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What Does Kava Do: A Guide to How Kava Can Help Sleep, Stress, & More

April 7, 2022

Kava helping one sleep and relax

“What does kava do?” It’s a question we frequently get and love to answer! The kava plant has been around for centuries and has played a massive role in cultural ceremonies and daily life in the Pacific Islands. While our friends in Samoa, Tonga, and Fiji know and love kava, many people in the U.S. and beyond are unfamiliar with what kava can do for your mind and body. To show you why we love kava, we will outline what kava does, its unique effects, and how drinking kava can support your relaxation needs. Bula!

What is Kava Root?

Kava (Piper methysticum) is a plant grown across the Pacific Islands, mainly in Vanuatu, Fiji, Tonga, and Hawaii. It is a member of the pepper family, and is technically called “kava kava.” The name “kava” comes from the word “awa,” which means bitter in Polynesia. Kava root is harvested, dried, and ground into a powder for consumption. Typically, kava is consumed as tea, but modern forms also include capsules, tinctures, and even kava mints.

What Does Kava Do?

Overall, kava has a largely relaxing, euphoric effect when consumed. When the root and stump of the plant are ground down and consumed, consumers usually experience a sensation of physiological and psychological relaxation. This calming effect comes from active ingredients in kava known as kavalactones. The kavalactones interact with the limbic system of the brain, notably the amygdala. The amygdala regulates emotions, which contributes to the relaxing effect people can experience when drinking kava.

There are thought to be 18 different kavalactones. A large majority of active ingredients in kava come from six, and each kava variety has a different composition of these six kavalactones. So each kava variety, from Borogu to Vula Waka, offers different relaxation effects. Some are more uplifting and great for daytime drinking, others are better for nighttime drinking and great as a sleep aid.

Kava Effects

If you’re curious about what does kava do in terms of effects on the body, don’t worry—we’ve got you covered! Depending on the kava variety and whether it is heady, heavy, or balanced, people can experience, euphoria, relaxation, sedation—or some mix of all of the above—when drinking kava. Other kava side effects can include the following:

  • Feeling happy/euphoric
  • Mild sleepiness
  • Relaxed muscles
  • Calm sensation
  • Mental ease

Each kava variety is unique in the level and type of calm it brings. We group kavas into the three categories of “heavy,” “heady,” and “balanced.”

  • Heady kavas offer stronger mental relaxation effects. They can help boost your mood, make you feel happier, or even euphoric. We’ve found heady kavas, like our House Blend kava, can even help you feel more calm and sociable.
  • Heavy kavas live up to their name and can help your body feel heavy, relaxed, and calm. They’re typically more sedative, so many customers use heavy kavas as sleep aids. For example, Melomelo is one of the heavy kavas we carry that is very aptly named because it helps you feel mellow!
  • Balanced kavas are exactly what their name implies: they’re balanced. Balanced kavas like our Borogu blend the effects of heady and heavy kavas for an even mental and physical relaxation effect.

It’s important to familiarize yourself with the different kava side effects, categories, and which varieties may help you reach your relaxation goals.

Kava Uses

For centuries kava has been used in traditional, ceremonial situations. As kava has been adopted into the U.S., it has become popular as an herbal supplement so anyone can experience some natural calm or, as we call it, “kalm.” Below, we’ve laid out a few of the reasons why our kava community drinks kava to relax the island way:

Natural Sleep Aid

Racing thoughts and tension in the body can make it difficult to fall asleep. Kava’s ability to relax and soothe the mind can be a great way to help you fall asleep quicker and stay asleep longer. Many of our customers drink kava to help them unwind, relax their muscles, and sink to sleep naturally.

Kava Recommendations

We recommend choosing a heavy kava for sleep aid. They help your body feel heavy and sedated, relaxing your mind so you can sink into a natural sleep. Our heavy kava varieties are our Vanuatu kavas Borongoru® and Melomelo and our Fijian Vula Waka kava.

Anxiety & Stress Relief

Anxiety and stress are common reasons why many people drink kava. The parts of the brain connected to anxiety, fear, and stress regulation are highly receptive to kavalactones, making kava a great herbal supplement if you’re looking to calm down and quiet your mind naturally.

Kava Recommendations

Anxiety and stress can pop up at any point of the day, so we recommend drinking balanced kavas. Balanced kavas like Vanuatu Borogu or Fijian Loa Waka® are great to drink at any time, as they don’t have the drowsy effects of heavy kavas. Try making a cup of iced kava stress relief tea in the morning and taking it with you to work so you always have some “kalm” on hand.

Boost in Mood & Sociability

Kava can be a great way to boost your mood and sociability. One of the notable effects of kava is the feeling of euphoria, especially with heady kavas. Having that extra boost in mood translates very easily into feeling more sociable. When you’re feeling happy, you typically feel more open to interacting with friends and loved ones!

Kava Recommendations

Heady kavas are great for helping you feel more happy and sociable. We recommend sipping on Tongan Pouni Ono and our Special Edition Samoa Ava for an extra mood boost and cheer in your social circles.

Relax Muscles

The mild, sedative effects of kava help relax tight muscles and relieve tension in the body. Many customers enjoy drinking kava after a strenuous workout or sports competition to help their mind and muscles unwind.

Kava Recommendations

Choosing a heavy kava can help ease your muscles and relax. Heavy kavas help your body feel sedated, releasing tension from your muscles naturally. For a heavy kava, we recommend our Vanuatu kavas Borongoru® and Melomelo and our Fijian Vula Waka kava.

Unwind Naturally & Buy Kava Online

If you’re ready to start relaxing the island way and experiencing some kava calm, shop our selection of Premium Noble kavas now—bula!

If you’re interested in wholesale opportunities and would like to add kava to your retail store, kava bar, or coffee shop, check out our wholesale site at www.buywholesalekava.com!

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