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Can the Kava Plant be Used for Anything?

Posted by Kava Sherpa on 10/6/2012


Before we begin, lets go over a quick history of the plant itself. The plant is actually in the pepper family and it's scientific name is, "Piper Methysticum". The plant itself is only known to grow naturally on the islands in the South Pacific. If you're looking to spot the plant, it's a small shrub typically with all green leaves. Traditionally, Kava is actually used for ceremonial drinks or medicinal remedies.


Over the years, the natives have learned that the root is the most valuable part of this plant. If you break down and ingest the root, it can be used to help deal with anxiety or insomnia. At this point in time, Kava has been made into drinks, tablets, pills, and even tea bags.


As more research has been carried out on the plant, people began to understand that it's actually possible to get intoxicated off of the Kava plant and is even known to sedate people. Due to this, rules are typically put in place in regards to the consumption of the plant or it's extract in much the same way as laws regard alcohol.


What Does Kava Actually Do?


As of now, not much is known about the plant other than that it effects neurotransmitters within the human body. These neurotransmitters actually carry the messages that are sent within our body, so with these being interrupted, balance, speech, and dexterity is hindered. The main component that actually affects the body is called kavalactones. This is produced within the root of the Kava plant and this is what actually causes the intoxication like behavior upon consumption.


What Does Science Show About the Kava Plant?


Up to this point, much of the research that's been carried out in regards to this plant is towards its ability to treat anxiety. The main goal of any substitute seeking to accomplish this, is to be able to relieve or distract the body from the stress and anxiety it feels it's experiencing and so far, the Kava plant seems to be promising in regards to its ability to do so.


One of the biggest studies was carried out back in 2003 and it tested the effects of the plant on 645 people who met the criteria for experiencing high levels of anxiety in their daily lives. After the test was carried out and compared to other substances that have been proven to relieve anxiety, a small positive effect was shown, but not as much as was hoped for.


Are there any Health Risks with Kava?


As with alcohol intake, Kava has been proven to negatively affect the liver, but these cases are rare thus-far. This being said, warnings have been issued by the FDA and there are even countries which have banned the plant in order to prevent damage to their inhabitants.


All this taken into consideration, clinical tests have been carried out in order to prove or disprove these results about the liver, but so far there's been no solid evidence that Kava itself has caused those issues. Most all of the cases where people have claimed Kava to have done the damage all have history of liver failure or complications in their family history.


Are there any Side Effects of Kava?


Depending on the person, there have been times where rashes and headaches have occurred. As expected, the feeling of a numb mouth and visual impairment have also occurred, much like the results of drinking alcohol. Instances where high usage of Kava have been implemented, more serious side effects have occurred, such as kidney damage, hindrance in muscle control, and even scaling of the skin and abnormalities within the bloodstream.


Please keep in mind that those with bleeding disorders should stay away from using Kava, because it's been proven to hinder the clotting of blood and even lower blood pressure to a degree. On a side note, those with Parkinson's disease or symptoms of the disease should also veer away from in-taking Kava or Kava substitutes, because it may actually increase the symptoms of the disease itself.


As with any medication or substance, you shouldn't use Kava when you're already taking other medications or using substances, because the mixing of the two can bring about unknown results that are potentially harmful to the human body. Also, keep in mind that it's been proven to have properties of a diuretic, so don't use it in combination with other diuretics because you may be faced with increased side effects of the combination.


The bottom line here is to remember to treat the use of the Kava plant with respect as you would any other substance or medication. Combining it with the use of anything else is unwise and isn't recommended for fear of harmful side effects that may take place. Please be sure to look into the local laws that regard Kava before seeking to obtain the plant.

 What are the Effects of Kava?
 The History Behind Kava Ceremonies
 Can the Kava Plant be Used for Anything?
 Recommended Kava Usage

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