Introduction to Kava Kava (Piper
Kava Kava is also known
as "Awa" in Hawaii and "Yaqona" in Fiji. It is a legal herb with medicinal
and mild narcotic properties. After his voyage to the South Seas in 1768,
British explorer Captain James Cook first described for the Western world
the ritual use of the intoxicating drink prepared from the Kava plant. The
plant was named "Piper methysticum", or intoxicating pepper. Pacific
islanders have used Kava for thousands of years. Although Kava was important
for ceremonial occasions, the history of the South Pacific islands shows
that the use of Kava was not limited to such gatherings. Kava was also taken
before an ocean voyage and for ratification of agreements, and celebrations
of marriages and births as well as deaths. It was considered a drink of the
gods and was believed to cure illnesses and remove curses. In the 18th
century Kava was used in almost all facets of life on the islands. Sharing a
bowl of Kava fostered fellowship and socializing; it was unthinkable that
Kava would not be a part of any significant event.
Research shows that the
main active constituents in the root and rhizome (rootstock) are a group of
resinous compounds called kava lactones. In the South Pacific today, Kava is
served as a beverage, usually consumed at dusk before the evening meal
because islanders feel a full stomach can inhibit its effects. After
drinking, people typically eat smaller amounts of food because Kava tends to
decrease the appetite. And while some islanders have described the taste of
Kava as cool and refreshing, most who taste it find it has a bitter flavor
with a temporary numbing effect on the tongue and inside of the mouth.
A few cupfuls of Kava
will give an euphoric state of short duration characterized by tranquility
and friendliness. This unique herb is used:
Kava wakes you up, and,
at the same time, it calms you down, allowing you to increase productivity
while reducing stress. It causes a deep sleep with no hangover, and it
leaves the mind clear. It can also be chewed and kept in the mouth for the
temporary relief of toothaches. It is legal, safe, and truly a remedy for the
stress filled world of today. Kava is available as a whole root and powder.
Kava lactones are insoluble in water and are destroyed by heat. Ideally the
herb should be first powdered and then mixed into COLD water for a few
minutes. It must then be carefully squeezed through a cloth (cheesecloth
works well) to release the active ingredients from the root stock fiber.
When using Kava for the
first time, a teaspoon or two is used, mixed with a glass of your
favorite juice or fruit smoothie (or prepare in the traditional method,
stated above). It can be increased to up to one to two tablespoons, according to
preference. Kava is a pure, natural root product, and its effect on you can
depend on many things: your size, metabolism rate, and even your mood at the
time. To promote a deep restful sleep one could take a small amount
approximately 20 or 30 minutes before retiring.
Always check with your
physician or pharmacist before combining with any prescription or
over-the-counter drugs or medicines. It is not recommended to consume Kava
if you are pregnant or nursing, or in combination with alcohol.
Since it is a relaxant, do not use it
while operating heavy machinery or driving a vehicle.
Moderate use as described has not shown any harmful reactions. The only
shown side effect is that a dry, scaliness of the skin may occur with
overuse, over a long period of time (for instance, when the islanders drink
several bowls of Kava a day, for years and years). And this condition
disappears as soon as they stop drinking their Kava. It is also clear that
when Fijians overdo their nightly Kava ritual, they can tend to be a bit
sluggish in the morning. Recently there have been reports from Europe of
possible liver complications when using Kava. These reports have not been
substantiated, but for this reason we recommend that people with liver
problems do not use Kava Kava.
Mazatec Garden describes the common
uses of many herbs. This is for informational purposes only, as we are not
advising or prescribing herbs for any specific medical condition or for any
specific use. Distribute this information freely.
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