By Zane Yoshida

Could Kava be a Secret Weapon in the Fight Against Cancer?

Among kava’s many medicinal properties it has long been suspected that it helps protect against cancer.

In particular, there is a low incidence of colon cancer in the South Pacific island nations of Fiji, West Samoa, and Vanuatu, despite relatively high rates of smoking.

Now this connection is a step closer to being proven. New research out of the U.S. has found that traditionally prepared kava could help treat or prevent the growth of cancer cells. That’s big news for the industry!

Kava’s many health benefits

Although kava’s stress relieving and anti-anxiety properties have been demonstrated in modern clinical tests, many of the other suspected health benefits of kava that have been passed down through the generations in the Pacific island nations remain the stuff of folklore and debate.

It’s fair to say that the medical establishment often scoffs at the reputed health benefits not only of kava but many herbal medicines that have not undergone rigid (and expensive) clinical trials. There is a big industry to protect, after all.

But the latest kava research by scientists from the New York Botanical Garden, The City University of New York, and Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York, is showing great promise with the value of kava in the battle against cancer…

The findings of the latest kava study

In the study, which was published in the Phytomedicine journal, a group of scientists set out to demonstrate that traditionally prepared kava inhibits the growth of cancer cells.

‘Traditionally prepared’ kava is where the roots are extracted using cold water and strained through hibiscus bark. The study focused on the growth inhibitory activity of such a preparation on colon and breast cancer cells.

The following results were found:

“Traditional preparations of kava inhibit the growth of breast and colon cancer cells. Among the kava preparations, the order of decreasing activity was Fiji(2), Fiji(1), Hawaii; the unfiltered preparations from Fiji were more active than the filtered. Phytochemical analysis indicated that filtering reduced most kavalactone and chalcone content.

And the following was the conclusion:

“Our results show that traditional kava, alone or combined with sea hibiscus, displays activity against human cancer cells and indicate it will be worthwhile to develop and further analyze these preparations to prevent and treat colon and other cancers.”

Great news for Fijian Kava!

This is only one study but, despite the limitations, it appears to be great news for the kava industry in general and, in particular, for unfiltered, traditionally prepared Fijian kava. This was the most effective kava in fighting cancer cells.

This is how the people of Fiji have traditionally consumed their kava, rather than in the less active filtered format that is found in many kava products sold around the world.

The great work needs to be continued so that the whole world learns of the kava’s health benefits – not just as a ‘chill out’ drink when you holiday in Fiji or Vanuatu, but in the fight against one of the world’s most devastating diseases.