Kava Kava Root

Kava kava is an herbal remedy that some people use to relieve stress and anxiety and boost sleep. This plant extract has a calming, euphoric effect that some people compare with that of alcohol.

Kava kava, or simply kava, has a long history of use in alternative medicine and traditional ceremonies. More recently, it has found a place in some clinical research studies.

People traditionally mix kava kava with water or boil it into a tea, but it can also come as a tablet.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), kava kava has a mild anxiety-reducing effect, but it may also cause severe liver damage.

It is still legal to sell kava kava in the United States, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) suggest that people should use it with caution.

Many researchers still advocate for its use and aim to establish safer ways of taking kava kava.

This article will explore the uses, benefits, and safety of kava kava.

What is kava kava?
People use kava kava for its relaxing properties.
Kava kava comes from the Piper methysticum plant, which is native to islands of the Pacific Ocean. Traditionally, people made a paste from the plant’s root and mixed it with water or coconut milk to create a drink.

People native to the South Pacific islands use this kava kava drink during cultural and religious ceremonies to create a state of altered consciousness. People can also make powder or tablets from the dried roots.

Consuming kava has a relaxing, euphoric effect. Scientists call drugs that have this calming effect anxiolytic. Alcohol, which has similar effects to kava, is another anxiolytic drug.

These properties are why many use it as a recreational drug and a medicine, as it can help reduce stress and anxiety.

Uses and possible health benefits
People use kava kava to relieve anxiety and promote sleep. Below, we look at what the research says.

Anti-anxiety effects
The primary use of kava is reducing stress and anxiety. Research suggests that kava could help treat the symptoms of anxiety disorders.In a randomized controlled trial from 2013, scientists gave 75 people with anxiety disorders either kava extract or a placebo drug over 6 weeks.

At the end of the study, they found that kava had a small but significant effect on reducing anxiety symptoms. Aside from headaches, the participants did not report liver problems or other side effects.
Kava kava could help induce sleep due to its anxiolytic effects. For this reason, people also use it as an alternative therapy for sleep disorders.

Kava Kava is an herbal remedy that’s made from the roots of Piper methysticum — a type of plant found in the islands of the Pacific Ocean. Its name literally means “intoxicating pepper.” People who live on Pacific islands like Fiji and Tonga have used it for hundreds of years in social gatherings and traditional medicine. They dry out the roots or crush them into a powder. Then they add water and drink the mixture.

How’s It Used?
Kava kava (“kava” for short) contains substances called kavapyrones. They act much like alcohol on your brain, making you feel calm, relaxed, and happy. The plant is also thought to relieve pain, prevent seizures, and relax muscles.

You can buy it as an herbal supplement online and in health food stores. It’s available in capsules, tablets, or tinctures (that means it’s dissolved in alcohol).

Kava has been used to treat a number of conditions, including:

Anxiety — including generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
Trouble sleeping
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) — the physical and emotional symptoms that come before a woman’s period