Kava

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Kava Leaves

Kava

The medicinal herb Kava as an alternative herbal remedy - Kava is native to the islands of the South Pacific and is a member of the pepper family.Common Names--kava kava, awa, kava pepper Latin Names--Piper methysticum

What Kava Is Used For

  • Kava has been used as an herbal remedy and as a ceremonial beverage in the South Pacific for centuries.
  • Kava has also been used to help people fall asleep and fight fatigue, as well as to treat asthma and urinary tract infections.
  • Topically (on the skin), kava has been used as a numbing agent.
  • Today, kava is used primarily for anxiety, insomnia, and menopausal symptoms.

How Kava Is Used

  • The root and rhizome (underground stem) of kava are used to prepare beverages, extracts, capsules, tablets, and topical solutions.

What the Science Says about Kava

  • Although scientific studies provide some evidence that kava may be beneficial for the management of anxiety, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning that using kava supplements has been linked to a risk of severe liver damage.
  • Kava is not a proven therapy for other uses.
  • NCCAM-funded studies on kava were suspended after the FDA issued its warning.

Side Effects and Cautions of Kava

  • Kava has been reported to cause liver damage, including hepatitis and liver failure (which can cause death).
  • Kava has been associated with several cases of dystonia (abnormal muscle spasm or involuntary muscle movements).
  • Kava may interact with several drugs, including drugs used for Parkinson's disease.
  • Long-term and/or heavy use of kava may result in scaly, yellowed skin.
  • Avoid driving and operating heavy machinery while taking kava because the herb has been reported to cause drowsiness.
  • Tell your health care providers about any herb or dietary supplement you are using, including kava. This helps to ensure safe and coordinated care.