Kava Kava Root - Piper methysticum

Kava Kava Root

Piper methysticum

Kava Kava root preparations are also pretty potent for musculo-skeletal pain and upper respiratory tract infections.

  • Plant Family: Piperaceae
  • Plant type: Perennial
  • Other names: Kava, Awa
  • Medicinal: Yes
  • Culinary: No
  • Ceremonial: No
  • Parts Used: Roots
  • Side Effects: Can cause injury to the liver
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About Kava Kava

Kava kava root is hailed as the root of happiness because of its sedative activity. From ceremonial drink to a pain-reliever, kava kava root drink is too good at relaxing the men. It has traveled from the Pacific Islands and resides happily in the Piperaceae family.

Kava kava plant is marked by a big shot, heart-shaped leaves, and its famous rhizomes and lateral roots. Kava kava is considered as a cash crop in Fiji and Vanuata.

The Samoan history comes up with an interesting legend that proclaims that the son of the sun god told his native people about growing and making kava. The legend also emphasizes the power of kava that could bring even the dead back to life. Modern herbalism includes the usage of just the roots of kava kava as they are helpful in treating anxiety disorders, epilepsy, depression, insomnia, stress, and psychosis. Due to its commendable capacity of dealing with neuronal disorders, kava kava root is termed as nature’s Xanax.

Kava kava root preparations are also pretty potent for musculo-skeletal pain and upper respiratory tract infections. Since it directly metabolizes through the liver, it can cause some damage to it. A group of researchers proclaims the liver damage is driven by the consumption of kava kava root with alcohol. So, kava kava root must not be ingested with alcohol or its alcoholic extracts should be prohibited to avoid liver damage.


Kava kava is a bit finicky about the conditions it requires growth. It is difficult to grow kava kava as it is sterile and does not produce enough seeds for plantation. It is only propagated through stem cuttings and divisions.

For indoor plantation, the soil is raked to a fine texture and the pot is allowed to sit on a sunny patch. It must be watered thoroughly to meet its demand and skip the episodes of damage brought by dryness.

They can be grown any time of the year. All they want is good quality moist soil, a lot of humidity, and plenty of rainfall. Kava does not approve of drought, tropical cyclones, and volcanic eruptions and receives colossal damage.

There are pretty low chances of growing kava from seeds as the plant is sterile and is less likely to produce seeds. It is softly reminded time and again to propagate kava via stem cuttings and divisions.

Kava grows at a mediocre pace and takes three to five years to mature. The flowers of kava are reproductively weak. They do not produce seeds, even after getting pollinated by hand. If any pollination ends up being successful, then this step leads to the formation of fruit.

The plant is then further propagated via cuttings again as the fruits are quite less and do not provide many seeds for healthy plantation of kava.


Kava kava roots are harvested four years after their plantation. For various other ceremonial rituals, the roots are harvested ten years after their plantation to preserve the code of tradition.

The lateral roots of kava kava are harvested with a gap of three years between each harvest. Harvesting lateral roots prove to be fruitful to the plant as it does not impart damage to it.

Kava kava roots can be stored in the freezer, but this way, the shelf life is just of 1-2 days.

For a prolonged shelf-life, the roots are washed, cut into chips, and left to dry in the sun until they seem hard to touch. The chips can then be transferred to an airtight container and sat in a cool, dark, and dry place.


Kava kava roots are used enthusiastically all around the globe due to its amazing health benefits.

  • Tincture - A pound of kava kava is blended with alcohol and macerated for just two weeks. The mixture is then pressed to obtain tincture that is readily transferred to an airtight, amber glass container.
  • Tea - 1 to 2 teaspoon of kava kava root powder is blended with hot water and strained to make kava kava tea.
  • Salve - Kava kava root infused oil is used with other essential oils and beeswax to make kava kava salve.
  • Syrup - Kava kava roots are paired with honey, lemon juice, and water on low flame to make syrup.
  • Infused oil - Coconut oil or any other carrier oil is used to make kava kava root infused oil.