kava kava

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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

Toxicology Kava kava's use as an herbal antidepressant has been linked to fulminant liver failure, accompanied by jaundice, fatigue, weight loss, concomitant renal failure and progressive encephalopathy, requiring a liver transplant. See Liver failure.
McGraw-Hill Concise Dictionary of Modern Medicine. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


, 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
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The plant parts used of Piper methysticum (kava kava or kava as it is commonly known) are the root and rhizome (Braun 2007).
Kava kava (Piper methysticum Forster) is a plant originating from Oceania (Polynesia, Melanesia and Micronesia).
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