The Many Names for Kava


Kava Kava, the famous Polynesian plant that is becoming increasingly popular in America and Europe, is famous for aiding relaxation. In fact, it may be more famous than we think, as this wonderful plant in the pepper family goes by many different names around the world.

The most common name for Kava is Kava Kava, although you’ll often find it labeled in supplement or powder form as simply “kava powder” or “kava extract.” But if you’re doing your research, you might want to take a look at the different names for this plant.

One of my favorites is its scientific name, “Piper methysticum,” which means (literally) “intoxicating pepper.” Other somewhat less entertaining names for kava include “Rauschpfeffer” is a name commonly used in Europe, although the term (because of cancer research done in Europe) is often what you’ll find if you look at Kava’s potential benefits for preventing or treat cancer (which is definitely worth looking into if you haven’t already).

On the islands, different places also have different names. In Hawaii it is ‘awa, in Samoa it is ‘ava, in Fiji it is yaqona, and in Pohnpei it is sakau. Elsewhere in the world, it has gone by dozens of other names, including gea, kew, kao, milik, meruk, maluk, malohu, and wurzelstock. Although there are many more even beyond this, these are the most prominent.

What does this say? Why is this important? Really matters? Well, certainly having so many different names for Kava doesn’t change its impact. It doesn’t change the fact that Kava has been shown to help with the relief of anxiety and insomnia, and it doesn’t alter the research to prevent cancer in any way. But when you’re doing your research and trying to get a complete picture of this wonderful plant, you’ll want to consider looking at these different names.

Some studies, especially foreign studies, do not use the term “kava kava”, so doing research (especially from a scientific point of view) using all the names in your research can be helpful. It’s becoming more and more popular and prominent in the US, Europe and many other places around the world, so from a research perspective, knowing all the different names will really allow you to get a global perspective.

I think it also says something else, too. The fact that the word has reached so many cultures and in so many ways tells me that it is an important plant. Instead of using “loanwords” as languages ​​often do, many cultures have created their own term for kava, with their own connotation for the plant. Certainly the plant has had a significant impact on these cultures if they have decided to give the plant a title of its own.

Whether it’s significant or not, it’s definitely interesting. It is worth looking at a single plant that is gaining fame with a hundred different names, and knowing the names if you like nomenclature like I do can be fascinating in itself.

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