Kava kava: uses and risks.

Botanical name: 

Newsgroups: alt.support.anxiety-panic,alt.society.mental-health,alt.folklore.herbs,sci.med.nutrition
Subject: How safe is Kava Kava?
From: "wyrdin" <scissors.cix.co.uk>
Date: Sat, 15 Jan 2000 17:45:45 -0000

> How safe is Kava Kava?
> I've read all kinds of things about it . . . On the one hand, it's the greatest thing since oxygen. On the other hand, it's closely related to an illegal drug (ice, or ecstacy, or something like that).
> I do NOT want to get stoned. I am interested in Kava only if it is safe and beneficial.
> And I don't trust the people selling it to give me the full story.

Kava Kava is Fijian root, they chew it there ceremonialy and also some of locals have a habit of getting drunk on large amounts.

Please note I am not a doctor, but in my personal experience small doses (25mls of 40% Kava Extract for example) give a feeling euphoria lasting 1-1.5 hours. Chewing the root or rinsing the mouth make the mouth go numb. It is said large doses can make you sleepy, in my experience 250-500mls. The way it works is different from ecstacy although it does involve serotonin, the Kava enables your metabolism to hold serotonin for longer keeping the user cheerful and motivated as the serotonin builds up but this wears of after an hour or so. I have also heard that regular moderate use increases your metabolism's ability to hold serotonin, so in theory after some time you could gradually reduce the dosage for the same effect (I am not positive about this bit, but am quoting it not only for information but invite comment). As regards safety in Fiji they give this to pregnant women and I know a number of pregnant women who use it here in England so I believe it's quite safe. Also I would point out that the effect in moderate doses is mild and in no way disorientating and Euphoric, unlike Ice which I understand to be methamphetamine and powerful stimulant and diet suppressant.

From: "Donna Schakelaar" <donnasch.octa4.net.au>
Date: Sun, 16 Jan 2000 07:02:24 +0930

Here's a site that seems to have reasonable info.

I live in the NT of Australia and kava has had to be banned. Someone introduced it years ago into Arnhemland with the idea of reducing the violence that occurred when people drank too much alcohol. With kava you tend to get wobbly legs and fall asleep if you insist on drinking bucketloads of the stuff. Unfortunately it led to a situation where neglect became a problem and there was a thriving business based around supplying the drug.

Drink too much and you skin goes grey and flaky and yes, your liver does start to get unhealthy. I haven't looked at the literature in a while but I suspect there may be a case report in the Medical Journal of Australia if anyone wants to look it up.

The amounts in actual kavakava caps are minuscule in comparison.

My own personal experience with the stuff is that it looks like dishwater. However dishwater has the advantage because that actually has food in it. It definitely numbs the mouth and quite quickly, and what I found a trifle scary because I was a little merry on white wine at the time - it gave me a second wind. Enough that although I deserved to be feeling a little nauseous from the alcohol, I instead felt perfectly capable of continuing to drink. And that was after one small bowl of the stuff.

Donna [proud to be a Tongan...]