What is kava?
Kava is a small shrub grown in Pacific islands, mainly Vanuatu, Fiji, Tonga, and Hawaii. Islanders have used kava plants for centuries in social rituals, religious ceremonies, and for medicinal purposes. The root and stump of the plant are ground down and made into a natural, non-alcoholic beverage. When consumed, the effect of the active ingredients in the kava plant is psychological and physiological relaxation. Kava’s botanical name is Piper Methysticum and there are estimated to be over 105 different varieties of the plant.
Effects of Drinking Kava
Drinking kava offers many benefits*. Kava root drinks relax the mind and body and induce a sense of calm and euphoria, making it ideal to use for social relaxation. It can also be used to reduce stress, those everyday normal feelings of anxiousness when facing challenging life events, as well as to relieve muscle tension or to help when getting to sleep or staying asleep is difficult. There are many reasons to drink kava. Our customers tell us they like to drink kava as:
An alternative to alcohol for social relaxation
A way to alleviate stress and keep calm
A means of taking normal everyday anxieties, worries, and fears down a notch
A way to lift their mood and increase sociability
A natural sleep aid or to help with occasional sleeplessness
How kava works
The calming effects of kava root drinks are due to a combination of the main active ingredients in the plant, (known as kavalactones), not to a single substance or compound. There are thought to be 18 different kavalactones, with a large majority of active ingredients coming from just six. Each variety has a different composition of these six kavalactones and that is why different varieties provide different relaxation effects. Some are more uplifting and great for daytime drinking. Other varieties are better for nighttime drinking and great as a sleep aid.
Kava Side effects and Safety
One of the big kava root benefits compared to alcohol is that it will not overly dehydrate your body or fill it with the toxins that lead to headaches and hangovers. Drinking kava you won’t have to worry about waking up and feeling groggy the next morning. And, kava doesn’t impair your cognitive abilities or mental clarity in the same way that alcohol does.
Instead, kava is great for social relaxation, boosting your mood and making you more talkative and still coherent. It has none of the downsides of alcohol that can make some people more aggressive or depressed even. For these reasons, Kava is popular amongst people looking to stop drinking alcohol and the new sober curious movement. It is still recommended that you don’t drive after drinking it.
One of the major kava root benefits is that it has been proven to be non-addictive. Unlike other substances, drinking kava is not habit-forming and you will not build up a tolerance to the effects causing you to need to drink more each time. In fact, the exact opposite has been shown. The beneficial effects of a drink of kava can be felt even more when less is drank on subsequent occasions. This is because of the distinctive way that kava affects the brain and the way your body adapts to drinking kava.
The Ban On Kava And The Bogus Liver Damage Scare
Kava is a relaxing tea made from the root of a pepper plant Piper methysticum. This ceremonial tea has been safely consumed by the people of Polynesia, Micronesia, and Hawaii for 3,000 years. In these locales, kava tea is more than a beverage, it’s an integral part of the culture. It is consumed at milestone events like weddings and funerals, and also during healing and religious ceremonies to achieve a “higher level of consciousness.” Kava is also used traditionally for treating a wide variety of ailments including asthma, insomnia, fatigue, mood swings of menopause, and urinary infections.
Yet it’s been banned or restricted in some countries and labeled as a dangerous herb that can cause liver damage. Is the ban on kava justified or based on an unfounded fear? And beyond being a ceremonial drink, does kava have medicinal uses? Let’s take a look at how this scare has been perpetuated and the current status of kava around the world.
Is Kava the Cure for Anxiety?
Kava is a plant that grows in tropical climates, particularly on the islands of the Pacific Ocean. It takes the shape of a shrub. It grows low to the ground, with light green, heart-shaped leaves.
Fiji, Samoa, Hawaii, and the Republic of Vanuatu all carefully cultivate kava plants. The kava plant has traditionally been used to brew a ceremonial drink and as an herbal remedy by people native to those areas.
Kava is known to produce pleasant sensations and have a calming, relaxing effect on people that use it.
Because of its calming qualities, kava has come to the attention of the medical community as a possible treatment for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). But kava’s history as a largely unregulated substance has made its use somewhat controversial. Research into the medicinal use of kava is ongoing.
Kava and anxiety
Kava has been used as an unregulated herbal treatment for generations. But it was only recently that researchers isolated an active ingredient, called “kavain,” that affects mood receptors and helps people with anxiety.
Researchers don’t completely understand the interaction between kavain and suppressing anxiety. However, this new research shows that the herb can be used in a nonalcoholic beverage to help treat GAD.