Kava Kava: An Ancient Herb For Stress And Anxiety

Kava Kava: An Ancient Herb For Stress And Anxiety

Kava kava or sometimes-called just kava belongs to the nightshade family “Piperaceae”. It is native to Southern Pacific islands and is scientifically called Piper methysticum.

For hundreds of years, kava has been used to make a ceremonial drink which is famous in almost all parts of Pacific islands. It induces a state of mind, which frees it from all tensions and stress. In this way, we can say that kava is a natural relaxant drink.

kava kava

Recently, kava has received so much fame for its same relaxing and stress relieving properties. But, there are so many questions on its safety levels, which make people, hesitate to use it. To raise an opinion about kava, it is first required to know the details on it. Here in this article, the benefits and possible dangers of using kava will be explained.

What Is Kava?

Kava is basically a tropical evergreen shrub. It has heart-shaped leaves and a woody stem. The local areas of Pacific islands have a historic use of kava as a ceremonial and occasional drink. It is a symbol of joy and happiness and people like to drink it on social gatherings.

The major part of the shrub that has all these relaxing properties is the root. The traditional way to use kava is to chew the raw root and spit it out. But this practice was long given up and a drink with kava root extract became popular.

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Once the root is cleaned, ground and made a paste, this paste is mixed in water and consumed after straining. The active ingredients of kava are called kavalactones. They make up 3–20% of the dry weight of the kava root.

Kavalactones induce some extremely beneficial effects on the user’s body. in includes the following.

The most acknowledged benefit of kava is to reduce stress. It is not much clear that how do kavalactones do that but scientists assume that they affect the neurotransmitters in the brain. Neurotransmitters are chemicals that are naturally released from nerves communicate with each other.

kava kava

Can kava reduce stress and anxiety?

Anxiety is an extreme form of stress. All the stress-related disorder has now become common issues. The treatment for psychiatric disorders is usually through talk therapy, medications or both. The doctor, considering the health condition and severity of psychiatric disorder of the patient, makes the choice of medicines for stress.

These medicines are not safe for health and often brings long-term side effect. The only way to treat stress and stress-related issues is a natural treatment. It is great that we have herbs like kava to help us.

The first time when kava was studied for its prosperous effects was back in 1997. It’s been two decades and now we have come to a point where it is supported by thousands of user reviews for positive healing effects.

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The first-ever research on kava showed no side effects such as withdrawal or any dependency whereas these are so common in herbal agents, especially for anxiety. Another study on kava extract also tells the same. It suggests kava be a herbal alternative to stress-related medicines and antidepressants.

The research has been continued to the date. It is proven by a number of studies for its stress relieving property.

Kava is helpful for a peaceful sleep

Not getting enough sleep? Try kava for a peaceful sleep and reduced the chance of insomnia to hit you. Lacking standard hours of sleep can cause a number of medical issues. These include irregular blood pressure, stress, depression, diabetes, cancer and others.

That is why people tend to use medicines to induce a peaceful sleep. These medicines are similar to antidepressants and they are most likely to cause dependence after long-term use. If you switch to herbal alternatives of these medicines, kava is one of the best choices that people use.

kava kava

Due to the calming effects of kava, it works as a sleep inducer. It is even proven by research that kava is helpful to lower stress levels and insomnia. Basically, this sleep-inducing the effect of kava comes from its ability to reduce stress. Sometimes the sleeplessness is due to the stress. Once this stress is reduced, the person is able to sleep better.

The effects of kava on people suffering from insomnia, which is not induced by stress, are not known. The calmness of kava can make you drowsy. That is why it is not recommended to consume kava if you have to drive or attend a meeting.

How to consume kava?

Kava is now available in raw and commercial products form. You can select any of these, based on your personal preference. The common forms of kava are kava tea, kava capsules, kava powder, kava tincture or kava root.

  • Kava tea

Tea is the most favourite beverage in the world. Among all herbal teas, kava tea is slowly making its place for its potential benefits for stress. Kava tea is available as a part of herbal blends or separately.

You can brew it in the water like normal tea. Make sure that you use a product that mentioned the kavalactone content, as well as other ingredients. Do not use formulas that have proprietary blends added. It may lead you to overdose kava and hence put you for possible side effects.

kava kava

  • Kava tincture

A tincture is a liquid form of kava. It is available in small bottles with varied capacity and size. You can take this tincture out from a dropper and ad it into water or another recipe to enrich it with kava effects.

Kava tinctures are generally very powerful. Make sure that you are using only a little amount. Overdosing kava is most frequent when you are using the tincture. You may not be able to measure the right quantity. Try to use a product that you find convenient.

  • Kava Capsules

The safest and easiest way to enjoy the benefits of kava is by using kava capsules. It has no taste, no aroma and no risk of overdosing unless you do it on purpose. Each capsule of kava is defined for its said quantity. You can never go wrong in using a standard dose while using kava capsules. Also, they are super handy. You can take them anywhere with you.

How much dosage of kava is effective?

The experts believe that kava should be taken with extreme care as it may bring side effects if you overdose it. The standard dose of kava is no more than 250mg per day. A dose that works for most of the people is between 70 mg to 200 mg.

kava kava

Are there any side effects of kava?

The benefits of kava are proven by research but people are concerned to know its safety levels. Liver toxicity is one of the most common side effects, which often show up while using potent herbs. For kava, liver toxicity was also a side effect that was studied in early 2000. The FDA has warned about the possible risks of liver damage by kava later on.

Due to this, kava is restricted for its trade and usage in many parts of the world. In some countries, this ban was later on removed but it is still under observation.

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Kava can damage the liver and it can also interact with common medicines that people take in routine. For the safe use of kava, it is better to buy a genuine product and use it after consulting a doctor.

kava kava

Final thoughts on kava

Kava has historical evidence of usage for centuries. The whole South Pacific region uses it for stress relief and enjoyable experience. The root of kava plant is rich with compounds called kavalactones. These are generally safe for health but if you overdose it, they may bring long-term side effects.

It is better to consult your doctor if you are considering to use kava. It has high affinity to interact with medicines so beware if you are already on a daily medication. Buy it from a reputed source and remember to read the label. You should know how much kava you are consuming to avoid the otherwise side effects.

With these tips and tricks in mind, it is possible to enjoy the natural effects of kava, without falling for an unwanted side effect.



The author is a Medical Microbiologist and healthcare writer. She is a post-graduate of Medical Microbiology and Immunology. She covers all content on health and wellness including weight loss, nutrition, and general health. Twitter @Areeba94789300

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