Kava-Kava: The divine pepper
Kava-Kava belongs to the peppers and has it all. In its native region of Polynesia, the plant is sacred. Piper methysticum is used in almost every important ritual and is taken by the entire village. Mostly as an extract of the barkless root. The ritual helps to bring the gods and souls of the ancestors into the center of the community. Phytotherapeutic use today is limited to its psychotherapeutic indications. Especially for the treatment of anxiety, insomnia, mild depression and related stomach problems, kava-kava is still used today, although mostly homeopathically or as a spagyric remedy.
Kava kava facts
Did you know that...
... kava kava has been used in the Pacific islands for 3000 years?
... the Dutchmen Jacob Le Maire and Willem Schouten were the first to report the plant in Europe?
...Kava-Kava is a trendy drink in the USA and is often drunk to relax?
What is kava kava?
Kava-Kava is a perennial shrub up to 4m in height. Its branches stand out for being very knotty. The leaves grow up to 20cm, are heart-shaped, dark green and usually slightly hairy. Its home is the South Seas. Where exactly it comes from is not really clear. Its popularity grew quickly and so the knowledge about this extraordinary plant spread quickly over Australia, Hawaii and USA. In the South Seas, kava has a firm place in society. Almost no festival is celebrated without kava. It is usually served and drunk to this day as a brown, bitter-tasting liquid in coconut shells, made from the roots of the plant. The rootstock of the plant is also the most remarkable thing. It is enormous, weighing up to 10kg and very juicy. The active ingredients are all contained here.
General and healing properties of kava kava
The basic knowledge
Kava kava is calming. Due to its effect in the central nervous system, it calms for a long time. However, it is not an acute remedy. The optimal effect can be expected after a few weeks of use.
Piper methysticum has a relaxing effect. Internal as well as muscular tension fall away after some time of ingestion. The body shuts down, the muscles soften and stress disappears.
Kava is sleep-inducing. Often people can not sleep chronically, because their basic tension is simply too high. This is often a result of prolonged stress. Kava reduces this stress effect and thus promotes both falling asleep and sleeping through the night.
Kava-Kava is the most powerful phytotherapeutic agent against anxiety. Its anti-anxiety effects have been proven in many studies. However, it should also be said that kava-kava is not an acute remedy. You have to take it for a few weeks to notice significant effects.
Kava is euphoric and mood-enhancing. After drinking intoxicating pepper, people talk more, are more relaxed, laugh and are in a good mood.
Piper methysticum: Ingredients
The greatest and safest active ingredient content is in the roots. Traditionally, the plant is dug up, the rhizome harvested, dried and ground if necessary. You will find the following ingredients in kava kava:
- Kavalactone like Kawain
- Di-Hydro Cavain
- Piperidine alkaloids (in leaves)
- Essential oils
- Yangonin and desmethoxy-yangonin (roots and bark)
Kava kava: effect for body and mind
Kava-Kava is a ritual plant in its native region. However, its intoxication does not befuddle the senses and one retains a clear perception. Piper methysticum is strongly anxiety-relieving and relaxing. Some compare its effect to that of benzodiazipines, except that Piper is said to have no strong side effects in the immediate aftermath. Among the plants, kava kava is considered to be the plant with the strongest anti-anxiety effect. The relaxing effect of kava does not only take place in the mental sphere, but also on the physical level kava is able to relax muscles. Kava can thus be used as an antispasmodic. However, kava is also exhilarating. The mood improves and relaxation prevails. Therefore, it is traditionally used in the South Seas during celebrations, holidays or even quarrels. In the USA, kava has gone through a real hype in the last years. There are now several hundred kava bars where kava is consumed in conjunction with parties. If you drink kava kava milk or simply chew the root, you will quickly notice that your tongue first becomes numb and remains so for some time. A local anesthetic effect is therefore known. However, kava is also used as an analgesic for rheumatic pain. The basically relaxing effect, which is caused in the CNS, is made responsible for the systemic, analgesic effect.
Kava kava properties
- Mood enhancing
- Anxiety Relief
- Stress Reducing
- Immune stimulating
Fields of application in naturopathy
Due to its central effectiveness, kava kava also has a wide range of applications to offer. Mostly it is contained today in homeopathic or spagyric form in mixed preparations. Taking it as a phytotherapeutic is currently difficult, as the BfArM has decided to withdraw the approval of Kava-Kava again in 2019. The criticism of this measure from professional circles is massive, and the dispute about Kava-Kava old.
Kava kava for anxiety and restlessness
The effect of Kava-Kava is described as similar to benzodiazipines. Due to its relaxing and anxiety-relieving effects on a physical as well as psychological level, anxiety and restlessness states decrease. There are also several clinical studies that clearly prove the effect. However, short-term results are not to be expected. In the studies Kava-Kava had to be taken for about one week to feel the first effects. After about 4 weeks the maximum effect was reached. The great advantage of Kava-Kava is that it works well, but does not cause any dependency.
Kava kava for stress
Stress has many faces, as its effect can be seen throughout the body via the CNS. Kava-Kava is directly effective in the CNS, reduces stress and leads to a generalized relaxation of body and mind. Since in modern society stress is responsible for many diseases and has a negative influence on the course of diseases, Kava-Kava is an important tool of our time.
Kava kava for the immune system
An overstimulated sympathetic nervous system also always means an activated stress hormone cascade of the adrenal cortex. The adrenal gland secretes adrenaline and cortisol. The adrenaline makes us nervous and ready to conduct. The cortisol inhibits inflammation, raises blood sugar levels so we have energy, and inhibits the immune system. This makes us more susceptible to infections and more likely to get sick. Kava-Kava calms the nervous system and subsequently the adrenal glands. Cortisol decreases and our immune system is free to do its work again.
Piper methysticum for headaches
Many patients suffer from tension-related headache. Kava-Kava has a basically relaxing effect on the body and the central nervous system. In folk medicine, it is said that kava kava has an analgesic effect. In the South Seas, kava kava is therefore traditionally used for pain of any kind, including headaches.
Kava kava for sleep problems
Since Kava-Kava has a lasting relaxing effect, it also promotes sleep. The most common cause of difficulty falling asleep is the circling of thoughts and the fact that one cannot switch off. It is exactly this letting go that Kava-Kava promotes and thus helps to find sleep better. In addition, Kava relaxes to sustainable, that also the sleeping through works better.
Kava kava for heartburn
Stress is one of the most common causes of chronic heartburn. The permanent overstimulation of the sympathetic nervous system for an overstimulation of the stomach. The muscles of the stomach spasm and the cells of the stomach produce too much gastric acid. Kava-Kava and its contained kavalactones reduce the activity of the sympathetic nervous system so that the stomach is not further overstimulated by it and stops producing acid and spasming.
Notes on the use of kava kava
Basically, a daily dose of 60-120mg per day of kava pyrones was recommended. However, many patients overdosed due to the excellent effect. The result was some, rare cases of liver damage up to liver failure. Unfortunately, these side effects caused quite a stir and led German authorities to withdraw the medicinal plant from circulation as a phytotherapeutic. Currently, only homeopathics from D6 and spagyrics are in circulation. These are absolutely safe to use, but not as potent as the plant itself. It is important to note that the consumption of kava kava can alter the effectiveness of other psychotropic drugs. Therefore, one should definitely discuss the intake with the attending physician or alternative practitioner.
Kava-Kava during pregnancy and lactation
During pregnancy and lactation, the use of kava kava is not recommended, as there are no studies regarding effects on the child.
Kava kava for liver problems
Since kava kava has caused liver problems in some patients, strict caution is advised. It should only be taken under medical supervision. Screening of blood liver values is strongly recommended. Administered in homeopathic or spagyric form, the liver problem is not as prominent.
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