Kava Kava Root, Tea, and Extract Benefits


This herb is considered beneficial for:

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Kava Kava

Kava Kava A tall tropical shrub produces the Kava-Kava root. The plant is characterized by big leaves shaped like hearts that fill the branches. Flowers blossom on the plant where the branches join with the stems.

The Kava root is primarily used to fight anxiety disorders and to relieve anxiety related to stress. Low doses of Kava improve activity and awareness. Large doses can cause drowsiness. Medical specialists often prescribe kava to treat stiffness, insomnia, pain, jet lag, uncontrolled epilepsy, and anxiety. From animal testing, researchers found that the Kava-Kava root contains chemicals known as kavapyrones that enable muscle relaxation by reducing convulsions. They also found that kavpyrones also cause similar reactions in the brain to those caused by commercial drugs used to treat anxiety and depression. Direct use of kava in the mouth results in intense numbing caused by kavalactones found in the plant.

Unlike commercial drugs to treat anxiety, the lactones in kava do not have negative effects on heart rate, thinking ability, breathing, or blood pressure. Kava does alter the amount of neurotransmitters in the blood. This is because kava stops re-absorption of the neurotransmitter norepinephrine. Higher blood levels of norepinephrine can aid in relaxation and lessen anxiety. Kava also increases the number of attachment sites for gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA), another neurotransmitter. An increased number of GABA sites can increase GABA activity resulting in sedation. An additional explanation for kava’s helpful results could be chemicals in the plant work to stop monoamine oxidase-B (MAO-B), an enzyme, from affecting levels of dopamine, another neurotransmitter. However, this process is highly unpredictable. MAO-B and dopamine both have separate functions on the body’s emotional stability, but the precise effects of kava-kava are still indefinite.

Dosage and Administration

Kava supplementations should have standardized kavalactone content. 70 mg of standardized kava extract can be take three times daily for a total of 210 mg. One 210 mg dose can be used for insomnia. A dose of 2-4 g as decoction can be taken to treat stress, insomnia, and anxiety as many as three times a day. The decoction of made by boiling the herb in water.

Precautions and Side Effects

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned in March of 2002 that kava can cause liver damage. Those individuals on liver-compromising medications or with liver diseases should consult a physician before taking kava.

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