Kava Kava has been an important part of various ceremonies and rituals amongst the South Pacific cultures for thousands of years, and has both a cultural and recreational significance there. Medicinally, it is used to promote relaxation, reduce stress and increase mental activity. It is also used by mothers to calm difficult children and put babies to sleep.
In the late 1700s, returning from an exploratory voyage to the South Pacific Islands, Captain James Cook introduced this calming herb to the Western world. He is also credited with giving the botanical name ''piper methysticum'', directly translated to "intoxicating pepper".
Kava is a shrub native to the South Pacific Islands and related to the black pepper family. Its real home these days is the island of Vanuatu, which has the largest cultivation of Kava. With its high humidity and rainfall it has the ideal climate.
The active ingredients, named Kavalactones, are responsible for affecting the brain's numerous transmitters such as serotonin and dopamine. In recent studies, Kava has proven to be a non-addictive alternative remedy for depression and anxiety.
Kava is also very effective for stress related insomnia. After taking Kava, many insomniacs report falling asleep within 30 minutes! Additionally, the type of sleep that they get is higher quality REM sleep. For those who haven’t had a good night’s sleep or a dream in years, Kava is a great solution.
Although Kava is not recognized by the FDA for its medicinal values, it has many adherents in European and North American herbology. Its medicinal effects may also be broader than first thought - one recent Scottish study found that Kava inhibited the growth of ovarian cancer and leukemia, while leaving healthy cells intact.
In addition, Kava is used as a pain reliever by some herbologists, who consider it just as effective as aspirin, acetaminophen and ibuprofen.
Kava Kava is known in many circles as a legal drug, due to its ability to promote relaxed and euphoric feelings without undesirable effects the following day. This has of course led to some controversy amongst authorities, but the fact remains that it has been tried and tested for thousands of years now. Its cultural significance also prevents it from being banned.
This potent herb has gained tremendous popularity in the South Pacific as a drink for social occasions and after work. Users report that it loosens the tongue just like alcohol does, but with a much more calming and non-aggressive effect. And what’s the biggest bonus? No hangover! Kava leaves drinkers feeling refreshed and well the next morning.
There are a number of ways to consume Kava, and all of them are practiced in the South Pacific. The preparation is key, and the Kava can either be chewed, ground, or pounded to the correct consistency. The Kava is then mixed with water and strained through a small bag made from coconut tree fiber.
You don’t need to go to the South Pacific to find your Kava, although it might be nice! It is also readily available both in herbal stores and on the internet. Be sure to consult your doctor though about any conditions or medication that might react with Kava.