Piper methysticum, kava-kava, kava.

Piper methysticum, kava-kava, kava roots have been used as a ceremonial beverage in South Pacific societies for thousands of years. Like garlic, kava is dependent upon humans for propagation as it does not produce viable seed. This highly variable sprawling shrub in the pepper family, is found throughout the South Pacific islands from Hawaii to New Guinea. The plant has been cultivated for so many centuries that its exact origin is unclear. Kava in its present form evolved during 3,000 years of cultivation. Polynesians have used a brew of the fresh or dried root as a ceremonial or social beverage for centuries. The cultural role of kava in Pacific societies has been compared to that of wine in southern Europe. The rootstock and its preparations are used to allay nervous anxiety, stress, and unrest.

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