On 15 February 2006, the Fiji Times and Fiji Live reported that researchers at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland and the Laboratoire de Biologie Moleculaire du Cancer in Luxembourg had discovered kava may treat ovarian cancer and leukemia. Kava compounds inhibited the activation of a nuclear factor that led to the growth of cancer cells. The Aberdeen University researchers published in The South Pacific Journal of Natural Science that kava methanol extracts had been shown to kill leukemia and ovarian cancer cells in vitro. The kava compounds were shown to target only cancerous cells; no healthy cells were harmed. This may help explain why kava consumption is correlated with decreased incidence of cancer.
Fiji Kava Council Chairman Ratu Josateki Nawalowalo welcomed the findings, saying they would boost the kava industry. For his part, Agriculture Minister Ilaitia Tuisese called on the researchers to help persuade members of European Union to lift their ban on kava imports.
In November 2008, the EU announced its lifting of the kava trade ban, which had been imposed due to accusations made in 2001 and since debunked through scientific review of the facts.
Kava’s committed principal ingredients are the kavalactones, of which at least 15 have been identified and are all considered psychoactive. Only six of them produce noticeable effects, and their concentrations in kava plants vary. Different ratios can produce different effects.
The general organize of the kavalactones, without the R1-R2 -O-CH2-O- bridge and with all possible C=C dual bonds shown.
Effects of kavalactones contain mild sedation, a affront numbing of the gums and mouth, and vivid dreams. Kava has been reported to improve cognitive performance and promote a cheerful mood. Kava has similar effects to benzodiazepine medications, including muscle relaxant, anaesthetic, anticonvulsive and anxiolytic effects. They are thought to result from direct interactions of kavalactones with voltage-gated ion channels. Investigate currently suggests kavalactones potentiate GABAA activity, but do not alter levels of dopamine and serotonin in the CNS. It is thought to do this via modulating GABA activity via changing the lipid crust organize and sodium channel function. But, it has also been shown that administration of the GABA antagonist Flumazenil does not have an antagonistic effect on kavalactones, suggesting that an alternative pathway may be involved. Gray, long-term kava use does not cause any reduction of ability in saccade and cognitive tests, but is linked with elevated liver enzymes.
Desmethoxyyangonin, one of the six major kavalactones, is a reversible MAO-B inhibitor (Ki 280 nM) and is able to boost dopamine levels in the nucleus accumbens. This finding might correspond to the slightly euphoric action of kava.
Kavain, in both enantiomeric forms, inhibits the reuptake of noradrenalin at the transporter (NAT), but not of serotonin (SERT). An elevated extracellular noradrenalin level in the brain may account for the reported enhancement of attention and focus.
Lava Cola -officially Lava Cola – Vanuatu Kava Cola- is a cola drink produced in Vanuatu by Vanuatu Beverage Ltd.. It contains a kavalactone additive – kava consumption being traditionally vital in western Pacific nations.
Lava Cola has been described as an “anti-energy drink”. Australian media have noted that it “produces the calming effect of kava without the muddy taste” – adding that, while kava itself is an bought taste, Lava Cola may well be suitable for export.
The Cola started as a syrupy “water-based kava extract” urban by Australian-born James Armitage in 2009. He then successfully approached Vanuatu Beverage to suggest amalgamation it with cola. The watery kava syrup is “added to cola in a ratio of 15 millilitres to a bottle of 330ml”. The drink is now produced in a factory on the periphery of Port Vila, the country’s capital. It went into production for the domestic market in October 2009.
Lava Cola uses kava produced on the island of Maewo, which has generated an boost in revenues for local producers.
Vanuatu Beverage hopes to export the drink first to Fiji and New Caledonia, then to a wider market.
Pharmaceutical and herbal supplement companies extract kavalactones from the kava plant by solvents such as supercritical carbon dioxide, acetone and ethanol to produce pills standardized with between 30% and 90% kavalactones. Some kava herbal supplements have been accused of contributing to very rare but severe hepatotoxic reactions (see section on safety) such may have been due to the use of plant parts other than the root, such as stems or peelings that are known to have been exported to European manufacturers. A kava pill ordinarily has anywhere from 60 mg to 150 mg of kavalactones. By comparison the typical bowl of traditionally prepared kava beverage has nearly 250 mg of kavalactones.
In Western countries, kava beverage is ordinarily made from kava root powder. The root is dried and then finely ground into powder before being exported. Generally, one tablespoon of powder is added per cup of water, but sometimes as much as a half a cup of powder (eight tablespoons) is added per cup of water to boost potency. The powder is then soaked in water for about 30 minutes to allow the water to completely soak through the powdered fibers. Lecithin is often added to aid in the process of emulsifying the kavalactones with water. The kava powder, water, and lecithin are blended in a blender for several minutes then strained into a straining cloth. Nylon, cheesecloth, and silk screen are common materials for straining. The remaining liquid is squeezed from the pulp and the rest is discarded.
As an alternative to the blender method, with the powdered pulp enclosed within the straining material, the pulp is massaged for five to 30 minutes in water, then the liquid is wrung out. As more pressure is useful to the wet powdered pulp while wringing it out, more kavalactones will be released from it. Finally, the pulp resin is discarded and the beverage is loved. Often, coconut water, coconut milk, lemongrass, cocoa, sugar, or soy milk is added to improve flavor.
Kava is consumed in various ways throughout the Pacific Ocean cultures of Polynesia, Vanuatu, Melanesia and some parts of Micronesia and Australia. Traditionally, it is prepared by either chewing, grinding or pounding the roots of the kava plant. Grinding is done by hand against a cone-shaped block of dead coral; the hand forms a mortar and the coral a pestle. The ground root/bark is combined with only a small water, as the fresh root releases moisture during grinding. Pounding is done in a large marble with a small log. The product is then added to cold water and consumed as quickly as possible.
The extract is an emulsion of kavalactone droplets in starch. The taste is slightly pungent, while the distinctive aroma depends on whether it was prepared from dry or fresh plant, and on the variety. The colour is grey to tan to opaque greenish.
Kava prepared as described above is much more potent than processed kava. Chewing produces the strongest effect because it produces the finest particles. Fresh, undried kava produces a stronger beverage than dry kava. The strength also depends on the species and techniques of cultivation. Many find mixing powdered kava with hot water makes the drink stronger.
In Vanuatu, a strong kava drink is normally followed by a hot meal or tea. The meal traditionally follows some time after the drink so the psychoactives are absorbed into the bloodstream quicker. Traditionally, no flavoring is added.
In Papua New Guinea, the locals in Madang province refer to their kava as waild koniak (“wild cognac” in English).
Fijians frequently share a drink called grog made by pounding sun-dried kava root into a fine powder, straining and mixing it with cold water. Traditionally, grog is drunk from the shorn half-shell of a coconut, called a bilo. Grog is very well loved in Fiji, especially among young men, and often brings people together for storytelling and socializing. Drinking grog for a few hours brings a numbing and relaxing effect to the drinker; grog also numbs the tongue and grog drinking typically is followed by a “chaser” or sweet or spicy snack to follow a bilo.
Kava or kava-kava (Piper methysticum) (Piper: Latin for “pepper”, methysticum: (Latinized) Greek for “intoxicating”) is a crop of the western Pacific.
The name kava(-kava) is from Tongan and Marquesan, other names for kava contain ʻawa (Hawaiʻi), ava (Samoa), yaqona (Fiji), and sakau (Pohnpei).
The roots of the plant are used to produce a drink with sedative and anesthetic properties. Kava is consumed throughout the Pacific Ocean cultures of Polynesia, including Hawaii, Vanuatu, Melanesia and some parts of Micronesia. Kava is sedating and is primarily consumed to relax without disrupting mental clarity. Its committed ingredients are called kavalactones. A Cochrane Collaboration systematic review of its prove concluded it was likely to be more effective than placebo at treating small-term social anxiety. Safety concerns have been raised over liver toxicity, largely due to the use of stems and leaves by supplement makers, as opposed to solely the root of the plant as dictated by traditional uses. But, based on a retrospective study of retained P. methysticum drug materials in Germany, the alkaloid pipermethystine, occurring to about 0.2% in the leaves, is an unlikely cause for the observed hepatotoxicity. Whether kava hepatotoxicity may be due to contamination with aflatoxins or other mould hepatotoxins, requires further studies. Gray use of kava with comorbid alcohol consumption or an existing liver condition appears to lead to malnutrition, weight loss, liver hurt (causing elevated serum γ -glutamyl transferase and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels), renal dysfunction, rashes, pulmonary hypertension, macrocytosis of red cells, lymphocytopenia, and decreasing platelet volumes.