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Piper methysticum


Stress, depression, sleep disorders (insomnia) ...


Composition :
100% Piper methysticum

Part used :

Kava (Piper methysticum), a crop native to the Western Pacific region (Polynesia, Hawaii, Melanesia, Vanuatu and parts of Micronesia), is a member of the Pepper family (Piperaceae). It is a shrub with heart-shaped leaves of roughly 20 cm (8in) in diameter which grows to a height of about 3 meters (10ft). Although the plant has flowers, it cannot reproduce sexually; cultivation is entirely done by propagation from stem cuttings. Depending oj maturity, the fruit is green, white or black. Cayenne is not related (Cayenne is of the Paprika genus in the Night Shades family).

The roots of the plant are used to produce a drink with sedative and anesthetic, even intoxicating properties. On the Fiji Islands, Kava is a traditional drink which is offered as a sign of friendship (the root is boiled in water or chewed and subsequently collected in a receptable, filtered and then offered to the guest). Amounts of 2 deciliters (approx. 7 fl oz) and more create a sense of wellbeing ; larger amounts cause sleep and excessive amounts cause excitement and aggression.

The active ingredients of Kava include kavain, kavalactones, methysticin, yangonin, dihydrokavain and dihydromethysticin. These substances have neurosedative, muscle and cramp relaxing, pain killing and anti-inflammatory properties; some people also experience mind altering and aphrosisiacal effects. The actual mechanism is not yet understood, but toxicological research has shown that consumption of Kava does not produc e any side effects. In fact, it can be used as an alternative to anti-depressant drugs (use should not exceed a period of 3 months, however). Kava also increases the effect of anesthetics (use approx. 5 days before surgery is recommended).

Note: In 2002, german authorities prohibited the sale of Kava products as a result of several cases of liver damage after use of Kava extract. Although no such cases are known with consumption of whole Kava, the decision was upheld in a review in 2007 (the only exception are homoeopathic products with a concentration of maximum D4). Other European countries have since followed suit.