Kava Kava, often known only as ‘Kava,’ flourished in popularity over the last couple of decades. Native to the Pacific Islands, Kava root has been used in ceremonies in indigenous cultures. Nowadays, Kava bars have begun popping up on the mainland, and people love the kava elixir’s effects.
What is kava? To prepare kava, the root and underground stem are gathered from the small shrub and then made into extracts, capsules, or tablets. If you consume kava in a ‘bar’ setting, then you typically drink the root blended with water from a shell. With an earthy, muddy taste, it will not be the most delicious drink, but the effects make the bitter notes worthwhile. Traditionally, groups consume kava in a ceremonial setting to honor the plant spirit. The relaxation experienced after drinking kava, or taking it in tablet form, is filled with clarity, rather than foggy thoughts often associated with beverages that offer similar effects. Kava might also be called ava pepper, as it is a member of the pepper family, ava root, or kawa. The Latin word for kava is piper methysticum.
Kava’s benefits Kave seems to offer an abundance of benefits that can aid in healing physical, emotional, and mental obstacles. One of kava’s major draw-ins is its ability to reduce anxiety. Some individuals recovering from substance abuse consume kava as an alternative to other substances. As anxiety lessens, kava can make an individual feel more chatty than usual. Alcohol often acts as a social lubricant for those in social settings. Kava can stand in for a healthier option that still brings about similar effects. Kava can also stand-in for other prescription drugs, such as Xanax and Ativan. If you are hoping to raise GABA levels in your brain, to calm neurotransmitter activity, kava might be an alternative medicine option for you. When consuming kava, some people experience a numbing sensation in their tongue. The feeling does not last too long and is entirely normal. In some instances, kava can be used to soothe sore teeth or gums.
Is it safe to drink? The idea of consuming ‘plant medicine’ might sound unfamiliar and daunting to some. Questioning what you are consuming is always a good thing, as mindful consumption in and of itself can be incredibly healing. A decent amount of clinical research has occurred concerning kava. Kava might not be for everyone, as it might have detrimental effects on the liver. If consumed in high doses over a long period, kava can bring about adverse effects seen physically through dry, yellowing skin. As in all things, drink kava in moderation. Kava should not be consumed if you are on prescription drugs, as it can lessen their effect and potentially cause adverse side effects. Kava should not be mixed with alcohol, either, as both require a lot of work for the liver.
Forms of kava The ground kava root offers a less processed option for consumption and is the traditional way to enjoy the kava root. Some ground kava root steeps in water before being kneaded, strained, and poured to serve. This method takes a bit longer as the steeping requires time. Consuming ‘pure’ kava from a shell can be a fun experience, but you likely will not be spending your time at a kava bar multiple nights every week. Micronized kava, a fine powder, shows its effects quickly. You can stir the powder into any drink, without having to steep, knead, or strain. Lastly, and another popular method of consumption, kava concentrate offers a more straightforward way, too. Kava concentrate is a concentrated drink from the ground kava root that can be added to any drink. Beyond the above, you might be able to find kava tea or supplements at your local health food store. Typically, they line the same shelves as oil of oregano and fish oil pills.
Your dosage Most people enjoy kava before bedtime, as it allows for a night of sleep with great ease. If you are looking to ease anxiety throughout your daily routine, then you might enjoy a smaller dosage in the morning or around midday. Varying dosages are recommended, so the ‘ideal’ kava dosage remains unclear. Generally, 100 – 300 mg per day seems to be suitable. If more than 210 mg of kava is consumed, more psychoactive experiences might occur.