Kava Tea Has Its Benefits And Its Dangers
Kava tea is one of those herbal remedies that, while enjoying wide use for centuries, brings with it certain dangers. As is the case with many other herbal remedies, kava can interact negatively with other medications, and presents some dangers in itself if taken in to large a dosage.
A Feel Good Herb - An herb that has enjoyed wide usage for hundreds of years must have some good things going for it, and this is the case with kava. The tea, brewed from the kava root, has some effects similar to alcohol, though it is not an intoxicant. Kava tea will give the drinker a feeling of well-being, and even cheerfulness. It promotes restful sleep with no effects the morning after. Drinking the tea also clarifies the thought process, and tends to encourage socializing and talking.
Because kava tea promotes such symptoms, it is widely marketed, along with powders and pills. At times it is advertised as having no harmful effects, at times there are warnings against over dosage or prolonged usage, while other advertisements are more specific in spelling out potentially dangerous side effects. As a result, it can become a little difficult to know just what to believe. Most experts seem to agree on two things. Kava tea should not be a part of your regular diet, but should used for brief intervals, with periods of abstaining from the herb in between. The other point of agreement is that one should not drive for several hours after consuming the tea. While it will make you feel clear headed, it can also cause drowsiness.
Don't Eat The Leaves - A cause of problems sometimes resulting from drinking kava tea can be traced to its preparation, or the preparation of the powder from which the tea is made. The beneficial portion of the kava plant is the root, which is safe to use in a kava-based product. The leaves of the kava plant however are toxic. If when grinding roots to make kava tea, some of the leaves have not been completely removed, the resulting drink may be somewhat toxic, leading to unpleasant side effects. Kava can also magnify problems due to over consumption of alcohol, specifically liver damage. It is strongly recommended that kava or kava tea not be ingested along with alcoholic beverages.
Some Unpleasant Side Effects - Sustained or heavy use of the herb often leads to the appearance of a skin rash, often accompanied by irritation in the eyes. The condition is not permanent and will disappear soon after the use of the herb has been discontinued. Liver problems thought to be directly associated use of the herb, also tend to go away once use is discontinued. As noted before, if liver disease is present due to consumption of alcohol, additional adverse affects due to kava may become permanent, even though use of the herb as been discontinued. Finally, as is the case with many herbal remedies, a small percentage of the general population, something less than 1%, simply is allergic to the kava herb and by extension, to kava tea.
If you do wish to drink kava tea, it's recommended that you limit the amount to one cup per day, for a maximum of four consecutive days, and then discontinue taking the tea for at least two weeks. If you let the tea steep for awhile, it will not be as potent, and you can have a second cup. Kava tea is generally too strong to be safely given to small children. The question can be asked of course, why would you want to give the tea to small children anyway. In fact, the tea is basically a feel good drug, not harmful in reasonable amounts, but in the long run, not necessarily all that good for you either.