The Many Names for Kava
Kava Kava, the famous Polynesian plant which is becoming more and more popular in America and Europe, is famous because it helps with relaxation. It may, in fact, me more famous than we give it credit for, since this wonderful plant from the pepper family goes by so many different names across the globe.
The most common of the names for Kava is Kava Kava, though you'll often find it labeled in supplement or powder form as just "kava powder" or "kava extract." But if you're doing research, you may want to take a look at the different names of this plant.
One of my favorite is its scientific name, "Piper methysticum," which means (literally) "introxicating pepper." Other somewhat less entertaining names for kava include "Rauschpfeffer" is a name used commonly in Europe, though the term (because of cancer research done in Europe) is often what you'll run across if you look into the potential benefits of Kava for preventing or treating cancer (which is definitely worth looking into if you haven't already).
In the islands, different locations have different names for kava as well. In Hawaii is 'awa, in Samoa is 'ava, in Fiji it's yaqona, and in Pohnpei it's sakau. In other locations wordwide, Kava has gotten dozens more names, including gea, kew, kao, milik, meruk, maluk, malohu, and wurzelstock. Though there are many more even beyond this, these are the most prominent.
What does this say? Why is this important? Does it really matter? Well, certainly having so many different names for Kava doesn't change the impact of it. It doesn't change the fact that Kava has been proven to help with anxiety relief and insomnia, and it doesn't in any way alter the research for Kava as a cancer preventetive. But when you're doing your research and trying to get a full picture of this wonderful plant, you'll want to consider looking at these different names.
Some studies, especially foreign studies, do not use "kava kava" their term, so researching (especially from a scientific standpoint) using all the names in your research can be useful. Kava is becoming more and more popular and prominent in the U.S., in Europe, and in many other locations worldwide, so from a research perspective, knowing all the different names is really going to allow you some global perspective.
I think it also says something more, too. The fact that the word has gotten into so many cultures in so many ways indicates to me that it is a significant plant. Rather than using "borrowed words" as languages so often do, many cultures have created their own term for kava, with their own connotation for the plant. Certainly the plant has made a significant impact on these cultures if they have decided to give the plant a title of their very own.
Whether it's significant or not, it's definitely interesting. A single plant that's gaining fame with a hundred different names is certainly worth looking at, and knowing the names if you're into nomenclature like I am can be fascinating in and of itself.
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