Piper methysticum (kava or kava-kava) is a plant that is grown in the South Pacific Islands. The root is used to produce a drink with sedative and anti-anxiety properties that fans say is capable of inducing elation and mental clarity. For over 300 years, kava has been used in the islands for medicinal, religious, political, cultural and social purposes.
The plant thrives in the islands of Vanuatu, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Pohnpei, New Guinea and Hawaii. No one knows exactly where the kava plant originated from however, there is strong evidence to suggest that Vanuatu is its origin.
Captain James Cook was the first known encounter with kava during the voyage of 1768-1771. Captain Cook gave the kava plant its name of "intoxicating pepper." Kava was prepared by pounding or chewing the root. In many areas virgin boys or girls were selected to masticate the kava, since they were considered to be pure and clean. The kava drink has many uses in the South Pacific Islands. Primarily it is consumed in ceremonies such as funerals and other religious events amongst tribe members however, it is also consumed in a relaxed social manner.
Kava began to make its way into the main stream in the United States in the early 2000s.
- Kava is primarily used to elevate mood, and relax muscles.*
- Some fans say kava calms the nerves and/or eases stress.*
- Kava can also help dull pain that is associated with headaches and cramps.*
- Kava helps keep the mind alert as the body relaxes.*
- Kava connoisseurs say that kava helps combat restless sleep.*
- Promotes sociability and general well being.*
- Reduces inhibitions and fears.*
- Induces feeling of peace and contentment.*
- Enhances mental alertness and concentration.*