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History of Kava

The Piper methysticum also known as AVA, Awa or Kava plant is a member of the pepper family plant and is indigenous herb to many of the islands of the Pacific Ocean. Kava has been used for over 3,000 years for its medicinal effects as a sedative, muscle relaxant, diuretic, and as a remedy for nervousness and insomnia. It has been suggested by many that the cultivation of Kava began in earnest in Vanuatu about 3,000 years ago.  From there it was spread eastward by seafaring islanders, into Fiji and Polynesia, and west to New Guinea and Micronesia.  Explorer Captain James Cook, who gave this plant the botanical name of "intoxicating pepper", was the first westerner to first discovered kava kava.

The botanical has been used in parts of the Pacific at traditional social gatherings as a relaxant and in cultural and religious ceremonies to achieve a higher level of consciousness. The roots can be made into a mildly narcotic beverage that is comparable to popular cocktails in our culture. In Germany, it is used as a nonprescription drug to reduce anxiety. It was first mentioned in scientific records in 1886, and it is gaining popularity in the US for its relaxing effects.

More recently, it has gained popularity with the natives of Hawaii, Australia and New Guinea where it is used medicinally as well as recreationally. It is effective as a pain reliever and can be used instead of aspirin, acetaminophen and ibuprofen.

Recent clinical studies have shown that it is a safe non-addictive anti-anxiety medicine, and as effective as prescription anxiety agents containing benzodiazepines such as valium. While benzodiazepines tend to promote lethargy and mental impairment, kava has been shown to improve concentration, memory, and reaction time for people suffering from anxiety. It has been clinically demonstrated as a means of achieving a state of relaxation without the adverse side effects.

Vanuatu Kava is known as the King of all Kavas. Vanuatu Kava varieties are usually more chemically potent than those from elsewhere. Typically, total kavalactones (the main active compound in Kava) analyses of Vanuatu kavas were shown to be two to five times that of common Fijian varieties.

NOTE: Do not use if pregnant, nursing, or being treated for depression.

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