Common Name   :Piper methysticum

Plant Parts Used  :The peeled, Dried and Divided Rhizome

Description         :

An indigenous shrub several feet him, leaves cordate, acuminate, with very short axillary spikes of flowers; stem dichotamars, spotted. The natives prepare a fermented liquor from the upper portion of the rhizone and base of the stems; it is narcotic and timulant and is drunk before important regious rites. The root of the plant, chewed and mixed with the saliva, gives a hot into rating juice; it is mixed with pure water or the water of the coco-nut. Its continued use in large doses causes inflammation of the body and eyes, resulting in leprous ulcers, the skin becomes parched and peels off in scals. Commercial Kava rhizome is in whitish on grey-brown roughly wedge-shaped fragments from which the periderm is cut off about 2 inches thick; the transverse section usually shows a dense central pith, surrounded by a clean ring of vascular bundles, narrow and radiating, separated by broadish light-maloced medullary rays. Fracture starchy, faint pleasant odour, taste bitter, pungent, aromatic; it yields not more than 8 per cent, of ash.
Characteristics and Constituents

Oil cells often contain a greenish-yellow resin, termed kawine; it is strongly aromatic and acrid; the plant contains a second resin less active than the first, a volatile oil and an alkaloid, Kavaine Methysticcum yangonin, and abundance of starch.

Actions and Uses :

The effect on the nerve entres is at first stimulating, then depressing, ending with paralysis of the respiratory centre.The irritant action and insolubility of the resin has lessened its use as a local anaesthetic, but for over 125 years Kava root has been found valuable in the treatment of gonorrhoea both acute and chronic, vaginitis, leucorrhoea, nocturnal incontinence and other ailments of the genito-urinary tract. It resembles pepper in local action. A 20 per cent, oil of Kava resin in oil of Sandalwood, called gonosan, is used internally for gonorrhoea. Being a local anaesthetic it relieves pain and has an aphrodisiac effect; it has also an antiseptic effect on the urine. The capsules contain 0.3 gram; two to four can be given several times per day. As Kava is a strong diuretic. It falls under the category of Generally Regarded as Safe Products (GRAS)

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