Kava (Piper methysticum)

kava kava piper methysticum

Kava Overview:

Kava is mainly used for its anxiolytic effects. It has the unique ability of calming the nerves, without causing sedation or any loss of cognition (within therapeutic range).

kava is a ceremonial brew for many of the cultures living on the many Pacific Islands. It is neither alcoholic, nor psychadelic, but it does have potent relaxant and slightly euphoric effects when consumed in higher doses.

+ Indications:

  • Generalised anxiety disorder
  • Muscle tension
  • Insomnia
  • Acute stress
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Fibromyalgia

+ Contraindications:

  • Pregnancy or lactation.

Main Herbal Actions:

  • Anxiolytic
  • Hypnotic (in high doses)
  • Relaxing nervine
  • Antifungal
  • Anticonvulsant
  • Sedative (mild)
  • Local anasthetic
  • Analgesic
  • Antipruritic
  • Urinary Antiseptic

Main Uses:

Kava is used traditionally in ceremonies. Modern medicinal uses of the herb involves anxiety-related conditions, muscle tension, insomnia, and acute stress.


Daily Dosage

Liquid Extract

Ratio: 1:2

3-9 mL

Weekly Dosage

Liquid Extract

Ratio: 1:2

20-60 mL


Part Used

Piper methysticum

Family Name



Pacific Islands (numerous)

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Constituents of Interest

  • Kava lactones
  • Flavonoids
  • Methystcin
  • Kavain
  • Chalcones

Common Names

  • Awa (Hawaii)
  • Ava (Samoa)
  • Yaqona (Fiji)
  • Sakau (Pohnpei)
  • Malok (Vanuatu)

Botanical Info:

Kava is a modest plant, bearing only a small amount of leaves. The leaves have a characteristic heart shape.

In the Piperaceae family, there are about 2400 species distributed through only 10 genera. The Piper genus accounts for about 2000 of these species.


Level Of Research:


Clinical Applications Of Kava:

Kava is useful as an anxiolytic, anti-insomniac, and muscle relaxant. It has also shown to be beneficial in treating and recovering from cerebral ischemic attacks (stroke).



Avoid use of kava if pregnant, breastfeeding, or experiencing liver dysfunction.


Products Containing Kava:

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Elevated Kava Extract

By Toniiq

30% Kavalactone Content

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Recent Blog Posts:


See full Kava monograph.