Kava (Latin name Piper Methysticum) is a beverage or extract made from a plant species belonging to the pepper family. This plant is native to the western Pacific islands, mainly Fiji, Tonga, and Hawaii. The plant is known as Asava Pepper or Intoxicating Pepper, it can grow to an average height of six feet. It has heart-shaped leaves that stretch to ten inches wide. The best way to consume kava is by drinking it. The traditional beverage is made by steeping kava, either fresh or ground into a dried powder, into room temperature water in order to extract its active components. The drink has to be shaken or stirred before it is consumed. It is a beverage and should be consumed that way. Extracts, pills, capsules, alcoholic solutions should not be considered kava. It’s like if you put caffeine in a pill, you cannot call it coffee, just like dried raisins in a capsule are not wine. Kava is legal in the United States and most other countries. There are even Kava bars you can go to, to try it. For centuries, Pacific Islanders have used kava as a medicinal plant because of its sedative, anesthetic, euphoriant, and psychotropic properties. This herb has been used to treat migraines, insomnia, infections, rheumatism, and anxiety. In some cultures, it is used for religious and cultural traditions, including weddings, political events, funerals, and royal events. Studies have shown that kava can effectively ease anxiety, relieve stress, and relax the muscle and nervous tension, as well as combat insomnia and improve sleep conditions. Kavalactones are the active ingredient in kava, there are six major kavalactones in kava. They pass through the bloodstream when absorbed, causing the plant to act as a muscle relaxant. Kavain is just one kavalactone that is concentrated mostly in the roots of the plant. Its responsible for the feeling of relaxation. Although kava has sedative-like properties, its not an actual sedative. Kavalactones don’t affect or work with the brain directly. The mild euphoric feeling comes from desmethoxyyangonin, another major kavalactone. It boosts your dopamine levels, this is why when you drink kava, there is no alteration of your perception of reality. Generally, there are no side effects when drinking Kava in moderation. It’s just like coffee if you drink too much you can have negative side effects. Studies have shown if taken enough it can cause liver issues. There still isn’t enough information about kava, research is still needing to be done.

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