Kava Kava (Piper Methysticum), A Natural Medicine

kava kava, piper methysticum

kava kava, piper methysticum

Kava Kava is a plant that grows mainly in the South Pacific, and the root of this plant can be used for medicinal purposes.

Kava Kava in the South Pacific

Kava Kava was named Captain Cook, an explorer who chose the name because it means ‘intoxicating pepper’. However, he didn’t discover the plant, and Pacific Islanders have been using Kava for thousands of years. In fact, it is still used today in the South Pacific as a  social drink, similar to alcohol. Pacific Islanders also use Kava in many ceremonies and rituals.

What Can Kava Kava Be Used For?

There are many different ailments that can benefit from the use of Kava Kava. It is used most often to calm anxiety, relieve stress, ease restlessness, and for insomnia. But it can also be used to treat depression, migraines, CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome), epilepsy, psychosis, muscle pain, the common cold, and respiratory tract infections. Some people claim that it can even help prevent cancer.

People have used Kava Kava to treat venereal disease, menstrual discomfort, urinary tract infections, and to enhance sexual arousal. It has also been used as a topical medication to promote wound healing, as a painkiller, and to treat skin diseases such as leprosy, and used as a mouthwash to relieve toothache and canker sores. As you can see, Kava Kava has many different medicinal uses, but there are also safety concerns regarding this plant.

Safety Concerns

Kava Kava use has been related to many cases of liver damage, and even a few deaths. As a result of this, Kava Kavaa is banned from many countries, including; Germany, Switzerland, and Canada, and many other countries are considering banning products containing Kava Kava.

Is it Effective?

There have been many studies related to Kava Kava to find out how well it works for different illnesses.

Menopausal anxiety

Studies have shown that Kava Kava can improve menopausal anxiety in as little as one week.

Reducing withdrawal symptoms

If you are trying to stop taking prescription anti-anxiety or sleep medications, increasing the dose of Kava Kava, while reducing the dose of prescription medications within a week, seems to work for many people.


Tests have shown that certain Kava extracts can lower anxiety, and may even work as well as many prescription anti-anxiety medications known as low does benzodiazepines. However, it can take up to eight weeks before you see any improvement.

Cancer Prevention

There is some evidence that taking Kava Kava might help prevent cancer, but it is something that needs to be tested more extensively.


Many people claim that Kava Kava can help with insomnia; however, research has shown that it is not as effective as many other supplements.

Social Anxiety

Research has shown that Kava Kava may be effective in helping people who suffer with social anxiety to relax.

How Does It Work?

Kava Kava works by affecting parts of the central nervous system, and the brain. People believe that it is the kava-lactones in Kava Kava that cause these effects.