What exactly IS Kava?
Kava is a drink prepared from the roots of Piper methysticum, a plant native to Hawaii, Fiji, Vanuatu, and many other South Pacific islands. Kava has been consumed in these islands for at least 3,000 years, and continues to play a significant part in their culture and tradition. It is routinely used as a relaxing drink, but also serves as a curative agent for common ailments.
Kava is legal in the USA and most other countries. Kava was banned in Germany in 2002; but the ban was overturned in 2014 when Germany's Federal Administrative Court ruled it unlawful and inappropriate, stating that "the risk of using kava was not unusually high and mere doubts over a medicinal product did not justify it being banned". From 2002 to date there have been "volumes of scientific research, making Piper methysticum one of the most scientifically researched plants in the world, all vindicating kava".
Kava is not addictive and does not require ever-increasing dosage to achieve the same effects. In fact, most consumers report an increased sensitivity to kava's effects over time, and are able to reduce consumption while still achieving the desired results. This leads to cumulative increased effectiveness over time.
Not all kava is alike. Several types of kava are defined by the Islanders, but the primary groups are “Noble” and “two day”. Noble kava is a type of kava that is considered safe and desirable for daily use. Two day kava is so named because it can produce undesirable effects that last for two days, including acute nausea, lethargy, and a hangover similar to that caused by overuse of alcohol. Though two day kava is sometimes used for ceremonial or medicinal purposes, daily use, or "noble" kava is the only type of kava consumed by Pacific Islanders on a routine basis.
As a relaxing drink, the effects of kava are euphoria and a sense of well-being. Mental awareness is not diminished, and the calming effects are similar to prescription anti-depressants and benzodiazepines, but without the dullness and lethargy these drugs often induce. Kava has the ability to reduce excitability and sensitivities of the nervous system. Kava has demonstrated substantial anti-anxiety, anti-insomnia, anti-spasmodic, anti-epileptic, and neuroprotective effects in many published studies.
The calming effects of kava 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 of kava has a different composition of these six kavalactones. This composition is what brings about the variation in effects between strains.
Many kava suppliers sell kava that native Pacific Islanders would not drink. Some sellers are not aware of the differences, and others simply don't care. To experience the full benefits that kava has to offer, we strongly suggest you only drink kava that is clearly identified as "noble" or "daily use".
Kava has been used by many as a replacement for alcohol. Kava is also used as a muscle relaxant and pain reliever, and as a sleep aid. Many current kava consumers are former alcohol and prescription drug users who have been able to safely transition off and discontinue those substances
"The man who drinks kava is still a man, but the man who drinks liquors becomes a beast." This traditional Hawaiian saying is one of the greatest truths about kava.
In some cases the full effects of kava are not felt the first few times kava is consumed. This phenomenon is known as “reverse tolerance”. Most individuals experience this effect to some degree, but virtually all report satisfying results after one or two weeks of routine use.
Kava doesn't make you someone you're not, it helps you be who you are. The effects of kava are not harsh like those of prescription drugs or alcohol. These substances usually have a profound and pronounced effect that is impossible to ignore. Kava is more subtle, and works in harmony with the body and mind. This is one of the qualities that makes kava so highly praised by its native consumers, whose subsistence requires an active lifestyle and full mental awareness.
Traditional use of kava requires that the proper strain be selected and water extraction be used as the method of preparation. By observing these guidelines, kava has been safely consumed for over three thousand years.