South Pacific producers of kava were delighted this week at the publication of a World Health Organisation report declaring kava to be a safe product although one that should be available on prescriptions and not over the counter in an attempt to better monitor its use.

(The Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration describes kava -- also known as kava kava or Piper methysticum -- as a member of the pepper family that has traditionally been cultivated by Pacific Islanders for use as a social and ceremonial drink -- either ground or chewed up and mixed with water or coconut milk.)