Historically speaking people have used this for medicine as well as for political and spiritual rituals. Kava induces a feeling of sociability as well as feelings of peace and harmony. It enhances a feeling of interpersonal universalism. It helps overcome status differences, which present men to themselves as special. It focuses on shared experiences, promoting these along with goodwill, and a notion that one cannot hide bad feelings within the context of the kava experience. As such it masks concerns with economic and access differences, which increasingly matter.18, 19 What I mean to say is that if more people drank kava during important meetings we would have more balanced outcomes, stronger relationships, and much less stress along the way. If it was given during couple and family counseling, we would also come out with quicker and superior results. This is so because typically kava invokes an atmosphere of relaxation and easy sociability among drinkers. For this reason it has been used to resolve disputes among tribes and nations as well as reestablish torn relationships for thousands of years in the pacific islands. Iím sure there are many times in our lives that these properties alone could help assist us in creating healthier results.
The ethnobotanical uses of kava include: anodyne, anti anxiety, anti stress, muscle relaxant, antispasmodic, anticonvulsive, antiseptic, aphrodisiac, diuretic, expectorant, intoxicant, narcotic, sedative, soporific, tonic, and urogenital. Traditional pharmacopoeia uses have included treatment for: Gonorrhea, inflammation of the urogenital system, chronic cystitis, difficulty urinating, female puberty syndrome, menstrual problems, headaches, general weakness, chills, sleeping problems, prevent infection, respiratory tract irritation including asthma, rheumatism, weight gain, gastrointestinal upset, tuberculosis, leprosy, skin diseases, and calm nerves of children. It clarifies thought processes, improves memory. Itís a peaceful euphoriant. It can be used for anxiety, despondency, nervousness, depression, Parkinsonís disease, cramps, muscle spasms, insomnia, PMS, topically as antifungal, and for lack of appetite. Through my reading it seems like each island has specific and sometimes differing uses for kava.
Before I start to lie out the details in using kava for specifics, I would like to point out that our goal is not to simply replace drug therapy for herbal therapy. Rather, itís to examine the reason behind our disease and find a more deeply rooted solution, using kava as a bridge. It is essential that we help the whole person. We need to look for the root cause of the disease, rather than just treating symptoms. If we continue in patterns of thought, behavior, work, and culture that are themselves the source of the disease it is a moral mistake to solely rely on herbal remedies, or any other for that matter, to relieve our mental or physical distress. For example, if a condition is psychologically based, it is important to explore issues and find psychological answers. If there is a metabolic or chemical imbalance anywhere in the body, it should be properly addressed with diet and other complimentary herbs. If the problems are related more to lifestyle, we need to seek out a few guiding principles and specific techniques for addressing them. Ultimately we need to work toward the goal of optimal health for mind, body and spirit.
Now that being said, I would like to focus on four main uses for kava. These include anti-anxiety, anti-stress, sleep inducing, and muscle-relaxing effects. Anxiety, depression, and stress are similar and often go hand in hand. People having actual clinical panic attacks, hyperventilating etc. seem also to have anxiety-induced depression. They get irritable and stress even more. That taxes the brain and produces chemical responses, and before you know it they are hit with a nasty depression that they canít drag themselves out of. After using kava for a month three times a day many people seem to be easier to get along with. They sleep easier. They arenít so high strung. And everything just comes easier. They donít need to use kava all the time just when their mind is racing and they are worrying needlessly. All they need to do is to take a few droppers full of kava or a cup of tea and it makes it easier to step back and look at everything more calmly. Again I hesitate to say this but if St Johnís wort is natures Prozac than kava is natureís Valium, or Xanax.15 Kava doesnít overpower you. It relaxes you muscles and calms your emotions without changing your personality. You are still yourself, just not as tense or anxious. Six double-blind studies have been done with people that have agro phobia, social phobia, generalized anxiety disorder, or adaptation disorder. They all rated having moderate to severe anxiety. They were given a low dose of kava extract three times a day during differing periods of time. The conclusions were that anxiety had significantly decreased and interestingly enough had fewer side effects that even the placebo.16, 17 This tells us that it is better than nothing, but letís look at kava versus the super drugs like Xanax, Valium, and Klonopin. Several studies have been done in Germany as well and here in the United States comparing kava to benzodiazepines i.e. Xanax, Valium, and Klonopin. The results have consistently shown that the participants gained relief from their suffering and that kava compared well to these drugs without the latter adverse side effects. In studies where it was measured, kava actually enhanced mental functioning. The results look quite promising.20-22
Mark Blumenthal, director of the American Botanical Counsel says, ďI take two or three squirts of liquid kava tincture before I go to bed, and because it helps me get a healthy dose of REM sleep, even when I donít get the recommended hours, I still wake up refreshed.Ē Insomnia affects 43% of the population. I can personally confirm the testimony of Mark Blumenthal in saying that kava is fast acting for insomnia and with no hangover the next day. In contrast I feel great the next day.
Kava is not just an alternative to those anxiety and sleep medication, It is superior in every way.