Kava Kava (Piper Methysticum) and Pacific Islander Life

kava kava pacific islander

kava kava pacific islander

Kava Kava (Piper Methysticum) is a tall shrub used for medicinal purposes, that grows mainly in the Pacific Islands. In Aboriginal tribes, it is known as grog, in Fiji, yaquona, and in Hawaii, awaj. The plant produces large green, heart- shaped leaves, and long slender flowers. The roots resemble bundles of hairy, woody branches, and it is these roots that are used medicinally.

Medicinal Uses


Too much Kava Kava can cause liver damage, so you should consult your doctor before using it, and only use it in moderation. When used properly, Kava Kava can be used medicinally for a variety of health problems, including;


Evidence has shown that Kava Kava can help decrease the time it takes to fall asleep, and improve sleep quality. However, because of the health risks involved, and the fact that there are other herbs that can treat insomnia, Kava Kava may not be the best choice.


There have been many clinical studies related to Kava Kava and anxiety, and most have found that it can be an effective treatment when used in moderation. One study found that Kava improved anxiety symptoms in as little as one week, and other studies have shown it to be as effective as many prescription anti-anxiety medications. Studies have shown that Kava, and Valuim (diazepam), a prescription medication, can cause similar changes in brain wave activity, showing that they may work in similar ways to help calm the mind.

How Does It Work?

Kava Kava roots contain active ingredients called Kavalactones (Kavapyrones), and these chemicals, which include Methysticum, Dihydrokawain, and Kawain, have been tested in both laboratory and animal studies. In tests, they have shown to promote sleep, relax muscles, and reduce convulsions, and it is also believed that they have pain relieving properties, which is why chewing Kava Kava roots can cause a tingling and numbing sensation.

Forms of Kava Kava

In many parts of the world, particularly where Kava Kava grows, whole roots are chewed, but it is also available as a tincture or extract, and in pill or capsule form.

How Should It Be Taken?

Because Kava Kava can cause liver damage, you should consult your doctor before taking it, and make sure that you have regular tests to make sure that your liver remains healthy. If you already have liver damage or a liver disease such as hepatitis or cirrhosis, you should not take it at all. Kava Kava is available in many forms, tablets and capsules, or liquid drops and dried extracts, or you could simmer the roots in hot water and make a tea.


Kava Kava should never be given to children under any circumstances.


With regular monitoring by your health care provider, Kava Kava should be taken for short amounts of time, no longer than three months, and with a two week resting period between courses.

If you experience symptoms such as yellowing of the skin, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, joint pain, or fatigue, you should stop taking Kava Kava immediately and consult your doctor.



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