Scientific name: Piper Methysticum
Native to: South Pacific (the Hawaiian islands and New Guinea).
Description: The root pulp and lower stems are used to make hot tea or to put in a cold coconut or fruit drink. In the South Pacific kava-kava is also called the plant of knowledge. In the Fiji islands the medical healers, called ’dauvagunu’ (meaning: ’expert at drinking kava-kava’) gained access to the ’Vu’, a spirit force, through the consumption of kava-kava. In this manner they obtained their healing power.
Active substance(s): 6 Kawalactones: Kawain, Dihidrokawain, Methysticin, Dihydromethysticin, Yangonin, Dihydroyangonin (these act synergistically)
Effect: In the south Pacific kava-kava is well known for it’s calming and tension-relieving properties, it can provide deep physical relaxation yet a clear mental state. It is also used as a stimulant and mild aphrodisiac. It stimulates the sexual organs and the urinary tract. In addition, people have been using it as a remedy for stomach cramps, headaches, bladder pain, and at one point in history, it was even used to fight the most painful symptom of gonorrhoea: the discharge. Frequent, long term use of Kava Kava may affect the kidneys or appetite, or cause temporary skin reactions. This will disappear when use is discontinued.
Preparation: Add to hot herbal tea or warm alcohol for immediate consumption; leave in your mouth for a while before swallowing, since human saliva contains enzymes that activate kawalactones. Or add to cold coconut milk and leave in the refrigerator for 24-hours before drinking. To produce a brew similar to the traditional one, mix 30 grams of Kava Kava, 1/3 litre of water or coconut milk, 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil and 1 tablespoon of lecithin (available in most health food stores) in a blender until the mixture gets a milky appearance. Do not drink all at once!
Dosage: 1 or 2 teaspoons. Larger doses produce a dream-like state, somewhat like opium, but should not be taken too often.