Welcome to kava culture: A spreading alternative to reduce anxiety

Regarded as an herbal supplement, kava is currently unscheduled in the US (and most countries)
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Friday, December 20, 2019

Kava, or Piper methysticum, is a tropical evergreen shrub in the nightshade family, native to the South Pacific islands, including Vanuatu, Fiji, Hawaii and others. Its roots are mashed or ground up and consumed orally, typically as a bitter-tasting beverage. It has long been used for medicinal, religious, political, cultural and social purposes throughout Polynesia, including as an aphrodisiac. In Western societies it has been used to treat anxiety, tension and restlessness, as well as to successfully counteract alcohol use disorder. A preliminary study conducted in 2001 found that the active ingredients in kava, known as kavapyrones, bind to many sites in the brain that are associated with addiction and craving. It’s also catching on as a social substance in the US, where kava bars are spreading.