopedia, by Jack Ritchason; N.D., Woodland Publishing Incorporated, 1995
Nutritional Herbology, by Mark Pedersen, Wendell W. Whitman Company, 1998
Rodale's Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs, Rodale Press, Emmaus, Pennsylvania 1987
The Ultimate Healing System, Course Manual, Copyright 1985, Don Lepore
Planetary Herbology, Michael Tierra, C.A., N.D., Lotus Press, 1988





Important Note:
The information presented herein by The Natural Path Botanicals is intended for educational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent disease. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

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