People native of the South Pacific satisfy their desire for a relaxing drink with a beverage made from the root of the Kava plant. Besides its recreational use, there are uses for it in their traditional medicine. Scientific researchers recognize that kava possesses many curative qualities, but the possibilities of misuse raise health risks. In the USA and Western Europe, you find kava sold in the form of tea, tablets, drops, powder or extracts. The kava name is only one of several applied to this product. It also goes under the names of Lewena, Sakau, Yaqona and even Grog.
The growing number of people who reach old age only to become disabled by Alzheimer's or other neurodegenerative disorders is one of today's significant social and medical challenges. Our understanding of the causes and knowledge of treatments is still very limited. This is one of the reasons for the interest in the used of kava to prevent or slow down damage to mental facilities. Research made on laboratory mice suggest that extracts from kava could protect brain cells against harm through oxidative stress. There are hopes that it could affect humans in the same way.
Students facing exams and applicants for prestigious positions naturally seek out ways to ensure they enter the exam hall or interview with their intellectual abilities finely tuned. Some of them find that 300 mg of kava extract assists to improve concentration and boosts memory. The fact that they believe that kava helps them may account for some of its positive effects, but the plant contains substances that encourage the brain to function better. However, the excessive taking of kava and the use of high dosages adversely affects the body's functions.
Treatment of depression has become one of the most popular medical uses for kava. Users find that it helps to improve their state of mind and lower anxiety levels. Several studies made with both animal and human subjects show that in addition to these emotional benefits kava also helps to fight the fatigue of depression. It has required a reputation as an excellent alternative to anti-depressant drugs, but its safeness still depends on responsible usage.
Insomnia does not belong in the serious illnesses category, yet those who can't sleep for long periods are more likely to become ill as their immune system weakens. Doctors have been prescribing sleeping tablets for insomniacs for many years, but taking kava could be just as effective and safer. Experiments on human patients prove how kava does have sedative properties and it is especially helpful treating problems of insomnia rooted in stress.
One of the biggest challenges doctors and social workers face is how best to break the addict's dependence on hard drugs. The point comes where they are almost incapable of resisting the desire to take a drug. The limited success of existing treatment encourages the investigation of natural options. Some research indicates that kava’s kavapyrones compound reduces the addicts' drug cravings. The inexpensiveness of it adds to its attraction for financially pressed medical authorities.
Kava contains compounds that seem to reduce the chance of infections developing and help the immune system to work that much better. For example, in an experiment conducted on mice, scientists noted how doses of kava stimulated white blood cells. Furthermore, kava contains the anti-inflammatory substances called flavokawains. How far it contributes to enhancing immunity is still a matter of speculation as opposed to the scientific fact until further research clarifies the extent of its benefits in this crucial health area.
Possible damage to the liver from the long-term use or overuse of kava is the best known of its potential adverse effects. Experts recommend that it is not a good idea to take it for more than a three-month period. A small number of users have caught Hepatitis A. Research connects liver problems to difficulties breaking down kavalactone compounds in the body. Most Europeans and American experience this problem but only a tiny percentage of those from Asian backgrounds.
Certain substances that kava contains makes it important for certain categories of people to avoid using it. For example, it is unsuitable for children. Pregnant and nursing women should also avoid taking it as well. There are risks of liver damage, so a patient with a history of liver problems must consult a doctor before using kava. Since it tends to slow down reactions, anyone who needs to drive a car or work machinery must avoid using it. The negative effects vary in line with the person's health and age.
Someone who needs to take a prescribed medication ought not to use kava before first consulting his or her doctor. It may reduce the effectiveness of propranolol, beta-blockers, morphine-based drugs and a number of other kinds of medications. It is unsafe to drink alcoholic drinks and take kava because of the risk of liver damage. Overuse of this substance could also place people at risk in certain work and travel scenarios.
Even though some of the organizations treating drug addicts consider giving them kava to help wean them off narcotics, there are still concerns that it is another substance open to abuse. Anyone with a tendency to take drugs for recreational purposes could use kava in a similar manner — this, after all, is one of its original uses in its native environment. Lika a drug, the more a person takes and the longer the period of use the greater the chance of adverse health effects.
This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.