Kava (Piper methysticum)

The plant known as Piper methysticum is native to the South Sea Islands. It has thousands of years of ceremonial use. It has been a traditional beverage, and to create it, one must first ground the roots into a paste. The Polynesian word "awa" (meaning bitter) is the source of the common term "kava kava" for this herb. This plant's roots are a rich source of minerals, carbohydrates, dietary fiber, water, proteins, and kavalactones, among other chemical components.

To extract the compounds from Piper methysticum, the root is pulverized, dried, or chewed. It is then immediately submerged in water to capture the kavalactones in their starchy shell. To achieve the best results, they are mixed with water and consumed as soon as feasible. This decoction has numerous health benefits.

Botanical Description

With heart-shaped leaves and a woody stalk, it is a tropical evergreen shrub. The shrub grows to be around 6 feet tall and has a growth habit like bamboo. The portion of this plant that is advised for use in medicine is the root; it belongs to the Piperaceae family of pepper plants. The root of this plant has a flavor that is a little pungent, bitter, and astringent, and it smells nice and faintly liliac. This plant has alternating, cordate leaves with a wavy edge. The petiole, which has linear and upright stipules, is about an inch long and dilated at the base. The veins are noticeable and separate from the leaf blade's base. Little blooms are shown on thin stems.

The active components that support kava's pharmacological effects are called kava lactones. It has many active ingredients, including kava lactones. Studies have shown that the lactones in kava have strong analgesic and anesthetic properties.

Other Names

Ava Pepper, Kawa Pepper, Tonga, Intoxicating Pepper, Intoxicating Long Pepper

Pharmacological Importance

The kava extract's two main active chemical classes are chalcones and kaval pyrones. Kaval pyrones, which include dihydromethysticin, kavain, and methysticin, among others, have a calming and relaxing impact on the muscles. Chalcones with antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant qualities, namely flavokawain A, B, and C, inhibit the proliferation of cancer cells.

The effects of kava tea, capsules, and other preparations are often milder than those of the powder and tincture made from this herb.


6 grams per day.

Health Benefits of Kava

The root is suggested for treating potent catarrhal diseases in multiple organs, chronic bladder neck inflammation, gout, rheumatism, bronchitis, and gonorrhea. The amount consumed determines how different its roots are in operation. It has both stimulant and tonic properties when taken in modest amounts, but large doses lead to drunkenness.

  1. Aids Anxiety

The herb kava is used to relieve anxiety and is well-known for treating sleep issues like insomnia. There is no indication of reliance while using it for anxiety. In addition, it's used to treat depression, psychosis, migraines, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), withdrawal from benzodiazepines, and more.

The root extracts and decoctions can keep the body and mind feeling peaceful and content by controlling the hormonal imbalance in the body, which eases the flow of stress hormones into the bloodstream.

  1. For Skin Disorders

Applying this herb externally can help treat skin conditions like leprosy, canker sores, wounds, and wound healing.

  1. Gonorrhoea

Other uses for piper methysticum plant include treating sub-acute gonorrhea, bladder catarrah, nephritis with dropsy, lessening frequent urination, and soothing burning sensations during micturition. This plant's diuretic effect is caused by the neutral crystalline principle, also known as methysticin or kavain.

  1. Pain Relief and Muscle Spasms

This plant's root possesses analgesic and anti-inflammatory qualities. Owing to these qualities, this root's decoction can be used to cure injuries of any kind, including arthritis.

  1. Headache

Kava roots also provide immediate relief and have been demonstrated to be effective against migraines and headaches.

  1. For Quitting Smoking

This plant's roots are a helpful tool for quitting drugs, alcohol, and smoking since they may assist in reducing cravings. Its roots are prepared and used to soothe and relax the nerves.

  1. Stomach Problems

When used as medicine, it stimulates the stomach in a way similar to bitter stimulants, increasing hunger without occasionally resulting in diarrhea or constipation and avoiding catarrhal affections of this digestive tract region.


  • Due to its potential to harm the liver, this herb may not be safe to consume orally. Instead of just using the peeled root, kava products may also contain peelings from the roots and stems, which could be toxic to the liver.
  • Taking kava right before driving is not safe.
  • This herb is not recommended for ingestion by pregnant or nursing mothers.
  • This herb may intensify the effects of anesthesia and other drugs used during and after surgery because it disrupts the neurological system. It should therefore end at least two weeks before the planned procedure.
  • Because kava roots are already highly strong, don't mix them with alcohol.
  • In several nations, it is illegal or forbidden to use this herb.

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