Kava, The Next Big Thing for Wellness
Kava kava, or piper methysticum, is a tropical shrub native to Polynesia. The Pacific Islanders have been cultivating and cherishing the kava plant for thousands of years, using it for medicinal and ceremonial purposes. Now people all around the world are praising the benefits of kava and using it in overcoming anxiety and other modern ailments.
Anxiety Reliever - Those who suffer from anxiety often experience unwarranted fear or distress that can drastically interfere with their emotional and social well-being. There is extensive clinical evidence that proves kava root extract is effective at treating anxiety and related medical conditions such as depression.
Better Sleep - Kavalactones, the known active compounds in kava, slow down messages from the brain to the body, producing a sedative effect. Studies have shown that consuming kava before heading to bed decreases the amount of time needed to fall asleep and improves overall sleep quality.
Regulate Hormonal Fluctuations - Hot flashes, irritability, tension, nervousness and sleep disruption are common PMS and menopause symptoms in which kava can offer some help.
Lessens the Need for Addictive Substances - Kava can be used as a healthier alternative to drugs, alcohol, or tobacco use. Due to its relaxant effect and anxiolytic capabilities, kava can help people cope with cigarette cravings and the associated anxiety.
Combat Physical Effects of Stress - Prolonged anxiety puts our immunity and cardivascular system at risk. Adaptogens, like kava kava root, help counter act the physiological effects of stress at a molecular level.
A kava kava high isn't really a high, it's more like an augmented state of relaxation.
The kava preperation will be a major factor in the felt affect. If you consume kava in a liquid form, whether as a kava tea or kava extract, you will instantly feel a numbing sensation on your lips and mouth. Kava is a natural anesthetic and the numbing sensation is a prized characteristic from a kava connoisseur's perspective. It's an enjoyable feeling, though a little intense if it's your first time. Unfortunately, if you take kava in pill or capsule form, you won't get this full kava experience.
After consuming kava you'll start to feel relaxed and a general sense of well-being within five minutes, which is why many people rely on it to help them come down from anxiety attacks or moments of extreme stress. Learn more on how to stop an anxiety attack with kava.
The known active ingredients in kava are phytochemicals called kavalactones that give kava it's calming, anxiolytic, and euphoric effects.
Kavalactones appear to work on the limbic system of the brain, an area indirectly associated with emotional excitability, due to its inhibition of the emotional centers of the brain cortex. This is probably why many people use kava as a natural Xanax.
Common Side Effects:
Gastrointestinal Discomfort and Nausea - often due to the large amount of liquid consumed. Side effects of kava tea can be minimized by using a kava extract or capsule preperation.
There were previous studies linking kava use to liver damage, but those reports have been proven faulty. Although if you experience any symptoms of early liver damage including: yellowed eyes and skin (jaundice), fatigue, and dark urine, stop consuming kava immediately and contact your health care provider.
How to Prepare Kava
Traditionally, the root of the kava plant is uprooted, and then ground, steeped in water, and made into a kava tea before it is consumed as a non-alcoholic beverage. For the steeping process, muslin bags are filled with kava root pulp and then submerged into warm water while being continuously squeezed resulting in a muddy-green beverage. See a fool proof recipe on how to make kava tea.
Kava is commonly consumed in this fashion in Vanuatu, Fiji, Tonga, and Hawaii where fresh kava root is available. If you don't have fresh kava available, there are a few other options when it comes to how to prepare kava:
- Dried Kava Root Powder - Dried kava root can be purchased online, and should result a more authentic kava tea versus the instant kava mix. This form of kava is prepared in the same fashion as fresh kava root.
- Instant Kava Mix - Instant kava does not require any steeping or straining; just mix it in water or other beverages and enjoy!
- Kava Capsules - Kava capsules are one of the most widely available kava products and can be found in national health food chains like Whole Foods and Sprouts. There will be a much slower onset of results with pills or capsules. Expect to wait at least 2-3 weeks for therapeutic relief.
- Kava Extracts - New technology allows manufacturers to preserve kava's benefits at its peak and concentrate them into an extract. Extracts are the preferred method when using kava for medicinal puposes because it makes dosing flexible and easy.
- The best way to find your ideal kava dosage is to start with a small amount and increase the dosage over time as you become familiar with the effects it generates for you.
- Traditionally Prepared Kava Tea: 150-500mg of kava root per four-ounce serving is typical. Many Pacific Islanders are accustomed to drinking multiple bowls of kava per day and it’s not uncommon for people to consume a kavalactones dosage of up to 2500 mg daily for years at a time. Although there have been no recorded ill effects in indigenous groups that frequently consume these high amounts of kava, the Kava Committee’s recommended kavalactones dosage stands at a maximum of 300 mg per day.
- Generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety, and depression: 70-210mg of kavalactone has been proven clinically effective. The moderate amount of kavalactones can reduce anxiety while leaving you alert and lucid, making it suitable for daytime use.
- Better sleep for Insomnia Relief - 150-200mg of kavalactones, taken 30 minutes to an hour before bed, can help encourage quicker sleep onset and better quality of sleep for people suffering from insomnia.
You might be wondering, is kava bad for you? No, not at all. Actually, the opposite is true. For once, there's a natural medicine that is acutally nourishing to the body.
Kava can be transformational for your wellbeing, but care needs to be taken to ensure that you are consuming the best kava kava available. Concerns about the possibility of liver toxicity from kava use are for the most part a result of improper kava extraction, mixing kava with hepatotoxic drugs or heavy alcohol use.
Kava extracts and other products should only be made from kava root, not from kava stem or leaves. Consuming improperly cultivated and processed kava is potentially harmful.
Where to Buy Kava
It is imperative as a consumer to know where and how your kava is harvested and extracted to ensure a safe and quality product.
Although the tradition and ritual of making and drinking kava tea is romantic and nostalgic, I find that it is difficult to find a reputable supplier of dried kava root in a highly unregulated market.
A more regulated kava product like an herbal extract is prefered because they undergo lab testing, have more strict guidelines, and generally expected to meet high quality and safety standards.
1Hour Break® Premium Kava Root Extract uses only organic heirloom Borogu kava from a small kava farm in Vanuatu. The extract comes in a small spray bottle that can fit in your pocket for easy dosing throughout the day. This is a great option for a person that wants to use kava medicinally.