Below we answer the frequently asked questions about kava.

Q. What is kava?

Crop of Kava PlantsA. Kava or kava-kava is a plant in the pepper family that originates from the South Pacific Islands. The root of the plant is harvested, dried and ground into a powder that is used to make a form of tea. Kava is all natural and has been a popular drink throughout Polynesia and Melanesia for centuries but is recently gaining popularity in the US as an all natural way to ease stress and wind down at the end of the day. Drinking kava is an integral part of traditional religious and cultural ceremonies and important village social occasions. Historically kava was also prepared and drank for medicinal purposes. Learn more about kava.

Q. What does kava do?

The Latin name for kava kava is Piper Methysticum which translates as intoxicating pepper. The active ingredients in kava, known as kavalactones, interact with the limbic system of the brain including the amygdala, the part of the limbic system that regulates emotions. As a result, Kava is well known to have a relaxing effect on the mind and body.

Q. How do you make kava tea?

Multiple servings can provide best kava experienceA. Traditionally, a drink of kava is prepared like you might brew a tea. The kava root powder is added to a straining bag, for example, a muslin cloth. It doesn’t matter what kind of straining bag you use. Sometimes even women’s panty hose will be used as a straining bag. The bag is then steeped in warm water to begin a kava tea brew. The difference between kava and regular tea is the kneading required to extract the good stuff from the root, the bag is kneaded in the water. This releases the active ingredients and turns the water a muddy brown color. Kava doesn’t look, or even taste good – but it feels good!

The kneading process continues until the tea is brewed and all that is left in the straining bag are the coarse fibers of the root. These are either discarded or set aside for a subsequent rinsing and kneading to create a weaker second brew.

View detailed instructions for preparing kava the traditional way.

Q. How does kava make you feel?

A. When you drink a good quality, potent kava the first thing you may feel is your lips and mouth feeling slightly numb. This is normal. One of the active ingredients in kava has known analgesic effects. The numbing is a sign you are drinking a good kava.

Man asleep in hammock.When drinking kava you are likely to feel calm and content, a greater sense of wellbeing, happier and perhaps even euphoric. Any feelings of fear, anxiety or stress that you may have had will diminish. Your muscles will start to relax, your body will start to feel heavy and you eventually may start to feel sleepy. Here’s a summary of the effects of drinking kava.

How kava makes you feel will also depend greatly on the variety, quality and type of kava you drink. The higher the quality and the fresher the kava the more potent it will be. The effects are also determined by the variety of kava you drink and its’ mix of kavalactones or active ingredients which are identified by the chemotype of any given kava variety.

Q. How long does kava take to kick-in?

A. You’ll generally start to feel kava kick-in 5-15 minutes after drinking a shell. The first sensation you’ll feel is a numbing of the lips, tongue and mouth. You can then expect to start feeling the mental and physical relaxation soon after that. It is recommended that you drink kava on an empty stomach to ensure you feel its effects. If you drink kava on a full stomach, the effects may not kick-in.

There are other reasons the effects of kava may not kick-in when you first start to drink it. Kava works with your body to produce its effects and sometimes that means your body will take time to adjust to receiving the active ingredients in the kava before it responds. In this instance, you may not feel the effects of kava until you’ve been drinking kava for a few days or even weeks consecutively. This is known as Reverse Tolerance.

Q. How long do the effects of kava last?

A. How long the effects of kava last will vary depending on the variety of kava you drink. A good heady kava should uplift your mood and make you feel happier within 30 minutes.

The euphoric and uplifting effects of a good kava may be felt for anywhere between 1-3 hours while the stress relieving and relaxing effects can last longer. It is the heavier varieties of kava that can have prolonged effects. After a few hours you may start to feel sleepy as your muscles relax and your body starts to feel heavy. How long the effects of kava last will also depend on how many kava drinks you have. You can have more than one serving size in a kava drinking session. Read our tips for getting the best effects from your kava drinking experience.

Q. Is kava legal in the U.S?

A. Yes, kava is legal in the U.S and in most countries around the world. Kava is classified as an Herbal Supplement. Kava (Awa) is also an important part of Hawaiian culture and has been consumed for centuries by numerous South Pacific islanders. Kava is drunk on ceremonial and social occasions and also for medicinal purposes too.

Q. Is kava safe?

A. Kava, if consumed correctly, is very safe.
The World Health Organization’s Codex Alimentarius concluded that kava has had at least a 1500-year history of relatively safe use and that kava as a traditional beverage is safe for human consumption.Kava consumption is self-limiting. If you drink too much kava you will start to feel nauseous – it’s kava’s way of telling you, you’ve had enough for the night. Excessive daily consumption of kava over a long period of time can lead to minor dry or itchy skin known as Kava Dermopathy. This is a completely reversible instance and the simple solution is to take a break from drinking kava for a while.One European Study that concluded that kava was linked to liver damage was later refuted for it’s bad science. Unfortunately, the prevalence of misinformation stemming from that study dominates online and regularly turns up in badly researched articles. Learn more.There have been a very, very small number of instances of kava being linked to liver damage. As with any herbal substance or pharmaceutical there is always the possibility of an adverse reaction and the risk of a person being allergic to the product. But this is extremely rare. However, it is recommended that anyone with pre-existing liver problems do not drink kava.

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If you follow these do’s and don’ts of drinking kava you’ll have a safe and happy kava drinking experience.

Any other questions? Email us at info@kalmwithkava.com