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The root of Piper methysticum (family Piperaceae), a plant of the Pacific islands, used by the natives as an intoxicant.
Synonym(s): kava (1) , kava kava
Farlex Partner Medical Dictionary © Farlex 2012


A broad-leafed shrub native to Oceania, which contains alkaloids, lactones, kawain, methysticin, mucilage, starch and yangonin.
Kava plays a central role in tribal life of Oceania; it is ground and fermented to produce a hallucinogen, which is used to celebrate birth and marriage, mourn death, placate the gods, cure illness and remove curses.
Herbal medicine
Kava is antiseptic and diuretic; it is used by Western herbalists for prostatitis, urinary tract infections, rheumatic complaints, gout, anxiety, depression, insomnia and muscle spasms.

Chronic use is associated with dermal, hepatic, ocular and spinal cord damage.
Segen's Medical Dictionary. © 2012 Farlex, Inc. All rights reserved.


, kava kava (kah'vă-kah'vă)
Agent derived from Piper methysticum; purported antiseizure properties; used to treat anxiety disorders, as a sleep aid, and for its suggested value in therapy for muscle spasms and sexually transmitted diseases. Adverse effects reported include hepatitis, cirrhosis, and parkinsonian syndrome. Some studies of this potentially dangerous product suggest that it may have clinical value as an anticarcinogenic. Reports have also been made of skin discoloration with long-term use.
[Tongan and Marquesan, Litter]
Medical Dictionary for the Health Professions and Nursing © Farlex 2012
References in periodicals archive ?
"There hasn't been a large, definitive clinical study that can say for sure that kava effectively treats anxiety," says Hopp.
It's suspected that kava may give you that warm glow by increasing gamma-amniobutyric acid, or GABA, a brain chemical that suppresses nerve impulses.
Kava was most effective in patients diagnosed with moderate to severe GAD.
You never dish your own kava; it's always served by someone else, and you'll be offered "high tide" or "low tide": a full bowl or a half.
Kava Cafe's MiMA location will be designed by VLDG with architecture by MLG and will feature similar finishes as its current location highlighting white oak, terrazzo, and brass.
Kava's principle clinical advantage over benzodiazepines and other accepted anxiolytics is its purported lack of cognitive, perceptual and motor side effects at anxiolytic dosages, so an understanding of such potential effects is critical in the evaluation of kava as a psychotherapeutic of merit (Singh 2002, Thompson 2004).
Kava, prepared from the plant Piper methysticum, is consumed extensively as a traditional recreational beverage in the Pacific Islands and produces a calming effect.
Vanuatu is the major producer and exporter of kava extracts.
One important structured movement tradition takes place during the mixing of kava. This was first described during the third voyage of Captain James Cook and illustrated by expedition artist John Webber.