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Kava Kava, a traditional Polynesian plant used for reducing anxiety, is slowly making itself noticed across the rest of the world.
When ingested, the plant has a relaxing, sedating effect. Kava is non-addictive, and can produce a “mild euphoria and relaxtion” when taken. The effects last for a couple of hours, and will kick-in between 15 and 30 minutes after taking the Kava. Of course, this can vary slightly depending on how much was ingested. The traditional way is to drink a cup, wait 15 minutes, then drink another.
Kava excels at reducing anxiety, and when taken shortly before bedtime, can help a person fall asleep quicker and sleep better. Some people experience more vivid dreams when they take Kava before going to bed.
For some, Kava increases mental clarity, especially with taken with caffeine. For most people, the common effects are more patience with others, more sociablity, feeling calm, and relaxed muscles.
When taken, Kava numbs the throat slightly. Due to this, it can be an effective, natural medication for easing a sore throat.
Traditionally, Kava is prepared as a potent tea, which has a very bitter, earthy taste. Occasionally, the leaves are chewed, which gives the strongest effect. Most common in the US, however, are gel caps and pills. These contain roughly one-quarter to one-half the kavalactones (the active, relaxant, sedating ingredients of Kava) that the traditional drink contains.
Recent research on Kava has shown that it may even have cancer-fighting abilities. The South Pacific Journal of Natural Science found that extracts of the Kava plant kille ovarian and leukemia cancer cells, while not harming healthy cells.
Heavy, chronic consumption of the plant (more than 900g a week) for more than three months may result in skin rash and eye irritation. However, this disappears soon after discontinuation of the herb.
A small portion of people may be allergic to Kava. If you are allergic to plants in the pepper family, you are likely to be allergic to Kava. However, this is only about 0.1% of the population.
While Kava is becoming more common, it still can be somewhat difficult to find. An average drugstore like Walgreen’s will not carry it, so best bets are health food stores or the internet.