THE BENEFITS OF THE USE OF KAVA KAVA
IN HERBAL PREPARATIONS
CHEMICAL CONSTITUENTS OF KAVA KAVA
In addressing the unique and complex chemistry of kava, I want to stress that although for hundreds of years man has been able to break down kava into chemical components, it is impossible for man to duplicate its complexity and perfection. Kava and its resin have been investigated using several analytical techniques, including thin-layer chromatography, gas chromatography, and high-performance liquid chromatography. Frankly this paper would be far too extensive if I included all the scientific research done of the property identifications of kava so I will exclude them.
Analysis of the composition of kava rootstock indicates that fresh material on average is 80% water. When dried, rootstock consists of approximately 43% starch, 20% fibers, 12% water, 3.2% sugars, 3.6% proteins, 3.2% minerals, and 15% kavalactones. A lactone is an organic compound containing oxygen. Kavalactones are generally highest in the lateral roots (15%) and decreases progressively toward the arial part of the plant (19% in stump; 5% in the base stem). Other components include alkaloids, flavokavins, an alcohol, a phytosterol, ketones, and organic acids.9
Below I have included a list of chemical constituents and their botanical activities from Dr. James Duke’s database. There are a total of 25 constituents and 52 botanical activities listed. I have included this list in order to point out the complexity of an herb and to demonstrate that standardizing herbs is illogical. In order to duplicate the intricacy of this, and any herb, it must represent the long list of chemical constituents in order to provide the needed activities.Herbs have synergistic interactions of the many constituents that are not included on this list because they are not yet known. The synergistic interactions greatly enhance the primary constituent and thus are need to be included and balanced in a way that only God can do. Also, like I have said previously, this list is only the ‘known’ chemicals of this plant. All herbs are wonderfully complicated and we should leave them the way they naturally grow. This is why wild crafted herbs are so coveted. Those people seeking wild crafted herbs understand that an herb has a very complex environment. In standardizing the herb you are acting in arrogance. It is impossible for us to balance this multifaceted environment that is an herb. I see it this way. Standardizing herbs is man’s way of saying that they know more and can do better than God.
Dr. James Duke’s Phytochemical and Ethno botanical Database