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The History of Kava and Where it began

historical kavaKava History

Humans colonized the area of New Guinea and Australia about 40,000 years ago.   They gradually spread out into the islands of Western Melanesia, and later to islands further east.  It has been suggested by many that the cultivation of Piper methysticum began in earnest in Vanuatu about 3,000 years ago.  From there it was spread eastward by seafaring islanders, into Fiji and Polynesia, and west to New Guinea and Micronesia.  The kava plant is spread not by seed, but by the cutting of "cultivars" which are transported and replanted by humans.  The plant was then, and still is, made into a thick brew to serve as a folk medicine, the consumption of which is usually accompanied by some type of religious ceremony.  Kava was used as currency in trade, offered up at weddings, and consumed daily as an integral part of island society.  The earliest records of kava in the west come from the logs of Captain Cook's second voyage to the South Pacific in the late 18th century.  Kava was prepared by pounding or chewing the root.  In many areas virgin boys or girls were selected to masticate the kava, since they were considered to be pure and clean.   Nowadays kava is mostly pounded or ground rather than chewed.

orgin of kava

The following articles and links deal with the subject of the history of kava.

Technical Data on the Origin of Kava
An extract from "Legend and history: Did the Vanuatu-Tonga kava trade cease in A.D. 1447?" by David Luders, Journal of the Polynesian Society - V. 105, no. 3 (1996): 287-310

Kava and Kava Drinking
Deihl, Joseph; Anthropological Quarterly:V-5, no1-4(1932) p.61-68

Kava Drinking Ceremonies Among the Samoans -
S. Percy Smith


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kava monographsSCIENCE Monographs

Thorne Research kava kava Monograph
Thorne Research is a leader in the nutritional supplement industry, pioneering innovations in nutrition delivery, bioavailability, novel compounds, standardized botanicals, creative botanical preparations and formulations, probiotics, and truly hypoallergenic formulations.

Emerson Ecologics kava kava Monograph
Emerson Ecologics provides healthcare professionals with the highest quality nutritional supplements, anti-oxidants, vitamins, minerals, herbs, standardized herbal extracts, green foods, and essential fatty acids - from the world's leading manufacturers of professional supplements.

kava pharmacologySCIENCE Pharmacology and Chemistry

There is an important body of work that investigates the effects of kava on the body, and the chemical properties of the plant.
It is our intent to include many references and information in this section in the future.

General Chemical Description of Kava