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What is Kava Kava?

Kava
The kava plant (Piper methysticum) is a member of the pepper family, and is widely cultivated throughout the Pacific Islands. Kava is a hardy perennial which reach up to 3 to 4 metres. It is believed to originate from Melanesia, and grow well in the sun-drenched islands of Polynesia.

Alternative Names:
Piper methysticum, Waka, Kawa, Awa, Lawena, Sakau, Yaqona.

Kava kava has been used for a wide variety of ailments ranging from asthma and rheumatism to weary muscles and sleeplessness. The main active components in Kava Kava (kavalactones) are found in the root of the plant. Kavalactones are thought to affect levels of neurotransmitters in the blood which can affect the body's fight-or-flight response. While Kava root was traditionally chewed or made into a beverage, it is now primarily taken as a natural anxiety remedy in capsule, tablet, beverage, tea and liquid extract forms.

Kava is effective for treating malady such as cramps & migraine headaches and but best of all, it keeps the mind active as the body relaxes. Based on many European randomized controlled trials, kava apperats to be efficacious for mild anxiety or stress. The relative efficacy of kava compared to usual doses of pharmaceutical anxiolyric drugs is not known.

Benefits & uses:
Kava Kava has become a popular natural anxiety remedy due to its ability to induce a state of relaxation without impairing mental functioning, memory or alertness. It also does not produce tolerance or dependence unlike many anxiety medications such as Xanax and Valium. Clinical trials have shown Kava Kava to be as effective as many popular anxiety remedies. In addition, Kava root has been shown to improve mood, well-being, and drive and even improve mental functions.

Usage by South Pacific Islanders:
kava extracts are commonly used as an herbal product in North America for anxiety, stress, tension, and insomnia. A mildly psychoactive beverage made from the rhizome of the kava plant has been used for centuries by South Pacific Islanders, both ceremonially and socially, reportedly with relaxing or calming properties.

As a pain reliever:
Kava is a wonderful medication that eliminates pain, but its modus operandi as a pain reliever has yet to be determined . Kava is an effective muscle relaxant and can make the pain of an aching back, a sore neck, or any other cramped, sore, or injured muscle disappear. Product containing the herbal composition of kava are promoted for abate stress, anxiety, tension & efficacious for sleeplessness, menopausal symptoms and other uses.

As a tea:
Its tea made from kava powder can used to make tinctures to use as drops either directly on the tongue or mixed in with beverages, or packed into capsules for easy intake. It has also been used as a remediation for fight fatigue, as well as to treat asthma and urinary tract infections.

Side Effects:
Excess or continual use of kava supllemnts may result in scaly, yellowed skin. In few cases kava has been reported to produce severe liver toxicity, including hepatitis and liver failure in some people who have used dietary supplements containing kava extract. It has been associated with many cases of abnormal tonicity of muscle.

Kava appears to be well tolerated at prescribed therapeutic doses, but there is potential for advrser effects with higher than recommended doses and for drug ractions. Rare, serious reactions such as hepatitis may occur,would the herb should not be used in patients with liver disease.

It would be prudent for patients susceptible to extrapyramidal side effects such as those with Parkinson's disease or those using drugs such as antipsychotics or metoclopramide, to avoid kava until interactions have been more clearly defined. Likewise, kava should not be mixed with CNS depressants such as benzodazepiness or alcohol.

Side effects of the standardized preparalions were rare and mild in the controlled trials. There were isolated reports of stomach complaints, restlessness, drowsiness, tremar, and headache. Gastrointestinal discomfort, headache, dizziness, and allergic skin reactions have been reported in 2.3% of patients in open trials.

Dosage:
The usual prescribed dose of kava is 140 to 250 mg daily of the kava pyrone constituents, in 2 to 3 divided doses. In European studies, the most common dose was 70 mg t.i.d. (210 mg daily), but ranged from 60 to 210 mg daily . In U.S. brands kava pyrone content usually varies between 30% and 55%. Kava extracts are commonly available in capsules, tablets, and liquid forms.

Drug Interactions:
There is limited data on drug interactions with kava. Severe disorientation has been reported in a patient using a U.S. kava product in conjunction with alprazolam, cimetidine, and terazosin; whether his symptoms were actually due to a drug­herb interaction is unknown.

Therapeutic doses of a European kava preparation reportedly did not affect safety-related perfor­mance when administered with alcohol, but a liquid kava preparation did potentiate the CNS-depressant properties of alcohol in a separate study.

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