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Medicinal Benefits of Kava Kava (Piper methysticum)

Kava kava (medicinal name piper methysticum) is a root that is utilized in natural and holistic medical approaches. This root has been used for over 3,000 years to address various physical ailments, as well as conditions such as anxiety and depression.

Health Benefits of Kava Kava

Let’s explore the incredible medicinal benefits of this root. When looking for kava kava to incorporate into your life, be sure that it is of high quality (highest quality has a label of “WS 1490”), whether you use it in tincture, tea, capsule, or powdered form.

1. Anti-anxiety

Kava kava has powerful relaxing and soothing abilities, which helps to combat stress as well as feelings of anxiety and depression. One particular study has shown that test subjects had a measurable improvement in levels of anxiety after taking kava kava for just one week. The root is also taken by those that are prone to panic attacks as well as those that suffer from depression.

2. Pain Reducer

Kava kava is effective in relaxing the muscles and reducing pain. It is also used to treat pain associated with fibromyalgia as it soothes soreness and tenderness in the joints and muscles.

3. Urinary Tract Health

Kava kava has long been taken to both prevent and treat urinary tract infections. This root is a natural diuretic, which contributes to its effectiveness in preventing UTIs.

4. Improve Sleep

Not only is kava kava effectively used for treating insomnia, but it also improves the quality of one’s sleep. If you have trouble falling asleep at night and lay awake thinking about the problems of the day, utilize some kava to help quiet your mind and relax the body so you can drift off to sleep quickly.

5. Great for Weight-lifters

Kava kava helps the muscles repair themselves, which is crucial for heavy weightlifters. As mentioned above, it also helps soothe sore, achy muscles, ensuring that your body does not need excessive recovery time.

6. Improve Stroke Recovery

Strokes are serious business, and if you fall victim to one, it is important to do everything in your power to minimize the lasting damage. Kava kava can help with this, thanks to its ability to limit brain damage as well as its anticonvulsive properties.

7. Menopause Aid

One study tested the effect of kava kava on menopausal women and showed considerable improvement in symptoms. After just eight weeks of consuming kava kava on a regular basis, these women noticed a significant reduction in the occurrence and severity of hot flashes as well as mood swings.

If you’re wanting to try kava kava, be sure that whatever form you opt for, it is of the highest quality. You should only purchase items that contain at a minimum 30% of the active ingredient Kavalactones.

How to Use Kava kava

There are many ways to prepare this herb. The most common way to ingest it is through beverages that are pressed from fresh picked kava root, or drinks that are mixed from shredded, ground, or powdered root. Kava is available in capsules, tincture, and tea form as well, and may be taken in different strengths.

When you are brewing kava or making a drink with kava, be advised to use cold or lukewarm liquids. Never use hot liquids because the higher temperatures destroyed the main active ingredients in cava, known as kavalactones. These are the psychoactive components of the herb that provide the relaxing properties.

The most basic recipe is to add 2 to 4 tablespoons of kava powder to 1 cup of water. Add the kava and water mixture to a blender, and blend this on high for 3 to 4 minutes. Then, pour the mixture through a strainer like a cheesecloth or muslin bag and squeeze the liquid into a bowl or glass. Discard the pulp and enjoy the freshly made kava tea.

Caution

If using this root long term, it may cause nausea, stupor, reduced muscle control, difficulty in breathing, appetite loss, reddened eyes, and weight loss. Since kava affects the central nervous system, you should not take it if you are scheduled for surgery in the near future. This will aggravate effects of medications and anesthetics.

If you are taking medication for liver damage, avoid taking kava kava because long term consumption may result in liver diseases like hepatitis and cirrhosis. It may also affect the uterus, which makes it unsafe to be consumed by pregnant women.

References:

  • Warnecke, G. Neuro-vegetative Dystonia in the Female Climacteric. Studies on the Clinical Efficacy and tolerance of Kava Extract WS 1490. Forsch Med. 109: 120-122, 1991.>
  • Beaubrun G, Gray GE. A review of herbal medicines for psychiatric disorders. [review]. Psychiatr Serv. 2000;51(9):1130-1134.
  • Gyllenhaal C, Merritt SL, Peterson SD, et al. Efficacy and safety of herbal stimulants and sedatives in sleep disorders. Sleep Med Rev. 2000;4(2):1-24.
  • Boerner RJ, Sommer H, Berger W, et al. Kava-Kava extract LI 150 is as effective as Opipramol and Buspirone in Generalised Anxiety Disorder–an 8-week randomized, double-blind multi-centre clinical trial in 129 out-patients. Phytomedicine. 2003;10 Suppl 4:38-49.
  • Lehrl S. Clinical efficacy of kava extract WS 1490 in sleep disturbances associated with anxiety disorders. Results of a multicenter, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind clinical trial. J Affect Disord 2004;78(2):101-110.
  • Cagnacci A, Arangino S, Renzi A, et al. Kava-Kava administration reduces anxiety in perimenopausal women. Maturitas. 2003;44(2):103-109.
  • Kava kava rhizome (root). In: Blumenthal M, Goldberg A, Brinckman J, eds. Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs. Newton, MA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2000:221–225.
  • Teschke R, Gaus W, Loew D. Kava extracts: safety and risks including rare hepatotoxicity. Phytomedicine. 2003;10(5):440-446.

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