Kava Kava – root from the South Seas

Kava Kava is a plant extract from the South Seas. Also known there as intoxicating pepper, kava kava (kawa-kawa) is a proven remedy for many native people. The effect of kava kava is very similar to valerian: it has a calming effect and relieves anxiety. From 2002 to 2015, kava kava was mostly banned due to side effects that were difficult to calculate and sometimes severe. It is now being used again as a relaxant, albeit with tightened instructions for use.

What is Kava Kava?

Kava Kava is the extract from the root of a plant called Rauschpfeffer (Piper methysticum), which is native to the South Pacific region. Kava Kava is a shrub that grows up to several meters high and has juicy roots. Kava Kava has been used as a  natural relaxant  for 3000 years . Sometimes also called cava cava, it is still part of traditional and mostly religious rituals in many tribes today.

Mainly men drink the powder of the kava kava root as a drink to relax and loosen the muscles. The calming effect of cava cava is said to promote restful sleep. To prepare this drink, the powder obtained from the roots of the kava kava plant is infused with water or alcohol. The extract can also be obtained by chewing the fresh root.

As a  dietary supplement  , kava kava is usually available in Germany  in the form of capsules  . Kava Kava is said to be non-addictive. Occasionally, kava kava is used to support withdrawal treatments for alcohol addicts  .

What are the effects of kava kava?

Unlike Badrian or St. John’s wort, kava kava has a dampening effect on the mood instead of a brightening and stimulating one. Kava Kava is primarily used as a mild psychotropic drug for anxiety.

The most common use of kava kava is for anxiety, tension and restlessness and to improve general well-being. The kava kava root is said to have a calming,  anxiety  -relieving, muscle-relaxing and  antidepressant effect  . South Sea peoples chew or grind kava kava primarily as a soothing drug with a relaxing effect.

Dosage and intake of Kava Kava

The actual effect of the kava kava root can be  attributed to the kava pyrones. These are contained in the rootstock and are made up of oxygen-containing compounds. The only disadvantage of kava pyrones and the reason for the long unexplored effect is their hardly water-soluble property. For this reason, natural Kava Kava preparations are made in conjunction with either ethanol and water or acetone and water.

Kava Kava should be taken for a maximum period of twelve weeks. The daily intake of 120 milligrams of kava kava is considered the  recommended dosage , but this should be taken with caution. For example, kava kava should not be taken in the case of  liver diseases , during  pregnancy  or while breastfeeding.

The Side Effects of Kava Kava

As with many products, side effects can also occur with kava kava. The side effects often associated with taking kava kava are  problems and damage to the liver.  These also led to the controversial ban on kava kava. However, these side effects have never been proven. However, it is recommended not to take Kava Kava if you have liver disease.

Other side effects can manifest themselves in the form of slight  gastrointestinal complaints  as well as reddening of the skin, swelling and  itching  . With proper use, however, the side effects can usually be largely ruled out.

Problems with kava kava

Kava Kava preparations were widespread and were considered problem-free for a long time, since no serious side effects were recorded in clinical studies. However, reports of isolated cases of significant side effects, such as liver problems, occurring in people who had taken kava kava preparations were piling up.

The side effects finally led to a  ban on kava kava in 2002,  which was only lifted again in 2015. Since then, manufacturers have been allowed to resell kava kava products with warnings about side effects. In addition, the instructions for use regarding dosage and duration of use have been revised and expanded.


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