Kava is an indigenous to Polynesia that was used as a sacrament for welcoming friends and guests. It is a woodyshrub with heart shaped leafs and dichotomous stems. The upper rhizome is the part of the kava that is used medicinally. A rhizome is the underground rootlike stem, usually horizontally positioned, that both produces roots below and sends shoots skywards. Kava has a faint, pleasant odor that is pungent and bitter to taste and starchy in texture.
Kava is classified as a hallucinogenic herb. When used moderately, Kava has a subtle narcotic effect that does not dull the mental process or cause intoxication. Kava induces a sense of relaxation and tranquility that leads to deep, dreamless sleep. It is commonly used to provide temporary relief from anxiety, stress, restlessness, muscle pain and insomnia.
It traditionally plays a large role in ceremonies of life such as marriages, births, rites of passage, mourning of death, curing illnesses, removing curses and placating the gods. Kava was most traditionally prepared as a tranquilizing beverage like a tea or chewed. Hawaiians and Samoans also used Kava to treat headaches, body pains, urinary tract infections and treat respiratory issues like bronchitis and asthma. Kava is also known to relieve menstrual discomfort and increase sexual desire.