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|Young Piper methysticum|
Kava or kava-kava (Piper methysticum) (Piper: Latin for "pepper", methysticum: (Latinized) Greek for "intoxicating") is a crop of the western Pacific.
The name kava(-kava) is from Tongan and Marquesan; other names for kava include ʻawa (Hawaiʻi), ava (Samoa), yaqona (Fiji), and sakau (Pohnpei).
The roots of the plant are used to produce a drink with sedative and anesthetic properties. Kava is consumed throughout the Pacific Ocean cultures of Polynesia, including Hawaii, Vanuatu, Melanesia and some parts of Micronesia. Kava is sedating and is primarily consumed to relax without disrupting mental clarity. Its active ingredients are called kavalactones. A Cochrane Collaboration systematic review of its evidence concluded it was likely to be more effective than placebo at treating short-term social anxiety.
People taking certain kava-based drugs and dietary products have suffered liver damage or liver failure as a result of hepatotoxicity. Consequently, kava is regulated in a number of countries.