Kava-Kava: Benefits, Side Effects, Dosage and How to Make It

Kava-kava is an herbal remedy that is often used to relieve stress, especially those who are tired of work. Maybe you just heard of this traditional medicine. Yes, indeed this drug is popular in the Pacific Islands, but in Indonesia has begun to exist. What herbal medicine is this actually? Read on to get information about the benefits, dosages, and side effects below!

What is Kava-Kava?

Kava-kava is a shrub that grows in the Pacific Islands. This herb, which has the scientific name Piper methysticum, is usually made from roots that are crushed and mixed with water, then filtered into drinks.

Drinking kava is believed to have a relaxing and calming effect. Even Pacific Islanders traditionally use kava plants in ceremonies to create an atmosphere of relaxation.

Although kava-kava in herbal form has a very low level of health risk, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), kava extract and supplements can cause liver toxicity if consumed in excess or on a sustainable basis.

Health Benefits of Kava-Kava

Kava is often used by most people in the South Pacific to relieve stress and anxiety and improve sleep quality.

Here are some of the benefits of kava-kava for health and disease prevention:

1. Reducing Anxiety

Most research shows that using cava plant extracts containing 70% cavalactone compounds can reduce anxiety and might work like some other anti-anxiety prescription drugs.

However, there is some inconsistent evidence. It is possible that treatment using this herbal remedy must last for a minimum of five weeks and that kava supplements containing at least 200 milligrams of cavalactone daily are needed to treat symptoms.

Keep in mind, kava might be more effective in people with severe anxiety disorders , female patients, or in younger patients.

2. Overcoming Insomnia

Kava-kava was first popular in the 1990s in the Pacific Islands as an herbal remedy for people who cannot sleep ( insomnia ) and experience anxiety. Insomnia is one of the problems that can trigger health problems. Therefore, plant-based herbs are sought after to help treat sleep disorders and insomnia, including kava plant roots.

According to a study at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry , six commonly used plant-based sleep therapies included caffeine, chamomile , cherries, cava, L-tryptophan, cannabis, and valerian root. Although no surprising results have been reported, drinks from kava have been known to have a sedative effect.

3. Relieves Pain

Arthritis can cause swelling and inflammation. These symptoms cause stiffness and pain that make the affected limb difficult to move. Arthritis can inhibit activities or ordinary tasks done.

These conditions can be treated using herbal medicines from kava plants. This is because kava has analgesic properties that can relieve pain for several hours.

4. Overcoming Menopause Symptoms

Symptoms of perimenopause and menopause include hot flashes , night sweats, insomnia, and increased anxiety and irritability. This condition can also be overcome using kava.

Kava-kava is effective in dealing with anxiety, depression, irritability, and insomnia in three clinical trials in 120 perimenopausal and menopausal women. This is because kava activates the GABA-A receptor, inhibits monoamine oxidase-B, and increases dopamine levels in the brain.

Even so, the evidence is not enough to claim that kava helps symptoms of menopausal mood and perimenopause. That is why further clinical testing is still needed.

5. Prevent Cancer

Cancer is a disease that is feared by many people because it results in death if it is not immediately handled properly. Various natural and alternative medicines that are currently available can help fight cancer cells. Some claim that one of them is kava.

Flavocavains in kava have been shown to reduce the growth of cancer cells in various types of cancer . Some researchers claim that flavocavains can inhibit the absorption of nutrients in tumors. Therefore, tumor cells cannot grow and eventually die.

Kava-Kava Side Effects

Although kava has several health benefits, this herbal medicine has several side effects that you should be aware of!

The following are some of the side effects of kava-kava if consumed long-term or in excess:

1. Damage to the Heart

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in March in 2002 has warned consumers and health professionals about the risk of liver damage associated with the use of kava. Case reports have linked kava with liver toxicity, including hepatitis, cirrhosis, liver failure, and even death.

Not a few of these cases were related to preexisting liver disease, excessive doses of kava-kava, and heavy alcohol use.

While WHO states that water-based kava drinks are safer, moderate to heavy consumption can significantly increase liver enzymes. WHO also warns that toxicity is related to the quality of raw kava root, root contamination during storage, and the use of other herbal medicines with kava.

2. Parkinson’s Disease

Taking herbal medicine from kava can possibly worsen Parkinson’s disease . So, don’t drink kava if you have this condition.

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive nervous system disorder that gradually deteriorates and can affect movement. Symptoms gradually begin with tremors (trembling) that are barely visible in only one hand.

3. Bad Impact on Surgery

The use of kava herbs can affect the central nervous system. It is possible to increase the effects of anesthesia and other drugs used during and after surgery.

If you regularly consume kava-kava, stop using it at least two weeks before a scheduled surgery.

4. Influence the uterus

Before using kava plants in any form, it is very important that you take every precaution.

If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or using any prescription drug, please avoid consuming kava and be sure to consult a doctor before taking it. It is feared that the use of kava can affect the uterus.

5. Concentration Problems

Using kava, especially in high doses, might make a person unable to drive a vehicle safely. That is why, do not use kava before planning to drive.

A study conducted at the University of Auckland’s School of Population Health in New Zealand reviewed published literature examining the relationship between kava use and motor vehicle accidents, related injuries, or concentration in driving.

Kava-Kava Dosage

The traditional use of kava is usually made from kava-kava root into a paste and mixing it with water or boiling it into a tea drink. This herbal medicine can be liquid and mixed with other drinks such as juice. Also available as tablets and capsules of kava powder.

Experts suggest that the daily intake of cava containing cavalactone compounds does not exceed 250 milligrams. However, the effective dose of kava is 70-250 milligrams.

Kava supplements usually include the amount of cavalactone in milligrams on the product packaging. If the content is in the package, you must count the amount of cavalactone it contains.

For example, if one capsule contains 100 milligrams of cava root extract and contains 30% cavalactone, the capsule will contain 30 milligrams of cavalactone (100 mg x 0.30 = 30 mg).

To reach an effective dose in the range of 70-250 milligrams of cavalactone, you need to take at least three capsules of this supplement. Most kava root extracts contain 30-70% cavalactone.

How to Make Tea or Drink from Kava-Kava

Traditional drinks from kava plants in the South Pacific are usually made from fresh roots, which are crushed before the water is filtered using cloth.

Fresh kava root is rarely available, for that you can make it from dried kava. How to make it, you need a thin cloth, tea strainer, and dry kava or powder.

Here’s how to make a 6-8 ounce glass of kava drink:

  • Put 1/4 to 1/3 cup of kava on a piece of cheesecloth. Tie it into a loose bundle with a piece of string.
  • Heat one glass of water until it is warm or lukewarm.
  • Put the bundles of kava in a cup and add with warm water.
  • Let the bundles soak and squeeze the bundles for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • After finishing, pour the liquid using a tea filter into a glass.
  • Enjoy a glass of kava drink while it’s warm.

That’s the benefit of kava, side effects to how to make kava tea that you can try. If you want to take this herbal medicine, you should first consult with your doctor about the medical conditions suffered, allergies, and the effectiveness of herbal medicines for you.

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