A Quick Guide to Kava

Over the past few years, countries in the west have been embracing an amazing natural root that has long been used in the Pacific — it’s called kava. Some people also know it by other names such as ava pepper, ava root, awa, and others. It’s an extract made from Piper methysticum, a plant that you find growing naturally in the islands of the western Pacific, especially Fiji.

Kava from the Pacific islands is often sold in a dehydrated form which can then be quickly and easily turned into drinks that people use to relieve them of stress, anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, and other conditions. The science isn’t fully concluded on kava and its medicinal properties, but many individual testimonies seem to provide some support that it can have a positive impact.

Use of Kava

In the Pacific islands, kava has for many years been enjoyed during cultural and religious ceremonies, and the people have long understood its properties as a mind-altering substance. Outsiders who tried it have remarked upon its relaxing, euphoric effect, which is why it was identified early on as a possible aid against anxiety and related issues.

Kava as an Anti-Anxiety Solution

There has been research in the past into the effects of kava on generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), where a group of 75 people was given either kava or a placebo to see if it had any effect. The results showed a small but still fairly meaningful difference in GAD patients and with minimal side effects.

The conclusion of much research is that kava presents great potential as a short-term option for treating anxiety disorders, and merits further research to see more exactly what kind of people might be helped. Let’s be clear, it’s not a miracle cure, but if it works as a safe alternative to hard medication, then it could be of great benefit to many people.

Kava as an Insomnia Solution

Just as is the case with anxiety, kava is not a miracle cure for insomnia. Research shows that it may not have any marked effect on those who suffer from the disorder to a very serious degree. What kava can do, however, is provide one with a calmer and more relaxed state of mind. This can at least help those who are losing sleep in the short term to work or family stress to have a better chance of a good night’s rest.

There’s no denying the relaxing and calming effect that kava can have, and that’s part of what makes it successful in countries like the US, and why in Europe and Canada it is being explored once again as a useful supplement.

How to Prepare and Use Kava

If you have a packet of dehydrated kava root, how does one prepare it into a usable form? One quick way of preparing is simply to add about 2-4 tablespoons of the dried kava to tepid water and then blend it together before squeezing it through a cloth. It can also be made using a special strainer bag.

At any rate, it’s a relatively simple preparation process and has been deemed safe by both the FDA in the United States and the HACCP here in Australia.

Are There Any Risks Associated with Kava Use?

Kava is known as an anxiolytic drug, which makes it similar to alcohol in that respect in terms of the calming and euphoric effect that it creates. Equally, excessive consumption over long time periods have been shown to bear a risk of liver damage in the same way that alcohol does. It can also impair one’s ability to drive or operate machinery, so these are things worth noting.