Kava Kava: What is it and How Can it Benefit You?

Kava kava is an herb that is derived from the stems and roots of the corresponding plant, which is indigenous to the South Pacific. For centuries, native Pacific Islanders have utilized the plant as a way to decrease anxiety and stress, as well as to promote relaxation. Westerners are increasingly turning to this herb as an alternative to prescription medications as a way to treat certain conditions naturally and safely. Kava kava is traditionally made into a beverage, but it is also sold on the market in the form of tablets, capsules and tinctures.

Anxiety and Insomnia

The products made from this herb are most commonly used to treat anxiety and insomnia. Kava kava itself has a naturally relaxing effect that is beneficial for both conditions. Supplements are also known to cause muscle relaxation, so it is generally best to take kava kava at night before bedtime. Many people who take this herb often find that the effects are similar to drinking an alcoholic beverage, but without the buzz. Those suffering from depression can also find some mood-boosting relief from kava kava.

What makes kava kava so appealing is the fact that its effects are similar to that of many prescription medications offered on the market. Medications that are used for insomnia, depression and anxiety can come with a host of side effects, which is less common with kava kava. Sleeping pills are particularly dangerous for many consumers because they are habit forming. Kava kava can help relieve both insomnia and fatigue without becoming addictive.

Treatment for Other Conditions

Aside from the primary uses of this herb, kava kava is also used as a safe and alternative treatment for menopause and urinary tract infections. In some cases, the occasional use of the herb can help to alleviate symptoms of asthma as well as arthritis. Kava kava can have diuretic effects similar to a water pill, prompting some consumers to use supplements as a way to kick-start their weight loss plans.

Considerations

Kava kava is considered as a safe herb with little side effects when taken as instructed. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued warnings that the supplements can cause liver damage. This risk can increase if you are taking other drugs that can affect the liver in conjunction with kava kava, such as acetaminophen and prescription medications for Parkinson’s disease. Jaundice, or the yellowing of the skin, is one of the many signs of the effects of the herb on the liver—the prevalence of these effects is increased if you use these supplements over a long period of time.

Moderation

This Pacific herb is extremely beneficial for many people suffering from fatigue and anxiety, and it is safe for most individuals. In order to reduce your risk of side effects, you should consider using the herb on a temporary basis, and perhaps gradually increase the dose safely as needed. Many people who use kava kava find a decreased dependence on prescription medications for depression, anxiety and insomnia, but you might want to check with your medical doctor first to ensure that the herb does not interact with any of the drugs you are currently taking.

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