Native to the South Pacific islands, kava root was traditionally brewed into a drink for royalty. Over time it was taken medicinally to relieve anxiety, combat fatigue, alleviate weakness, and treat chills and colds. In the 1770s, it was introduced to explorer Captain James Cook, who in turn introduced it to Europe. Predominately used to relieve tension and anxiety, kava has been subjected to rigorous clinical trials and shown to be as powerful as prescription antianxiety drugs. Kava is consumed throughout the Pacific Ocean cultures of Polynesia, including Hawaii, Vanuatu, Melanesia and some parts of Micronesia for its sedating effects.
Obtaining and Using
Purchase kava from a reputable manufacturer and use formulations that contain only the dried powdered root. Trustworthy companies often Include a statement that they do not use any stem or leaf. Look for products sold as "aqueous' extracts (meaning water is used as a solvent, not acetone or alcohol).
Tea: Simmer 1 to 2 teaspoons root in 1 cup water for 10 minutes. Strain, drink 1 cup daily.
Extract: The dose used in clinical trials is 100 to 200 mg of root extract taken 3 times daily.
PrecautionsConsult a health care professional if you have liver problems, use alcohol, or take acetaminophen or prescription medications. See a doctor if symptoms develop that may signal liver problems, such as fatigue, abdominal pain, vomiting, dark urine, pale stools, or yellow eyes or skin. Use is not recommended in pregnant or nursing women and those under 18.
(Adapted from the National Geographic books and Wikipedia)