We compare kava and alcohol.
Kava and alcohol have some things in common, but differ in important ways. Kava and alcohol can both give you that happy buzz and are great for social relaxation. The benefit of drinking kava is that it has none of the negative effects that are associated with excessive drinking of beer, wine or cocktails. Below we explore kava as a natural alcohol alternative for social relaxation.
The Non-Alcoholic Relaxation Drink
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to have a nice cold beer or two after a long, grueling workday. It feels amazing to finally collapse onto the couch, turn on your favorite TV show, and throw back a refreshing drink as you finally begin to unwind…
Well, at least until the following morning that is, when the hangover kicks in.
You know what can give you the same feeling of relaxation without all the negative drawbacks of beer, wine or a cocktail: a drink of kava, a natural alcohol alternative made from the ground root of the plant Piper Methysticum.
And switching from your favorite alcoholic tipple to an non alcoholic herbal beverage may not be as strange as it sounds – remember many alcoholic drinks have their origins in plants too. For example, tequila is made from agave, and gin with juniper berries. Kava and alcohol have that in common. Switching from alcohol to kava will sound a lot more interesting (and sane) once you learn about all the beneficial effects a Kava root drink can give.
Drinking kava has been common practice for centuries in the South Pacific, where it is used for both ceremonial and social occasions. Some are convinced that regular Kava drinking is mainly responsible for the happy, aloha vibe of the South Pacific islands and the reason why people of these islands are often thought to the happiest and friendliest people in the world.
- elevates your mood without the brain fog
- relieves stress, washes away worries and quiets an anxious mind
- can make you more talkative and feel more social
- eases muscle tension
- promotes relaxation and sleep
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Alcohol: the Good, the Bad, and the More Bad
When you go out drinking, it’s to relax and essentially have a bit of fun. But it is also easy to drink too much and become drunk. Alcohol affects people differently. Some people become happy, giggly drunks, chatting, smiling and tumbling onto people. Others become more amorous and affectionate, but are prone to quickly fall asleep. Unfortunately, excessive consumption of alcohol can also make some people angry, aggressive and quick to start a fight. Of course, many wake up the next day with no memory of the previous nights escapades or drunk dialing calls. Kava and alcohol differ here.
Kava is the Good Without the Bad
Drinking kava has the same positive effects of alcohol without any of the downsides. Similar to alcohol, Kava relaxes mind and body. After a glass you feel lightweight and all the stresses of the day start to fall away. And a drink of kava will certainly give you a happy buzz. It will relax and reduce your inhibitions and make you feel more social. Research has linked kava to an increase in a women’s libido or sex drive and there are traditional stories of kava as an aphrodisiac. But one thing kava will never do is make you more aggressive. Quite the opposite, at ceremonies to mediate disputes in the Pacific Islands kava drinking is common as it promotes peaceful dialogue. Tom Harrison, in his book “Savage Civilization” (1937) said that “You feel friendly… never cross…. You cannot hate with Kava in you.”
And perhaps the biggest advantage of drinking kava as a natural alcohol alternative is that there is a much slimmer chance of a hangover in the morning. When alcohol is metabolized in the body it is first converted into acetaldehyde. Acetaldehyde is rather poisonous and can cause vomiting, headache, rapid heartbeat and flushing. Along with this, Alcohol disturbs the quality of sleep, leads to less Rapid Eye Movement (REM) or deep sleep, and can lead to early waking. These sleep disturbance might contribute to the tiredness and cognitive dysfunction associated with hangover. On the other hand, kava consumption produces no acetaldehyde and actually improves REM sleep with the result that many kava drinkers feeling refreshed the morning following a kava drinking session.
Note: Be advised, mixing Kava and alcohol is not a good idea. Similarly, drinking Kava may hinder your motor functions because it is a mild muscle relaxant, so, it is advised to not drink kava if you intend to drive later, as a safety precaution. While there are no laws associated with drinking kava and driving, it is not advised and in some states there are laws about driving under the influence of any substance. As with any herbal product, if you are unsure about taking kava, consult your doctor. Most will be happy to discuss how it may fit into your lifestyle.