Kava is an herb that originates from the Pacific Islands, where its consumption has been a long-standing tradition. It is made from the roots of a plant called piper methysticum.
For centuries, it has been used as a bridge between the physical and spiritual worlds because it has potent anxiolytic properties. In the past decade, kava has undergone a surge in popularity as a recreational beverage.
Table of Contents:
- What is kava?
- History of kava
- What are the benefits of kava?
- What are the different ways to consume kava?
- What are the side effects of kava?
- Frequently Asked Questions
WHAT IS KAVA?
Kava is a member of the pepper family found in the South Pacific. Kava is traditionally consumed as a beverage and can be consumed recreationally or as a social drink. In particular, kava is preferred by people in the South Pacific for ceremonial purposes.
This type of kava is made from the rootstock of Piper methysticum plants and is commonly referred to as "black" kava. The kava plant is non-toxic and has been used for medicinal purposes in the South Pacific for many years.
Kava is believed to have a therapeutic effect on the body because of the active ingredient called kavalactones, which bind with receptors in the brain. The presence of kavalactones may also explain why some users experience feelings of euphoria when consuming the drink.
Kava is made by grinding the rootstock of the kava plant into a paste, which can then be formed into various forms such as tablets, tea bags, or even in liquids. In the South Pacific, kava is often consumed in social settings, such as family gatherings.
Sometimes, it is brewed into alcoholic beverages, but these types of kava are not considered safe. Kava has become more prevalent in many parts of the United States as a type of alternative medicine.
Many kava users claim that drinking kava can help them feel relaxed, energized, and relieve depression. In addition, kava is often used to reduce stress, lack of sleep and as a way to relieve pain.
HISTORY OF KAVA
Kava has been used as a medicinal drink for hundreds of years in the South Pacific Islands, including Fiji, Vanuatu, Tonga, and more. Local people also consume the roots of the kava plant.
Kava is derived from the root of "Piper methysticum," a shrubby member of the pepper family native to the South Pacific Islands. It seems that Pacific Islanders have used kava for over 300 years.
The roots of piper methysticum are usually ground into a pulp and then mixed with water. The pulp is then strained through a cloth to remove the bitter substance that the root produces.
The roots are the most used since the leaves and stems have a high concentration of lactones, responsible for the psychoactive effects of kava consumption.
Kava is a traditional drink in many parts of the South Pacific Islands, and its use dates back to early Polynesian explorers. In the past, women also used kava as medication during childbirth because it helped reduce the child's pain and swelling in the first few days of life.
Kava's medicinal uses were also recognized in Hawaii and other Pacific islands, and local people used the plant's roots to help with colds, muscle pains, headaches, and menstrual problems. In modern times, kava has been used to treat anxiety and stress-related conditions.
However, kava is still used for ceremonial and medicinal purposes by modern Pacific Islanders. In Fiji, kava is a staple in most households, and many ceremonies are accompanied by kava drinking.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF KAVA?
Kava can be consumed as an herbal remedy for anxiety, stress, and insomnia. Kava root extract is believed to work by affecting specific receptors in our brain that produce calming feelings. It may also affect other chemicals that control nerve function in our bodies.
As with many herbal remedies, few scientific studies have tested kava for its healing properties in humans. Like most herbal remedies, the effects of kava can vary from person to person.
But, some studies have suggested that kava may be effective as a natural treatment for other conditions, including ulcers, skin conditions, breathing problems, and certain cancers.
Kava may also help with the following:-
- Reduce insomnia: Kava can help to reduce the severity of insomnia if consumed in a limited quantity. In studies, kava has been found to have a sleep-inducing effect in adults and children after a few weeks of use.
- Helps with Anxiety: Kava is as effective as prescription anti-anxiety medications in relieving symptoms related to anxiety. It may also help with social phobia (fear of social situations), PMS, and menopause symptoms associated with anxiety.
- Menstrual cramps: Studies involving healthy women suggest that using kava before or during their periods may relieve menstrual pain, PMS, and premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
- Treat Sores: It helps to treat sore throat or mouth sores (including canker sores). In clinical studies, kava was found to help treat sore throat and mouth sores in 30% of patients.
- Benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH): A small study showed that kava might significantly improve benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH). BPH is a common condition in which the prostate gland becomes enlarged, often causing urinary problems in men over 50.
- Kava assists with weight loss: Kava may help reduce the symptoms of overeating (or binge eating) and may assist with weight loss by reducing feelings of anxiety associated with over-eating.
- Treat Ulcers: Kava can treat ulcers and other forms of stomach pain. The anti-inflammatory effect of kava leads to a reduction in stomach pains associated with ulcers and may also help reduce the risk of heart disease and certain cancers.
- Skin Treatment: This herbal remedy may help to treat the discomfort and itching associated with a skin condition called eczema.
- Cures Breathing Problems: Kava has been used to treat breathing problems (including asthma) and bronchitis (an inflammation of the lining in the lungs). In some cases, kava is more effective than conventional medications for bronchitis.
- For Diabetes: Kava can be for diabetes and other blood sugar problems, including high blood glucose levels and low blood sugar levels. It is thought that kava may reduce the risk of diabetes by normalizing blood sugars, improving digestion, and increasing insulin sensitivity.
WHAT ARE THE SIDE EFFECTS OF KAVA?
One of the most important things to consider when taking a new supplement is the potential for adverse side effects. Kava has been around for centuries and is documented as safe; however, potential side effects have been known to occur.
Following are some potential side effects of kava:
1. Nausea: Nausea may occur if you take large amounts of kava root. Avoid taking kava with alcohol because that combination can easily cause nausea and vomiting. People prone to getting nauseated from taking supplements should avoid kava or only take the smallest possible dose the first time they take it.
2. Constipation: Some kava users reported constipation as a side effect of taking a product that contains kavalactones, one of the compounds found in the herb. Kava root is sometimes recommended to aid in constipation.
However, suppose you are taking a product that contains kavalactones as an ingredient. In that case, it is suggested that you should not take kava along with other products that contain magnesium, including Epsom salt.
Consult your doctor before taking these products together if you are already prone to constipation.
3. Dry mouth: Kava can cause dry mouth in some users. If you already suffer from dry mouth from other causes, you should use kava cautiously as your condition could be made worse if you choose to take it regularly.
4. Allergic reaction: Some people are allergic to kava, although it is not as common as allergies to other herbal supplements. If you experience swelling of the face and tongue, hives, or difficulty breathing, seek medical attention immediately.
It is a good idea for anyone who has allergies to be cautious when trying out new supplements. Always start with the smallest possible dose and monitor any reactions after you begin taking the supplement.
5. Gastrointestinal upset: In addition, there is a possibility that the use of kava could cause gastrointestinal upset. If you experience any gastrointestinal issues after trying out kava root as a supplement for sleep or anxiety, contact your doctor for advice immediately.
6. Increased urination: Some users reported increased urination as a side effect of kava use. Some people said that their urine turned yellow while taking this herb, although this is not typical.
Here are a few possible long-term side effects of kava:-
Kava dependence: People who consume kava on a regular basis can become dependent on kava. If you use the herb daily, your body can become accustomed to the herb's effects, and when you stop taking kava, your body will feel a little out of sorts.
Liver problems: Some users of kava have reported liver problems in the long term. If you have symptoms of a possible liver problem such as nausea, vomiting, or fatigue when you stop using kava.
Shortness of breath: Some individuals who use kava notice that they have trouble breathing when they stop taking it. It can be a severe problem in some cases, so anyone who notices a change in their breathing pattern should contact their doctor right away.
Increase in blood pressure - Kava can increase blood pressure. However, there have been some reports that kava can raise blood pressure levels. If you take it, monitor your blood pressure on time to ensure that your blood pressure remains normal.
So, is kava safe?
Anything can cause side effects if you take too much of it, so it is just a matter of being careful when taking kava. It is best to look for the recommended dosage. Talk to your doctor before starting any new herbal supplement, including kava root.
Tell them about any other medications or supplements you are using and mention all herbs and supplements you are currently taking. Your doctor will be able to advise you as to whether kava is safe for your specific needs.
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT WAYS TO CONSUME KAVA?
Raw: To make a raw kava drink, soak the roots in water overnight, leaving the roots slightly covered with water. The morning after, strain out any pieces of dirt and add some Kava to 8 cups of cold water, which you need to refill every 4-7 days.
Raw Kava root is also an excellent skin treatment for acne, dry skin, eczema, psoriasis, and sunburn.
- Dry – You can buy Kava root powder and mix it with water of your choice. The powdered form is usually better if you have sensitive digestion. The powder is also great to put in smoothies or yogurt if you cannot drink the kava straight away.
- Tea – Some people prefer to make Kava Tea. To make one, you need to mix 2 teaspoons of kava powder with 8 ounces of water and then simmer it for approx. 20-30 minutes. Once completed, strain the tea and drink it warm or at room temperature.
- Liquid – You can buy Kava root extract. It comes in three forms: liquid, soft gel capsules, and powder. These are the easiest to consume, though you need a higher dosage than the above methods.
Note: With other dietary supplements, people taking kava mustn't mix it with prescription drugs. It can inhibit its effectiveness or cause more severe side effects.
The Dosage of Kava:
You may be wondering what dose of kava to take. There is no exact amount that works for all people, so it's best to start low and slowly increase your dose if needed.
You can also split your kava in half and drink one cup in the morning and another in the evening to avoid overdosing. No clear guidelines have been drawn related to kava dosage, so it is essential to be careful with this substance and other herbal remedies.
There is no clarity or regulation with kava dosage, so people may not necessarily know what is safe for them. The recommended dose of kava is between 100 and 300 mg per day. Currently, the FDA has not approved the use of kava for medical conditions.
- Is it legal to consume kava?
Yes, kava is legal and can be consumed for personal use as a dietary supplement. Kava is legal in most countries and is generally regulated as a food or dietary supplement.
In 2002, the FDA issued a recommendation stating that kava products have been linked to potentially adverse effects on the liver. The FDA pointed to reports of hepatitis, cirrhosis, and liver failure in other countries.
Reports of kava and liver problems led to new regulations in Germany, France, Canada, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. However, in Poland, the consumption of kava is banned.
Since then, the FDA has issued consumer advice, and there have been disputes over whether or not kava causes liver damage. Although kava is legal in the U.S., the FDA recommends not to use it if you already have liver problems or are taking medications that affect it.
- How long does kava stay in your system?
Kava stays in your system for around eight hours after it is taken orally. The drink can stay in your system for 1-5 hours for those who consume kava in a tea or tincture.
Of course, it will depend on whether the kava was extracted from an organic or a natural wet root. There are some differences in the properties of tea versus tincture. Extracts of the wet same kava root are similar in speed (3-6 hours for tea and tinctures and up to 8-12 hours for the wet leaf).
Some brands claim that their kava is 70 % or 90 % assimilated in 2 hours. If you have taken kava from a brand that takes less time and it has been 8 hours since your last dose, then you are mostly cured of the effects of kava.
If you are still experiencing mild sedative effects, you will find that it is best to wait longer until the effects are gone.
- Does kava show up on a drug test?
Many people have drunk Kava tea to help their anxiety, insomnia, and mood problems. But some believe that this drink may show up on a drug test. To find out whether kava has the potential to show up on a drug test, we looked into the results of drug tests taken by those who are currently taking prescription drugs.
Their results showed that kava is not detectable in any urine or blood sample. This finding supports the World Health Organization (WHO) claim that kava has no potential for abuse.
- Does kava help with anxiety?
To help you overcome anxiety, kava can be a natural alternative. Kava is a relaxing herbal drink in the form of an infusion made up of roots and leaves. It is used to help relieve anxiety, promote restfulness, soothe the nervous system, and improve mood.
Kava has been used as a therapeutic aid for centuries and has proven beneficial in numerous studies. However, it's not without its side effects, so make sure you do your research before leaping to use kava.
- Does kava get you high?
No, kava doesn't make people high at all. It's a legal, regulated beverage in many countries and has been used since ancient times to ease pain, insomnia, anxiety, and stress.
You may have a buzz, like drinking a little alcohol, but it doesn't necessarily get you high at least not in the way like alcohol. When you drink kava, your lips and tongue can feel numb for a few minutes, probably due to the effects of certain kavalactones.
- What does kava taste like?
Sour and aromatic. It comes from the root of the kava plant cultivated in the South Pacific, Hawaii, Samoa, Fiji, Tonga, and Vanuatu. It has a grassy taste and earthy aroma with hints of tangerine or grapefruit.
A cup of kava tea has a slight numbing effect on the tongue and lips. Many drinkers enjoy the slightly numbing sensation; others do not.
Kava is available in powder, tincture, and capsule form for those who don't like the taste of kava or for those who would prefer to swallow it without having to taste it.
- What does kava feel like?
It may be hard to explain what exactly kava feels like. But, many people have described it as after taking a sip of kava, the intense pain in the head will begin to subside, and you will feel relaxed, calm, and ready to tackle the day.
Some describe a very mellow feeling, while others report feeling very relaxed, while some people compare it to being drunk yet not feeling drunk. The effects will vary from person to person and based on their expectations and tolerance for certain things.
- What happens if we combine kava and alcohol?
If you drink kava while drinking alcohol, the combination may lead to unpleasant side effects, such as dizziness and disorientation. Kava is typically consumed after a meal or in moderation within a few hours of bedtime, so it's best to avoid alcohol with this substance.
Alcohol interacts with sedative-hypnotic compounds such as kavalactones and potentiates their potentially dangerous effects. It's not wise to make a habit of combining kava and alcohol.
- How long does it take kava to kick in?
Kava can work within 10-20 minutes. The effects of kava can last up to 8 hours. If you have a sensitive stomach or take other medications, you may notice the calming effect within 30 minutes.
It should take about 15 minutes before the relaxing effects of kava begin. A lot depends on how fast your body absorbs the active ingredients in kava, namely kavalactones (also found in valerian root).
- What are the effects of Kavalactones?
While the phrase "kava" brings to mind images of Polynesian culture, this plant-based psychoactive is native to the South Pacific. Kavalactones have been used for centuries in traditional medicine and are said to be more effective than modern drugs.
- Is kava addictive?
Kava is usually billed as a safe herbal alternative to prescription drugs, but a little more research might be needed to confirm that.
While there are no facts about kava as an addictive drug, several people had reported experiencing withdrawal symptoms when they stopped kava. It is also not known precisely how kava affects the body.
- How does kava work?
Kava's main ingredient is called kavalactone. Kavalactone in the kava extract is believed to give a calming effect that helps reduce anxiety and stress.
To know how kava works, you first need to know about its biochemical properties. Kavain, which has soothing properties similar to benzodiazepines (like Valium), is also found in kava.
It is said to have a relaxing effect on the central nervous system. Kavalactones are extracted from the root by powdered dried or fresh rootstock. You may also find kava extracts as tinctures and tablets.
As a natural remedy, kava has been used for depression, anxiety, and insomnia for thousands of years. Kava is safe for adults to use when taken in a specific quantity. The side effects can include nausea, dizziness, or drowsiness for some people.
Kava root is legal and considered a dietary supplement in the U.S. The FDA does not regulate kava as a dietary supplement and states that kava should not be used if you have liver problems or take prescription medications that affect the liver.
If you experience any unusual effects with regular use of kava, consult your health care provider. We hope this article helps you to understand everything about kava. Comment down below for any doubts or suggestions.