Kava Kava - root from the South Sea

Kava Kava is a plant extract from the South Seas. Also known as Rauschpfeffer, Kava Kava (Kawa Kawa) is a proven remedy for many Aborigines. The effect of kava kava is very similar to valerian: it has a calming effect and triggers anxiety. From 2002 to 2015, Kava Kava was largely banned because of difficult-to-predict and sometimes severe side effects. Meanwhile, it is again used as a relaxant, but with tightened instructions for use.

What is Kava Kava?

Kava Kava is the extract from the root of a plant called Piper methysticum, which is native to the South Seas region. Kava Kava is a shrub that grows up to several meters high and has a juicy root. For 3000 years Kava Kava has been used as a natural relaxant. Sometimes called Cava Cava, it is still part of traditional and mostly religious rituals in many tribes.

Mainly men drink the powder of Kava Kava root as a drink to relax and loosen up the muscles. The calming effect of the Cava Cava is designed to promote a restful sleep. To prepare this drink, the powder obtained from the roots of the kava kava plant is infused with water or alcohol. The extract can also be obtained by chewing the fresh root.

As a dietary supplement Kava Kava is usually available in Germany in the form of capsules. Kava Kava is not supposed to make it dependent. Occasionally, Kava Kava is used as a support in alcohol withdrawal treatment.

What is the effect of Kava Kava?

Unlike Badrian or St. John's Wort, Kava Kava has a depressant rather than a lightening and stimulating effect on mood. Kava Kava is mainly used as a mild psychodrug in anxiety.

The most common use Kava Kava is in anxiety, tension and restlessness and to improve the general condition. The kava kava root is said to have a calming, anxiolytic, muscle relaxant and antidepressant effect. South Sea peoples use Kava Kava chewed or grated primarily as a soothing drug with a relaxing effect.

Dosage and intake of Kava Kava

The actual effect of Kava Kava Root is attributed to the Kava Pyron. These are contained in the rhizome and are composed of oxygen-containing compounds. The only disadvantage of the Kava-Pyrone and reason for the long unexplored effect is their hardly water-soluble property. For this reason, natural kava kava preparations are made either in conjunction with ethanol and water or acetone and water.

Kava Kava should be taken for a maximum period of twelve weeks. The daily intake of 120 milligrams of Kava Kava is the recommended dosage, but with caution. Because Kava Kava should not be taken for example in liver diseases, during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.

The side effects of Kava Kava

As with many products, side effects can also occur with Kava Kava. The side effects often associated with taking Kava Kava are problems and damage to the liver. These also led to the controversial ban on Kava Kava. However, these side effects have never been proven. However, it is recommended not to take Kava Kava in existing liver diseases.

Other side effects may include mild gastrointestinal symptoms as well as redness, swelling, itching. When used properly, however, the side effects can usually be excluded as far as possible.

Problems with Kava Kava

Kava kava preparations were widely used and have long been considered to be hassle-free as no serious side effects were reported in clinical trials. However, reports of isolated cases of significant side effects, such as liver problems, accumulated in people who had taken Kava Kava supplements.

The side effects finally led in 2002 to a ban on Kava Kava, which was only lifted again in 2015. Since then, manufacturers have been able to resell Kava Kava products, with warnings regarding side effects. In addition, the instructions for use with regard to dosage and duration of use have been revised and expanded.

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