Kava for Treating Stress and Anxiety
Kava is also known as piper methysticum, which means "intoxicating pepper." Although kava has been used for centuries, it no longer grows as freely as it once did. Therefore, it must be cultivated for medicinal purposes. Kava originated in the islands of the South Pacific.
The word kava is used to refer to both the ceremonial drink that the natives once used as well as the plant itself. Today, kava is used on these islands on many ceremonial occasions, such as those that greet important guests from other countries.
Kava has been popular as a drink since ancient times due to a sense of well-being that is often associated with it as people drink it. Typically when consumed in moderate amounts, Kava is not very intoxicating and the senses do not become dulled. Yet, it does usually offer a calming sensation to those who drink it as well as a renewed clarity of mind.
The kava plant includes several active ingredients including demethoxy-yangonin, dihydrokavain, dihydromethysticin, methysticin, kavain, and yangonin. These are known as kavalactones. It is generally thought that the active ingredients work best when used together rather than separating them out of the plant. Therefore, it is thought to be a more effective treatment to use a lesser concentrated form of kava than a highly concentrated form of one single ingredient from the plant.
Kava has been discovered to be effective in treating anxiety or the feeling of nervousness and apprehension that is a normal reaction to temporary stress. It is not to be used as a daily remedy for anxiety, but rather, as an occasional remedy. Should anxiety be a persistent and continual presence in an individual's life, the consequences could be serious for the person's health. Therefore, a visit with a physician is a suggested course of action for those who suffer from constant stress and anxiety.
Kava is also found in prescription form under the name of oxazepam. Studies have presented some indication that kava is effective for treating anxiety when used properly. Unlike alcohol and prescription drugs that have known detrimental long-term side effects, kava does not seem to present any long standing or detrimental side effects.
Taking large doses of kava might have instantaneous results for some individuals. However, taking smaller doses might require one or more weeks before any noticeable effect is seen in some individuals. It is typically necessary to experiment with doses of varying sizes in order to discover the proper dosage for treating each individual who decides to use kava as a medicinal remedy for anxiety.
Quite often, anxiety is a temporary part of daily life. Therefore, the means for dealing with it are just as temporary. In fact, often it is not necessary to continue using kava on a regular basis for someone who is undergoing treatment for anxiety related problems.
Kava is not meant as a cure all for people who are experiencing chronic anxiety or depression. A physician should be consulted by anyone who is experiencing symptoms of anxiety or depression over an extended time.
Individuals living in the South Pacific use kava to relieve social anxiety in much the same way as westerners use alcohol to relax or relieve social stress. Kava tends to relax an individual with minimal side effects.
Kava supplements are sold in a variety of forms that includes concentrates, powders, paste, capsules, liquigels, elixir, and tinctures. The kava powders are available in flavors including cocoa, spice, tropical, vanilla, cinnamon, and banana. Kava supplements vary in quantity, size, and prices according to the supplier who is providing the product. It is available in most vitamin and supplement stores.
Specific dosages are recommended based on the potency of each kava product according to FDA regulations. A physician should be consulted prior to incorporating this supplemental product into a health regimen.
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