Kava kava (Piper methysticum) is a shrubby plant containing substances that can soothe the anxious mind and body. Known also as ‘awa or kava, this plant is native to the Pacific Islands and has been a dietary staple of the indigenous peoples there for generations. The substances responsible for kava’s health benefits are called kavalactones and are found in the plant’s root. Kava is well known for its ability to reduce symptoms of anxiety and stress. In a 6-week, double-blind trial with 75 participants, kava was found to significantly reduce anxiety. Furthermore, Bartram’s Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine describes kava as a “powerful soporific for chronic insomnia” due to its calming effect. Kava may be used as alternative to anxiety medication, but should not be used in conjunction with any other drugs. Kava also eases other stress-induced symptoms such as muscle cramps and strains. Uterine cramps and backaches associated with a woman’s menstruation may also become more tolerable by using kava.