Kava Kava - Best Herb for Urinary Tract Infections

Kava kava

Piper methysticum Piperaceae Also called Kava pepper.


An evergreen shrub that grows on the islands of western Polynesia, kava has, in the past, been very popular as a treatment for stress. This pepper plant does not produce fruit but propagates itself by putting out runners and shoots underground. It can reach 10m in height and has fleshy stems and heart-shaped leaves.


PREPARATION AND DOSAGE

The supply and use of kava kava in unlicensed herbal medicines was banned in January 2003 because of the possible toxic effects of this plant on the liver.


Parts used

  • Roots
  • The roots are processed into extracts but this use is now banned in Europe.
  • The Polynesians soak the roots inwater to obtain a drink once used in rituals and reputed to create feelings of calm and well being.

Constituents

The plant's resin contains unsaturated a~pyrones such as kawain and yangonin, which have several derivatives (kavalactones). The amount of resin varies from 5 to 20 per cent according to the variety and whether it has come from the main root or lateral roots.


Medicinal uses

Numerous experiments have clearly revealed the sedative effects of kava kava and its extracts. A paper Published in CNS Drugs in 2002 documents the ability of kava and kavalactones to treat anxiety.


In 1990 Australian scientists showed that kava exerted analgesic effects in two animal models of pain. The plant also induces mild euphoria.


Kava kava is used in the treatment of urinary tract infections because of its reputed antiseptic and anti inflammatory qualities. American research published in hytomedicine in 2002 revealed that an extract of kava inhibited cyclooxgenase, an enzyme required for the synthesis of certain inflammatory mediators.


CAUTIONS

  • The UK Government banned kava kava after 70 cases of liver damage were associated with it. Studies are being conducted to establish if the herb is safe for future use.
  • Kava-containing products have been associated with liver-related injuries including hepatitis, cirrhosis and liver failure.
  • Kava products are still available on the Internet but, in view of the above, cannot be recommended.

Cultivation

As a tropical plant, kava kava needs the warmth of a well-heated greenhouse. The plant can be grown in rich, well-drained soil in partial shade for ornamental purposes but cultivation for the purposes of preparing home preparations is not recommended. See CAUTIONS.



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