Kava is used as an effective natural herbal remedy that may help reduce anxiety, stress, and muscle tensions, promote friendliness and sociability, and produce relaxing physical as well as mental sensations. Its effects can be described as ranging from mildly sedating to mildly intoxicating, depending on the dose.
Common Use: Primarily used as a natural sedative and sleep enhancement. Herbalists have traditionally used it as a remedy for nervousness and insomnia. It is an effective relaxant able to induce a feeling of relaxation, peace and contentment, along with a sharpening of the senses. As a sleep aid it promotes deep and restful sleep. It is also a muscle relaxant that can help relieve cramping due to spasms.
This herb, a member of the pepper family, grows as a bush in the South Pacific. Explorer Captain James Cook, who gave this plant the botanical name of "intoxicating pepper", first discovered kava kava. It has been used for over 3,000 years for its medicinal effects as a sedative, muscle relaxant, diuretic, and as a remedy for nervousness and insomnia.
The botanical has been used in parts of the Pacific at traditional social gatherings as a relaxant and in cultural and religious ceremonies to achieve a higher level of consciousness. The roots can be made into a mildly narcotic beverage that is comparable to popular cocktails in our culture. In Germany, it is used as a nonprescription drug to reduce anxiety. It was first mentioned in scientific records in 1886, and it is gaining popularity in the US for its relaxing effects.
More recently, it has gained popularity with the natives of Hawaii, Australia and New Guinea where it is used medicinally as well as recreationally. It is effective as a pain reliever and can be used instead of aspirin, acetaminophen and ibuprofen.
Recent clinical studies have shown that it is a safe non-addictive anti-anxiety medicine, and as effective as prescription anxiety agents containing benzodiazepines such as valium. While benzodiazepines tend to promote lethargy and mental impairment, kava has been shown to improve concentration, memory, and reaction time for people suffering from anxiety. It has been clinically demonstrated as a means of achieving a state of relaxation without the adverse side effects.
Usage Warnings: Not for use by persons under the age of 18. If pregnant, nursing or taking a prescription drug, consult a health care practitioner prior to use. Do not exceed recommended dose. Excessive consumption may impair ability to drive or operate heavy equipment. Persons who have liver disease or liver problems, or persons who are taking drug products that can affect the liver, should consult a physician before using kava-containing supplements. Consumers who use a kava-containing dietary supplement and who experience signs of illness associated with liver disease should also consult their physician. Symptoms of serious liver disease may include jaundice (yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes) and brown urine. Non-specific symptoms of liver disease may include nausea, vomiting, light-colored stools, unusual tiredness, weakness, stomach or abdominal pain, and loss of appetite.
Click here for complete information about the FDA Advisory on the use of Kava.