* Prices may differ from that shown
Before I write anything about Kava, I must add that as far as I know, Kava was banned in the UK for INTERNAL use. However it is still sold in many forms and can even be purchased on Ebay as well as in many herbalist type stores and all over the internet. Strangely enough it is still possible to buy Kava tea on Ebay but I cannot find anything that suggest the ban has been lifted for ingestion. It is not illegal to buy or own or sell Kava but there seems to be a big grey area surrounding the use of capsules etc.
Kava is very popular amongst stoners so is available everywhere on the net.
Kava kava is a plant that has many very useful properties but please do your research fully first and make an informed decision. Have I used it? Yes (internally) and I still use it but it is confined to external use now.
For over 3,000 years Fiji inhabitants have been partaking in the traditional kava ceremony in which the root of the kava plant (piper methysticum) is ingested by elders. The ceremony aims to attune the taker to the spiritual realms. The plant is calming yet stimulating at the same time and has marked anxiolytic effects. Kava not only reduces anxiety but acts as a localised anaesthetic. People who drink it often report a numbed mouth, although this effect is temporary. The active Kava-lactones bind to GABA receptors in the brain creating a feeling of slight euphoria and well being.
Traditional and Ritual use:
Kava kava is traditionally taken in a tea type drink form or chewed like Betel leaf in order to enhance friendships and increase sociability (much like alcohol is used here) for clarification of thoughts, as an appetite stimulant and if taken at a higher dosage it is used for spiritual visions. Other more medicinal uses include it being used as a sedative, a muscle-relaxant, an antispasmodic and analgesic. The root is used in Samoa to treat both gonorrhea and elephantiasis and for internal and external pain.
In the West kava preparations were available until fairly recently to treat nervousness and anxiety, insomnia and to aid concentration. Kava used to be combined with St John's wort (Hypericum) for the treatment of mild depression. In fact Holland and Barrett used to sell it in this form and I remember taking it for my O-levels (I am that old yes). I found it useful to help me concentrate and manage stress during this time. Nowadays you will not be able to buy it in Holland & Barrett nor can you technically buy the capsules to swallow. But you can buy the powdered root easily and make your own capsules should you feel brave. Do your research though.
The banning of kava:
There have been some major concerns with the use of kava and its effects on the liver. Cases have been linked to kava including liver toxicity, hepatitis, cirrhosis and liver failure. However these tests have been criticised because the people who suffered any ill effects had existing liver conditions or used excessive doses, sometimes in combination with alcohol. Kava was restricted for sale and import in the UK but restrictions have been lifted for the import of kava for external use. Although not illegal to use kava internally, it would be unwise to consider it without doing a lot of reading up on the root and its potential side effects. These include indigestion, mouth numbing, headache, tiredness. Heavy use of kava is definitely not recommended as it can cause hypertension, kidney damage and blood abnormalities.
I used kava as a natural remedy as stated during my O-levels and I found it helpful. However that was then and this is now. Kava was available then and considered safe. More research has since been done of course and I would not use it now. There are alternatives and I shall touch on those further down.
I used kava once recreationally with some interesting "jazz cigarettes" in my wayward youth and found that it enhanced the effects of the smoke. I felt relaxed and more chilled out with the kava. There is a fair bit of information on Erowid and similar sites and it seems that kava is still used recreationally along with peyote and other natural stimulants and chill out plants. I would not do it now- too risky with my health being the way it is and also am too old for all of that malarky....
I still buy kava for external use mainly for use in the case of toothache or for aching muscles and this is safe. I use it in a bowl of hot water as an inhalant when I get bad chest infections as it loosens the chest and is naturally antiseptic. I have had no light-headedness or stoned feelings from doing this before anyone asks...
SAFE ALTERNATIVES TO KAVA:
Safe alternatives exist, namely valerian root and hops which are both available to buy as capsules, tea and tinctures. Valerian is particularly effective but smells like rancid socks so is not very palatable. You can disguise it somewhat with honey or use capsules.
THE SAFE USE OF KAVA:
Kava is antiseptic, numbing and is a very effective external pain reliever if you do not wish to use chemicals such as "Deep Heat" type products. I use it to make a strong tea and then apply it via a muslin type cloth which has been liberally soaked in the tea. This is placed on the skin directly and eases pain pretty effectively. It can be used as a wash for vaginitis or syphilis although I have not tried this out...
I have used hot kava tea as a compress for aches and muscle pains. There is evidence that kava can speed up the healing of wounds when applied externally but I have not tried this out. I have gargled with it though when I have a sore throat and this acts as a natural numbing throat treatment.
A strong decoction of kava in tea form is excellent for toothache when applied directly to the affected tooth and gum. I use my finger to apply it and it does help. especially when combined with clove oil.
I have suffered no ill effects in using it externally and this is now what it is sold for, officially anyway...
I recommend kava kava for external use. I would not take the chance on ingesting it now as I am breastfeeding and have too many health issues. There are a lot of possible interactions and complications with internal kava use so do your research. For external help with pain though kava is a great thing and something I think that I will always have in the house in my arsenal of pain killing treatments. Please do not use kava to self medicate in the case of depression or anxiety- see a Dr.
Kava ranges in price but is not hugely expensive. It pays to shop around. I buy mine from a herbal supplier.
Further reading and references:
National Institute of Health - National Toxicology Program. (2003) Herbal Medicines Factsheet
Kava kava root, or Piper methysticum, is a herbal remedy that is used to treat a wide range of mild symptoms. It is available without prescription, and takes a variety of manifestations from pills to tea.
Some consider kava kava root to act merely as a placebo, with no real medical value. Many others, however, claim it is effective in treating the ailments it is issued for. Some of these ailments include:
Soreness in joints and muscles
As a pain reliever kava kava can be used in place of aspirin, acetaminophen and ibuprofen. I cannot comment on the effectiveness of kava kava in this respect, as I largely resort to the remedy for insomnia. Being non-addictive however, there is a general consensus in the medical community that the plant is safe and a natural substitute for many more potent medicines available. Many people claim it will rival anti-anxiety medication containing benzodiazepines (valium, for example), as while benzodiazepines have a tendency to induce sluggishness and impaired co-ordination, kava kava has the converse effect, and instead is said to improve memory, motivation and reaction time.
Worryingly, some kava kava supplements have been accused of contributing to severe hepatotoxic reactions. Similarly, those who are pregnant, breast feeding, taking medication for depression, and those who have had liver problems should avoid kava kava.
I used kava kava supplements several years ago to treat sleeplessness. I am always suspicious of herbal remedies that are supposedly effective against an extensive range of hugely different ailments. I used the supplements for around three months, and although I experienced slightly increased relaxation, I cannot say for certain whether this was as a result of taking the supplement tablets or whether this was a placebo effect. I suspect the latter, however. One thing that I can say for certain is that taking the supplement did not aid my sleeplessness. The supplements I took were purchased from Holland and Barrett, and were large capsules that were consumed once a day with water. The supposed 'relaxatiuon' I experienced set in after the second tablet I consumed.
60 250mg capsules of kava kava can be purchased from the following sources:
£12.95 from biovea.net
£12.95 from agestop.net
£15.59 from althealth.co.uk
I would not use kava kava supplements again, although I know people who continue to take them and praise their abiliies as a natural medicine. If you are looking for a herbal remedy in place of a presecribed medication you have little to lose by trying kava kava, but from my own experience their effectiveness is minimal.
I was really surprised when I was scanning through this list of medicines and I found Kava kava on it!
So I think it's only fair to warn anyone else reading the other two reviews for KAVA KAVA (Piper Methysticum Root) that they are 6-7 years out of date and EVERYTHING has changed DRASTICALLY since then!
So please don't get your hopes up if looking for natural pain relief or an alternative anti-depressant.
KavaKava was/is fantastic stuff and thousands of people the world over swear by it as a pain relief medicine and as a very powerful anti-depressant- unfortunately though it is currently ILLEGAL in the UK & Germany if bought/sold for "Internal Use".
KK capsules & KK drinks are ILLEGAL simply because they are CLEARLY intended for Internal use!! But KK can still be bought LEGALLY if used 'externally' - doh how daft is that!
The Police will let you **buy** and **sell** the **exact**same product but if you say it is for incense or wibbly-wobblie rough bits in soap or smelly bits in candles you are safe .........but if you publicly admit you are going to 'ingest' it they can arrest you!
A moderate amount (2 spoons) of kava in a drink drink causes effects within 20-30 minutes that last for about two hours, but can be felt for up to eight hours.
With KK use, the sensations (in order of appearance), are slight-moderate tongue tingling and lip numbing (caused by the contraction of the blood vessels in these soft tissue -high contact areas)
Then the lips and skin surrounding the mouth may appear unusually pale.
Patient becomes mildly talkative and euphoric behaviour begins.
Anxiolytic (calming) effects, sense of well-being and clear thinking takes over and the muscles relax.
Sleep is often restful and there are pronounced periods of sleepiness correlating to the amount and potency of kava drink consumed.
A potent drink results in a faster onset with a lack of stimulation, and then a deep, dreamless sleep within 30 minutes.
Unlike alcohol-induced sleep, after wakening the drinker does not experience any mental or physical after effects.
KK cannot be smoked or heated as this detroys the active ingredients.
Although not currently legal for internal use, it is still for sale though (ebay have some) and the shop selling it (Ree04 Apothecary Box) points out that you can OPENLY and SAFELY buy it with NO PROBLEM, but they're only selling it as EXTERNAL USE. .......... They do go to great lengths though to reassure you though that it is the EXACT same product & hygiene standard as Internal Use KK ;-)
I've had a quick flick though their advert and it IS accurate and the information IS reliable.
Even their facts are accurate about buying KK from abroad that is marketed in another country as for 'internal use' & then knowingly importing it into the UK, is currently Prohibited/Illegal.
So they know their stuff & then they do the responsible thing by clearly stating that there is lots of info available on the internet so people are able to research for themselves.
If you do decide to buy and kava kava you should ensure you ONLY buy the "Lateral Root" as that is the highest quality - don't get fobbed off with 'botanical mix'.
Genuine Dried, Fijian KK lateral root is a pale sandy coloured mix with soft powder and bits of thin strands of root. It should smell clean but slightly peppery.
The Fijians cannot understand why the UK has banned it. The famous Fijian fire-walkers (the guys who walk over hot coals etc ) drink kava kava before they do their walk. It's actually their sort of "National drink" in Fiji!
They mix it up in special ceremony using beautiful wooden bowls to drink it straight from.
It apparently is mixed to a very potent level with strong firey taste when the Fijians drink it and it is quite an "acquired" taste.
When it was legal in the UK to drink KK, people used to drink it in much smaller doses than the Fijians use it.
For pain relief and ease of depression etc - it was made it by adding just two tablespoons of it into a blender with some milk & making a milkshake of it to drink.
It's apparently used to taste quite peppery though (kavakava -aka Piper Methysticum is from the pepper family) so to make it more enjoyable than pepper-milkshake (yuck).
Most people used to add a whole banana to the blender & make a nice banana milkshake with it...
For those who didn't like banana's, they used to use chocolate chips & spoon of choc ice cream which they would add to the kavakava & milk and produce a chocolate milkshake!
One of these milkshakes a day was enough to ease pain and for others lift their severe depression.
There have not been ANY recorded cases of addiction to kavakava.
In Germany & UK it was banned when there were three German cases of liver failure from OVERUSE !
(We have more fatalities from paracetemol overuse than that but you can still buy paracetemol in every cornshop!)
So, the jury is very much out on this one! Lots of people believe it should never have been banned.
There was actually no research that substantiated/justified the move to ban it.
The research proving its efficacy outweighed any claims to the contrary. And the fact that it is NON-addictive made it highly desirable in preference to some of the "prescribed" alternatives.
So, as long as you know the current legal situation and you know can no longer buy it in Holland & Barretts!
You can then make your own mind up as to what to actually do with it if you buy any for making soap or incense.
If you read all the guff about the Kava Kava root you might just believe it is the miracle cure for just about everything! I have yet to discover the truth, but it is certainly something that people all around the world recommend highly. I was advised to buy some by a very helpful assistant at Holland and Barretts because I have had real problems sleeping recently, which has led to colds, worsening of my eczema and, most troublesome of all, it has led to me being the moodiest little @#*!??@£ in the World Ever ..... ‘95. I can’t explain my reasons for this apparent insomnia, because there are no obvious ones, but I have had problems getting to sleep all my life, and it would appear I am getting worse. I have always hated the idea of messing with my body, so currently sleeping pills, tranquilisers, and all that jazz ;O) are something I would like to avoid. Even the idea of herbal remedies worries me because I’m a sensitive little being and am prone to allergies. Which is nice. So - EXPERIMENT #1. I am trying Kava Kava root extract in its liquid form. What is Kava Kava? ================== Kava kava, also known as Piper Methysticum, kava and awa, is a herbal remedy that comes from the root of a plant grown in and around the Pacific Islands. It is generally used in its powdered form. What is it used for? ==================== Kava Kava has been used for about 3000 years, so they’ve managed to find quite a few uses for it. As I have said, I am using it for insomnia, but its general use is to relax the body while keeping the mind sharp. People use it as light relief from depression, for migraines, pain relief of all kinds, and to relieve the effects of menopause. It has also been used to unclog urinary tracts, to lose weight, relieve asthma and rheumatism. Drinking kava is thought to be good for headaches, cramps, and to cure syphilis and gonorrhea. It has been believed tha
t kava can restore strength, soothe stomach pains and cure such ailments as boils. However, I’m not too sure about the last few, so try it if you want, but don’t blame me if it doesn’t work! Who can use it? =============== As far as I can see there are no limitations on its use, although the usual precautions should be taken when considering giving it to children. The stuff I have (see below) is free from wheat, gluten, yeast, corn, soya, sugar, starch, lactose, salt, preservatives, artificial colourings and flavourings. It is also alcohol free (although alcohol is used in one of the processes for making the stuff, it is removed later) and suitable for vegetarians and vegans. The label on the bottle advises people on medication, under medical supervision and women who are pregnant or lactating to consult their doctor before use. How is it used? =============== Kava is generally put through various processes, such as sun-drying and powdering, that make it into a powder. I bought the stuff which has already been made into a liquid, but the powdered form can be made into teas or put into ice-creams, infusions, what ever takes your fancy. I found some recipes on this site - kickbackwithkava.com , which provides other useful bits of info too. For my use I put 5-10 drops (about 0.5 ml) of it into a little water, mix it round, gulp it down, twice daily. Where can you get it, and for what price? ================================= I got mine from Holland & Barretts which was about £4.50 for a 30 ml bottle, which should last about a month or 2. You can get it in different sizes shapes and forms for similar prices at Holland & Barretts, and most likely other health food shops. It is also available on the website mentioned above, but I haven’t used this so can’t really recommend it. Kava kava is getting more renowned so is likely to become more available and cheaper.
Are there any known side-effects? ================================= There appear to be no side effects that I have experienced or found out. The whole point about kava is that it relaxes your body while providing clarity of thought, but its probably best to find out what it does to your body before you take it while driving or working! How effective is it? ==================== I have only just started taking it really, so I’ll have to update this. However, when I have taken it I have slept better and been a bit less grumpy! (My boyfriend is about to ship a crate or two of the stuff to my front door!) Most people who use it seem to find it varies from being quite relaxing to full on smile-o-rama happy-making. I suspect it depends on where you get the stuff and how much of it you take. Right now I’d recommend using the stuff, but only just. I’ll keep updating this with the latest results of my trials (!). Just call me Dr.Hoop.
I went through quite a phase last year of trying out different supplements. The best one I came across was KavaKava root, a herbal relaxation thing which really works. Apparently the best way to take these things is the Ephytem Micro-spheres, which look like tiny little balls in one capsule, and you only need 2 a day and it costs about £10 for 60. I was really quite stressed about life in general and whether it worked as a placebo or not - it worked for me. I stopped worrying so muach about what people thought of me, and actually got more stuff done because of this. Another thing I tried was Echinacea, which apparently strengthens your immune system, I still got the flu from hell, but I'll keep taking it this year to see if it works, apparently it does. I suppose we are less likely to notice the times when we are feeling good, than when we are feeling run-down and sorry for ourselves! 1 a day is all you need and they are not too expensive. The Bach flower range is another one I have tried, i'm a little dubious about their powers, and not too sure about the price! The way that they extract the goodness from the flower is to leave them in the sunlight, floating in purified water so that there is no real trace of the original plant in the substance you take. A drop of this water is then mixed with brandy to be dropped onto the tongue. I tried the 'Rescue Remedy' (£3.50)and as far as I'm concerned it worked. My College interview went like a dream, when i would usually have been in a total state. It can also be taken in cream form, which is rubbed into sore or irritated areas. The Australian Bush Flower range is very similar, yet apparently even more potent. My long term boyfriend broke up with me a while ago (weep!) and I needed something to soothe me as i was hysterical and had just begun my new course, so couldn't really afford to take any time off college (gee, i'm such a goddamn tro
oper man!) So i went to Neals Yard and was given a chart to follow which described which supplements would be appropriate for each condition. It was very specific and even had a flower which could be taken for the passage from this life to another! - wasn't as hippyish as it sounds. The one i chose was Red Suva Frangipani, derived from a beautiful flower, and which could be diluted in brandy and dropped onto the tongue twice daily or mixed in with body cream. I t only cost about £5 and a little goes a long way. It comforted me greatly to feel that my pain was being taken care of, i'm sure it was all psychosymatic, but that didn't matter - it helped me get on with my life until i had calmed down a bit and began to forget taking it (which can only be a good sign!)
Natural relaxation aid.