About this Episode
In this episode, naturopath and medical herbalist Amanda Williams joins our host Sara Le Brun-Blashka, MS, to talk about kava (Piper methysticum), known to many as “life essential,” “peace elixir,” and “root of happiness.”
Kava comes from the South Pacific islands, where it is deeply rooted in the culture and customs of the people who live there. It is traditionally drunk as a beverage, or people chew the roots and spit them out.
Many scientific research studies have been conducted on the modern clinical applications of kava. Scientific evidence from clinical trials supports the use of kava for:
- Anxiety; generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
- Insomnia, especially stress-induced
- Skeletal and smooth muscle relaxation
- Pain relief
In her practice, Amanda Williams uses kava with patients for a handful of situations, including social anxiety, public speaking, travel, dental visits, toothaches, and sleep – both right before bed and after waking up during the night. Kava can also be used in a chiropractic setting prior to adjustment for patients whose muscles are particularly tight; kava may induce calmness and relaxed muscles for an effective adjustment. Kava can be used acutely for six to eight weeks or over longer periods of time on an as-needed basis.
Kava is often combined with other herbs in practice, such as California poppy and Jamaican dogwood. Amanda emphasizes the safety of using kava and the importance of water extracts when sourcing kava, as well as making selections based on the quality of both the raw material and the finished product.