Botanical Origins: Piper methysticum
Kava is a sleep aid, reduces anxiety, and produces a euphoric feeling.
History and Traditional Uses for Kava
Kava is in the pepper family and has been around for about 3,000 years. It originated in the South Pacific islands. Kava began as a ceremonial plant. In Samoan legend, kava was first given to the first High Chief Tagaloas by the Sun God and Fijian Princess.
Captain Cook first brought kava to the Western world in the 1700s. The natives traditionally chewed the kava root to activate the kavalactones with their saliva. When the French and English began colonizing the islands, they banned the chewing practice because they thought the chewing and spitting were disgusting. So began the practice of grinding the kava to drink.
The effects of kava vary by how it is cultivated and consumed. Generally, kava is a relaxing drink that brings on feelings of well-being. Kava can help ease the stress in the body and mind without distorting the thought process.
Because of its relaxing properties, it can help you fall asleep and will reduce stress and anxiety.
Because kava is traditional medicine, there are not as many studies as with other natural remedies.
A 2003 study compared kava against a placebo in the treatment of anxiety. In twelve double-blind studies, researchers concluded that kava soothed anxiety with a 95% confidence interval because the participants who consumed the kava had a significant anxiety reduction.
Another interesting study was conducted in 2005, looking at the relation between kava and sleep. This study was done on rats and compared kava to the prescription sleeping medication, flunitrazepam. The study concluded that kava matched the benefits of flunitrazepam and did not cause the grogginess associated with the prescription sleeping pill.
Drinking a cup of kava tea is a great way to unwind, relax, and get ready for bed. It relieves stress and helps both your mind and body feel better. After a hectic day, do yourself a favor and brew a cup of kava and feel the tension melt away.
Pittler MH, Ernst E. Kava extract versus placebo for treating anxiety. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2003, Issue 1. Art. No.: CD003383. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD003383.
Shinomiya, K., Inoue, T., Utsu, Y. et al. Effects of kava-kava extract on the sleep–wake cycle in sleep-disturbed rats. Psychopharmacology 180, 564–569 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00213-005-2196-4