Piper methysticum is a shrub growing to 2m height, belonging to the Piperaceae botanical family. Native to Oceania, it grows throughout Polynesia, Melanesia, Micronesia and Hawaï.
Its root called “Kava” is traditionally prepared (chewed, grinded or pounded) to make a beverage, which plays an important part on social, political and religious occasions.
It was used in folk medicine since ancient times for reducing fatigue and anxiety, also for urogenital conditions and respiratory ailments. Its consumption is said to invoke a sense of euphoria, accompanied by sedation and psychedelic episodes.
It has been shown to possess properties such as sleep-producing, antimycotic, local anesthetic, anti-convulsive and smooth muscle contraction effects.
The main root active constituents are kavalactones: methysticin, dihydromethysticin, kavain, desmethoxyyangonin, dihydrokavain and yangonin.