Kava Recipe – French Press Kava

Kava Recipe - French Press KavaThis is a simple Kava recipe that has worked amazingly well for me, and I thought I would share it with you:

1. Take 6 to 8 tablespoons of kava powder and place in a FRENCH PRESS COFFEE MAKER.

2. Add cold water and stir.

3. Let it sit for about 20 minutes till it starts to settle to the bottom.

4. Press down the French press plunger until it will go no farther (slow steady pressure), then pour off the clear, pure, very potent drink.

5. Raise the plunger, add some more water, and repeat until the drink is too weak to have any numbing effect on the tongue.

This is a great way to make ‘awa for a small group or keep it available for multiple doses (keep it in the fridge).  I have kept it for up to a week, and the Kava tasted just as it did the first day I made it, and had the same kick.

Try it. I think you’ll like it.

Aloha,
Robert

Kava Recipe – Kava Chameleon

Kava Recipe - Kava ChameleonLet me first say that this drink is both strong and can be very spicy, so if you prefer a milder-tasting drink (or a spicier one), you can adjust the spices to your own preference; I also like this recipe a lot because, even cold, it is a great relaxing drink for a night when you would enjoy a warm cup of tea.

Ingredients:

6 tbsp kava (powdered or shredded kava both work great, but shredded is what I prefer)

2 cups purified/spring water

1 cup soy or rice milk (chocolate is especially good in this recipe)

a few mint sprigs to taste (I use a large pinch per recipe)

1/2 tsp cinnamon

ginger to taste (optional)

Preparation:

In a blender, pour in the kava, water, soy milk and cinnamon and turn the blender on for just a few seconds to stir the ingredients, then let sit for about 30 minutes. This is the reason I prefer shredded kava: the cinnamon seems to either pull out more kavalactones, or just adds a greater effect to the kavalactones that make them even more relaxing (also note that if using powdered kava, you really only need to let the mixture sit for about 15 minutes).

After these ingredients have steeped long enough, turn the blender on high and leave on for about 3 minutes, then add the mint and ginger if desired. Blend for another minute or two. Then you can either choose to strain the kava into a cup with a muslin bag or leave the kava in and just drink everything to ensure that no kavalactones are missed. This recipe is very strong; if you are not experienced with kava, either use less kava, do not drink all of it at once, or share it with a friend.

Kava Recipe – Very Strong Kava

Kava Recipe - Very Strong KavaHere is a method I have developed which seems to work quite all right. Occasionally it can be a bit strong, so drink it slowly over some time (1 cup over 20 minutes or more).

(6) 2/3 tbsp kava

2 cups warm water–140 degrees Fahreheit or so… I boil it and let it cool for a bit (5 minutes)

1 cup milk

Blend on highest setting in a blender for 5 minutes. At this point, the beverage should look very dark, like coffee with cream. Dump this into secondary container(s). Then put a cloth paint strainer (unused for paint *wink*) over the blender pitcher. Pour the kava mix back into the blender-pitcher through the strainer, and let it cool for a bit. Squeeze the strainer dry, and save the used kava root (if you care to). You can get these paint strainers at Home Depot for maybe 60-80 cents a strainer. Very inexpensive, and it’s the best straining method I’ve used so far.

Now you have some fairly strong kava sitting in your blender pitcher. At this point I usually add a lot of chocolate syrup and some sugar (about 3-6 tbsp) for palatability. Blend again for ~30 seconds, until it is very dark and well mixed. Then transfer it to another container if you need to, and let it cool in the fridge overnight. Letting it cool works best for me in terms of effect. I have no idea why this is the case…does anyone know?

Next morning, you will have a good deal of strong kava (about 3 cups of liquid). Drink it slow, like I said. This will definitely bring on effects that I can only describe as inebriating. If drunk too quickly, it can be rather strong to say the least, so please consume in moderation.

When used with respect, though, I can say the effects are very nice. In any event, use caution and common sense, and don’t necessarily start with the amount I’ve used.

Take care,
Big Kap

If you have any great Kava recipes, please let us know.  If we like it we will post your idea and/or recipe and send off a free package of 4oz Powdered Kava Root from any one of the Kava suppliers we list or review here as a personal “Thank you!” to you.

Kava Recipe – Coconut Milk Kava

Kava Recipe - Coconut Milk KavaThis is a “new” kava recipe that I have heard alluded to but have never actually found. After some experimenting, I think I have found an efficient way to make a strong kava brew with some taste to it, and hopefully which maintains the traditional spirit.

1. Mix anywhere from 1/2 oz – 2 oz powdered kava root (depending on the number of consumers and the desired strength of the brew) with 1 can coconut milk, then fill can with water and add it, also. I have also used a can of coconut juice (sweetened water with chunks of coconut) instead of water with excellent results. Coconut definitely helps lessen the bitter-soil taste of kava without overpowering the characteristic “kava” taste.

2. Blend intermittently in short bursts for about 5 minutes. I believe the longer you blend the pulp, the more kavalactones are released.

3. Pour into nylon stocking or other strainer and wring out into large kava bowl (there will be a thick white emulsion that I call “Kava Butter”; I believe this is potent stuff and try to scrape all of it off of the strainer, but its texture can make it a little bit tough to gulp down from the cup.) Make sure to wring as much liquid from the pulp mass as possible, but take care not to tear the strainer (important for nylon hose).

4. This should make about 2-3 coconut shells or coffee cups of kava, which can be drunk in 1/2 cup increments. Personally I prefer to knock back 1-2 shells/cups quickly and then relax in a dimly lit room and enjoy that warm, relaxed feeling.

5. Pour the kava from the strainer back into the blender (especially if you used a larger amount). Even though traditionally kava is not kept but rather consumed immediately, I have found that it keeps for a day or two in the refrigerator and since I use 2 oz at a sitting, I generally get 2-3 batches out of this amount. You can also start with a smaller amount (1/2 oz) and save it and add another 1/2 oz per batch.

6. Finally, the amounts above are guidelines. I find 1/2 an ounce to be a rather small amount for me (200+ lbs.), but it would probably be fine for a smaller person. If I were having a gathering in which several people were going to partake, I may use even 3 or 4 oz, depending on the type of heaviness I wanted the brew to invoke.

I hope you find this recipe idea tasty and effective.

Bright blessings,
Doug

If you have any great Kava recipes, please let us know.  If we like it we will post your idea and/or recipe and send off a free package of 4oz Powdered Kava Root from any one of the Kava suppliers we list or review here as a personal “Thank you!” to you.

What is the Mythical Origin of Kava?

What is the Mythical Origin of Kava?Before there was Piper methysticum (domesticated kava kava), there was Piper wichmannii – the beautifully original form of the Kava kava plant – wild and perfectly untouched by human contact or cultivation.  We can imagine a tropical world totally innocent of discovery, a world void of commercial extraction and consumption, a world where humans hadn’t yet arrived – or evolved – and the work of spiritual beings was at play.  We can envision spiritual entities that created a fantastical set of islands, populated by creatures and botanical beauty not even imaginable to our human minds – islands where Piper wichmannii was divinely placed to sit and await the fate of her discovery, when the mortals of human kind would be graced with the gift of Kava kava and the origin of kava to be born.

My guru insight tells me that Piper wichmannii very likely evolved alongside many other wild plants whose exact origins are unknown, and it is likely a member of a very long line of botanical ancestry that is quite difficult to trace.  Exact knowledge as to where the alluring Kava kava first originated pretty well escapes historical records.  In order to reconstruct a coherent historical account as to the exact mythological origin (probably usage origin as well) of kava, we are dependent upon antiquated and mythical accounts of Piper methysticum’s wild sister – Piper wichmannii.

Fortunately, Tongan and Vanuatu mythology is rife with tales of Kava’s spiritual and ancestral origins.  There are two conceptually different strains of mythology with regard to the origin of kava kava: the external and local.  The external tales tell of how Piper wichmannii was graced upon the South Pacific peoples by a godly and heroic entity that brought it from a spiritual or far off earthly realm, with varying tales of just who this heroic spirit was or just what exactly happened; whereas the local tales tell the story of the ancestral usage or the cultivation of kava kava [2, p. 14-15].

Mythological accounts of Kava (or the external and local mythological stories) are meant to provide an understanding of the physical origin of Kava kava and its use  – the mythological answer to the question of where Kava came from.  These external tales are brimming with heroism and spiritual beings that are held in the highest esteem for gracing mortal creatures with the gift of the Kava plant.  Many of these folk tales revolve around conceptual structures of life and death, where kava is often idealized as the bringer of life [2, p. 14-15].

One such Tongan legend is of the origin of kingship and is thought to symbolically refer to the origin of Kava itself; it can be categorized as an external account.  It tells of a spiritual entity having intercourse with a female mortal being who then gives birth to a half-god son named Aho eito.  The son, eager to meet with his divine father, climbs an incredibly tall ironwood tree and is met by his father who mistakes him for a spiritual being that is even greater than himself.  The father brings the son to meet his half-brothers who become incessantly jealous of his beauty and received admiration.  The divine siblings then rip Aho eito to pieces and proceed to consume him.  The father suspects what the other sons had done to Aho eito and has them vomit into a bowl.  The vomit is then submersed in water and Aho eito slowly emerges as a whole and living being once again.  The father then sends Aho eito to earth to be the first Tu i Tonga, or king of Tonga [1, p. 287-288].

The vomiting into the bowl by the brothers of Aho eito is thought to symbolically represent the chewing of Kava that is then communally spit into a bowl and mixed with water [1, p. 288].  The resultant Kava drink is then traditionally consumed during ceremonies, often during the installment of chiefs and other cultural heads [3, p. 109-110].  The traditional uses of Kava kava do seem to outline a theme that is similar to the death and rebirth of Aho eito who is eaten and then spit up, mixed with water and reborn as a king on earth, just as the kava plant is traditionally used.

Another such external tale tells of the deity Tagaloa Ui who happens upon the house of the mortal chief Pava while wandering through a field of Kava.  At Pava’s home the first mortal ceremony involving Kava is held.   Pava’s son is rambunctiously running about and making noise and Tagaloa Ui asks Pava to quiet his son.  Pava does not obey and the boy’s behavior continues until Tagaloa Ui cuts the boy into two pieces using a coconut frond that has been formed into a knife.  The deity then instructs Pava to eat his boy and Pava declines.  The deity then uses kava from his mountain home to create a drink that is poured over the pieces of Pava’s boy, while he says “Soifua (life)”, and the boy is then brought back to life.  Again, we can see the theme of divine and mortal interplay interwoven with death, life and high social positions [2, p. 13].

Accounts of the local origins of Kava tell fantastic tales of how the plant was first discovered, grown and used by the South Pacific island peoples.  These local tales are often sexualized and there is frequently a prominent female presence; this presence can manifest in the tales in several forms, such as symbolically as a female sexual organ or as female creatures (human or otherwise).

One such local tale is interwoven with the mythology of the external origin of Kava as having come from a divine hero – which highlights the interconnectedness and consistency of Kava mythology.  This story begins with the hero Mwatiktiki on Tanna – an island in Vanuatu.  Mwatiktiki arrives on Tanna with a Kava plant, which he hides between rocks near the shore.  Two female ancestors of the Tanna people go to the shore with yams and begin to peel the yams there.  One of the women is surprised, as she is squatting in the grass, by the presence of the Kava plant on and within her nether regions – the plant is meant to be a phallic representation. The Kava root had sprouted and risen up, penetrating the women – bringing her much enjoyment. The women pull the wild plant out from between the rocks where Mwatiktiki had hid it and bring it back to their garden in Isouragi – their home – where they presumably began to cultivate it and spread its pleasurable benefits [2, p. 13].

Another local tale tells of the burial of a sister by her brother after the brother had tried to protect her from a suitor she had refused to be with.  The suitor shoots an arrow intended for the brother, misses and kills the sister.  The boy buries his sister and within a week an unusual plant that he hasn’t ever seen before sprouts from the grave of his sister.  At first he leaves the plant alone for quite some time.  One day when he is mourning the death of his sister at the site of her burial he notices a rat nibbling on the plant.  The rat shortly dies.  After observing what happened to the rat the boy, unable to bear the death of his sister any longer, decides to kill himself by eating the plant.  Something unexpected happens.  Rather than dying the boy is rejuvenated, filled with life and happiness.  He forgets his misery and comes back to consume the plant and rejoice and goes on to share the plant with many others [2, p. 12] Once again, we can see how the theme of an external spiritual origin of the kava plant and an adaptation of the central themes of life and death, are woven throughout this tale.

Although we do not presently dwell in these mythical worlds, and may never have dwelt in these worlds – they nonetheless paint a historical account of Kava similar to how religious books might construct a historical account of various religious developments; namely, through symbolic story telling.  These folk accounts can be pieced together to construct an understanding of how aspects of kava culture and tradition began.  Whether these tales give an accurate account of how Piper wichmannii first came to be on this earthy rock of ours, is something that goes beyond my guru wisdom.  But one thing can be said for certain: Piper wichmannii was discovered a long, long time ago in a far-off South Pacific island, amongst creatures and botanical entities too wonderful to comprehend. A mythical legacy thus began and is sure to be carried on for many upon many generations of islanders to come…

Mahalo,

Kava Guru

REFERENCES

1. James, K.E. “The Female Presence in Heavenly Places: Myth and Sovereignty in Tonga”. Wiley and Oceania Publications: June 1991. Oceania, Vol. 61, 4 pp.287-308.

2. Singh, Yadhu N. “Kava: from ethnology to pharmacology”. Taylor and Francis LTD: 2004.

3. Singh, Yadhu N. “Kava: An Old Drug in a New World”. University of Minnesota Press: winter of 2009. Cultural Critique, No. 71 pp. 107-128.

 

 

Kava’s New Home

This is the start of the Kava Guru Knowledgebase, soon to be brimming with everything you’ve ever wanted to know or ask about Kava Kava; the ancient Oceanic Elixir.

Who Is Kava Guru?

Who Made You Guru?Keith Cleversley Kava Guru

My name is Keith Cleversley, and I want to make it clear that I make no claims as to being a Kava Guru of any sort.  I do know a great deal about Kava: I’ve been in the Kava business since the late 1990’s. That’s when I began my love affair with and study of Kava, Kava cultivation, and farming Kava.  I’ve also written at least a couple hundred articles related to Kava, which can be seen in various places, including here.

The actual Kava Gurus are all of the researchers, doctors, Phd’s and other authorities whom I quote here on Kava.Guru.  And, all of the informational articles published here share one key feature in common: Minus my few editorials, only researched and referenced informational articles are typically posted here. Also, there are and will be interviews with people I’ve had the good fortune and pleasure of having interesting conversations with over the years, and who love Kava just as much I do. I’m excited to see this website take shape and grow, and hope you decide to stick around and read or comment or ask a question or two.

With so many websites appearing with the main goal of selling Kava, I wanted to do something a little different with Kava Guru.  I wanted to get the expertise of researchers, of authors, explorers, and experimenters. I also want anyone who’s published something to do with Kava that seems interesting to me. I’ll share it with everyone here.  I also wanted to have a place where visitors could post questions, and in return, they would get a fully referenced, researched, and authoritative response.  Also, because of a personal tragedy, I couldn’t be directly involved in selling Kava online after 2013 and until 2020. So, here, at least I could still write, experience, explore, and share all I know about Kava.  I also wanted to keep it separate from Kona Kava Farm and KavaDotCom, so it could be my own independent project that I get to watch take shape as time passes.  (I have authored almost 100% of the content on the Kava Library, though.)

Amidst the overwhelming support for our efforts here, there have been a few rumblings here and there about how some feel that I’m biased towards specific Kava companies on this website.  I rarely give real estate to that kind of energy, and offer only this this brief thought: Of course I’m biased.  I have opinions about what constitutes good Kava, and share those opinions here, on my own website that I purchased, designed, authored, and maintain.  I can also honestly say that I’ve sampled Kava from virtually every online supplier I could find, and for many years now. I’ve seen farms and companies come and go.  I’ve tested countless samples in various labs, and only ended up with a few who’s product passed my standards for HPLC test results, was manufactured in an FDA-compliant GMP manufacturing facility, and/or was of a high enough verifiable Kavalactone percentage and quality that I seek out in the ‘Awa I consume personally.

I’m proud of the features I do on the Kava companies who I like most. Everyone has an equal chance to be featured; all I need is some Kava to review and to share with Facebook fans if you want me to to run a contest to accompany the feature, as well as some details about you and your philosophy on Kava.  I love this ancient root, and would love to review many more Kava companies!

But, as of this writing, my favorite place to purchase Kava is from Kava.com.  They’ve not only got an amazing “happy” cultivar of Noble Kava (including small amounts of Mahakea Kava from Hawaii), but they have a wide range of consistently high quality products from multiple vendors, alongside high quality Kava from other reputable online companies all in one mobile-friendly place.  How could I not love that and want to write about it and share the Kava Marketplace with as many as possible? I love everything about Kava, I have consumed it almost daily for the past 20+ years, and I’ll continue to do so for a long, long time to come.

Please feel free to share this journey to Kava Nirvana, and send me any question related to Kava that you want an answer to. If I choose to respond on Kava.Guru, it will be in the form of a referenced article.  If I don’t respond on Kava.Guru, I will respond personally via email.

Mahalo & Aloha,
Keith Cleversley

Fiji Against Kava Consumption

It seems impossible to believe, but some villages in Fiji (Lau Group and the Eastern Division) have been encouraged to author a development plan for their villages that also includes a ban the consumption of Kava in these villages between Monday and Friday.

Fiji is one of the original places in the world to use Kava, so it’s been a part of the culture of Fiji for thousands of years.  What’s interesting, though, is the ban is not because of any direct physical dangers associated with Kava consumption, but because so much Kava is consumed, that Commissioner Netani Rika is convinced that Kava is a contributor to the state of poverty that exists in the villages of Vanuauatu, Komo, Namuka and Ogea.  He was quoted as saying; “excessive consumption of kava led to poor performance and was a major contributing factor to poverty.”

One of his speeches is below for those interested in hearing the message directly:

Mr. Rika is seeking to upgrade several ports around Fiji to allow more trade with larger vessels.  This would mean increased Kava trade for this region of the world, where poverty is reportedly rampant throughout the region.  Whether or not Kava is the culprit is certainly debatable, but finding a way to increase exposure to expanded trade would unquestionably provide a channel for more Kava trade for these poverty-stricken villages.

It’s curious that as the world’s demand for Kava increases, that Commissioner Rika is now so focused on rebuilding and expanding the harbors in villages around Fiji.  I applaud his efforts to find ways of exporting a product that Fiji does as well, if not better than anywhere else in the world; Kava Kava.  Personally, the Kava Guru is excited to a wider variety of Kava in the Marketplace, and will be one of the first in line to try any Kava that comes out of these regions.

Most are already familiar with Vanauatu Kava; a wonderful Kava with a fiercely loyal customer base.  Anything of similar quality to that strain of Kava can’t be anything but a good thing.

I’m Pregnant – Can I Take Kava?

Dear Kava Guru,

I’m pregnant, can I take Kava?

Marissa, Denver, CO

Dear Marissa,

This is quite a common question, and I will give you the stock answer first:  “The Kava Guru is not a doctor and cannot dispense medical advice.  Please seek the advice of your family doctor if you want to take Kava during your pregnancy.”

And now, the answer that has been gathered from doctor’s opinions, research papers, and stories taken directly from the people of Oceania who have used this amazing plant safely for thousands of years:

 Unfortunately, the short answer is that not enough is known about kava’s safety in pregnancy to recommend it. To give you a better idea of why this is, let’s take a look at kava kava’s common effects: kava is used as a sedative and anxiolytic because of its tranquilizing and antispasmodic properties. In other words, kava calms the central nervous system and also acts as a muscle relaxant. It has been suggested that kava’s relaxant properties could have a negative effect on uterine tone [1].

When questions of kava safety arise, the first thing to look at is the anecdotal evidence. Kava’s history stretches back thousands of years: in the South Pacific, the root has been used medicinally for pain relief, insomnia, urinary infections, and other conditions. According to Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy, kava kava has also been used to help women more easily give birth and to correct displacement of the womb [4]. However, the book goes on to say that a combination of kava and other pepper species has also been used to induce miscarriage. In Hawaii and Polynesia, the kava leaf was used topically for the same purpose [4]. However, the Kava Guru would like to point out that kava leaf is known to be poisonous to humans. In contrast, the kava root has been proved safe for human consumption by thousands of years of traditional use.

The American Pregnancy Association has given kava a rating of possibly unsafe for use in pregnancy, mostly because there isn’t enough known about the effect of kavalactones on a developing baby. It isn’t known whether kavalactones can be transmitted to the fetus in the womb, and the same kavalactones that are perfectly harmless in an adult might still be harmful for fetuses whose livers and brains are developing [1]. Many prescription anti-anxiety medications such as Valium are listed as unsafe for use in pregnancy because they can harm the developing fetus [2].

It’s also possible that kava kava may weaken the muscles around the uterus, which could lead to miscarriage or premature delivery [3]. Finally, kava’s sedating effects could amplify the effect of anesthesia if a mother must be sedated during labor for any reason [2]. Physicians recommend that patients stop use of any herbal supplement with sedative effects (such as passionflower, valerian, or kava) 2 weeks before any medical procedure involving anesthesia.

While there are few definitive studies of kava’s safety in pregnancy, a good starting place for herbal safety in pregnancy can be found in this 2002 literature review [3]. Based on the research, it is the Kava Guru’s opinion that kava should not be used in pregnancy. In those times when anxiety or stress becomes an issue during pregnancy, it may be possible to consult a holistic health care practitioner about herbs that are definitively safe in pregnancy, or about other stress-busting techniques such as prenatal yoga and meditation that can help you feel calm and ready for this change.

Mahalo,

Kava Guru

REFERENCES

1. The American Pregnancy Association. “Herbs and Pregnancy”. Last modified January 2013. http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancyhealth/naturalherbsvitamins.html 

2. Livestrong.com. “Kava Kava and Pregnancy”. Last modified February 7th, 2014. http://www.livestrong.com/article/184996-kava-kava-pregnancy/

3. Ernst, E. March 2002. “Herbal medicinal products: are they safe during pregnancy?” British Journal of Gynaecology 109 (3): 227-235.

4. Bone, Kerry and Simon Mills. Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy: Modern Herbal Medicine, 2nd ed. Churchill Livingstone, 2013: pg. 711.

 

 

Kava for Beginners – The Ultimate Guide to Kava

Dear Kava Guru,

I’m new to kava.  Do you have a Kava for Beginners Guide???

Ken, Cincinnati, OH

Kava for Beginners Ultimate GuideRequests for a Kava for Beginners Guide could be the question that Kava Guru gets asked more than the Where to Buy Kava question!  Not only are there are so many varieties of kava to pick from, there are so many forms of kava; from regular old powdered root, to instant kava mixes, to pills, capsules, dissolving strips and gum.  Let’s take a brief walk through each of the forms of kava first, to give you a better understanding of which kava might be the form you’ll choose for yourself. There are a couple of great guides I’ve borrowed some information from with permission of course if you want a further perspective on Kava:

Where Do I Begin With Kava? (Kava.com) | Kava Beginner’s Guide (Kava.com)

Which Type of Kava for Beginners?

What probably matters most to you in this moment, is simply this: Do I want powdered Kava root, instant Kava mix, Kavalactone Paste, Kava Tea, or Kava and Kavalactone Capsules? Any other form of Kava is going to be a variation on this theme, whether it’s in the form of Kava Singles, Kava Candy, strips, or whatever else people dream up as a delivery method for Kava. All you need to know to answer that seemingly complicated question is what are you looking for from your Kava experience?

  • TO RELAX/CHILL OUT – This is the most common reason people find their way to Kava. People are looking for a safer alternative to sometimes dangerous pharmaceuticals, or as an alterative to alcohol.  If you’re looking for a calming Kava experience, then your best bets would be any Kava that’s in a drink form, whether it’s Powdered Kava Root or Instant Kava Mix.
  • FOR ANXIETY RELIEF – This is perhaps one of the most effective uses for Kava.  Because it’s known as the anti-shyness herb, due to its inhibition-lowering effects, Kava is naturally suited to help fight anxiety.  In fact, we’ve got 20+ clinical studies on the powerful effects of Kava and anxiety.
  • FOR STRESS RELIEF – Anxiety is more of a long-term emotional issue.  Stress is more of an “in the moment” issue.  This can really be helped with taking a moment to simply slow down, take a step back, and take a deep, mindful breath.  What would be perfect for you is to force yourself to go through the process of making a “shell” of Kava the traditional way.
  • FOR PAIN RELIEF – Although we have to be extremely careful with how we discuss Kava as an effective aid to fight pain, I can’t stress enough how effective of a pain fighter Kava can be.  Especially for joint pain and lower back pain.  I have chosen Kava Tincture Plus over aspirin on several occasions.  Although Kava doesn’t have any anti-inflammatory properties to it, it’s an amazing aid for pain.  Also, after interviewing the folks over at Kava.com, I was told that lower back pain is when Kava for pain relief is most effective.
  • AS A SLEEP AID – Now here’s something that might turn some people off when looking for something natural to relax with, but let me make a quick, important distinction: Kava does not make you sleepy.  What Kava does do, is help you get into a state that can be conducive to sleep.  So, it’s often used as a sleep aid, and from my own personal experience — it can be an amazing one at that.  Personally, I blend some Valerian Root Capsules and Kava, in any form, and that makes for an unrivaled sleep combination.
  • AS A LEGAL HIGH – Let’s face it; we’re human, and humans are seeking ways to alter their consciousness.  Although “legal high” has gotten a very bad rap, it’s probably because we’re not being honest with ourselves.  Some who are looking for a Kava experience are looking to get kicked in the pants, and honestly, as long as you’re being responsible and not hurting anybody, then that’s your choice.  and, you should have the freedom to make that choice.  For you, let me say this: There is no such thing as an overdose from Kava.  Also, despite the bad press, there is no known link, according to the World Health Organization, between water-extracted Kava and liver damage.  So, for you, I have two great recommendations; Kava Tincture Plus and Kavalactone Paste 55%, both manufactured by Kona Kava Farm.
  • AS AN APHRODISIAC – This is a curious usage of Kava that has been hidden from the Western World.  When explorers first visited the Hawaiian islands way back in the days of Captain Cooke, one of the curious features of Hawaii was the yearly Summer Festival.  This celebration of life, love and nature took place when taxes were being collected, and the king was making his way through the people.  Kava was renown for lowering inhibitions, for inspiring the deeply meaningful, hip-gyrating Hula dance.  Any form of Kava can be a great aphrodisiac, simply because of its very nature.  Kava helps even the toughest customer relax.  It’s not known as the “anti-shyness” herb for nothing!  In addition, there is a curious product called KavaLOVEtone that was invented by Kona Kava Farm.  It’s not only a Kava-based aphrodisiac, it has additional ingredients such as Damiana that have been clinically-proven to increase blood flow to the genitals.  We’re not legally allowed to make any mention of Viagra and KavaLOVEtone Capsules in the same sentence, but it is definitely worth checking out.

For me, though, especially if you’re beginning your experiences with Kava, I think it’s best to immerse yourself in the spirit of Kava by going through the traditional preparation method.  For me personally; I think it’s the most desirable kava experience.  And that method simply uses powdered kava root. I like the fact that the whole energy of this ancient, and often sacred plant is preserved.  We like that ingesting kava this way is in alignment with the ancient traditions of Oceania [1]. Most of all, I like that the traditional method of working with kava has a 3000-year history of use to back up its effectiveness. While this form of kava requires a bit of preparation, as you will have to steep the powder in water and then strain it, I believe the effects and the connection to tradition are worth the effort.

Main Types of Kava Available

Of course, I understand that sometimes—sadly, perhaps most of the time in our 24/7 culture—there isn’t time to prepare kava the traditional way. Well, my Kava for Beginners – The Ultimate Guide to Buying Kava will not disappoint!  There are many kava products that cater to on-the-go relaxation. Let’s look at some of those below:

INSTANT KAVA DRINK MIXES: The closest in form to a traditional brew, instant kava powder can be mixed up in minutes and doesn’t require any straining or steeping time [2]. For some people, flavored instant mixes offer the added benefit of disguising the taste of kava. (Though the Kava Guru personally enjoys kava’s peppery, earthy flavor, many people find it takes some getting used to.) Make sure that any instant kava mix you’re considering is made with a kava root extract; plain kava root that hasn’t been extracted in some way will not be effective. One way to tell the difference is that a truly instant kava mix should dissolve completely in liquid without leaving a residue. Mix it up with water, fruit juice, or nut milk for delicious results!  There are Instant Kava Mixes and Instant Kava Singles available from Kona Kava Farm or Kava.com.

KAVA ROOT/KAVALACTONE CAPSULES: Another way to tastelessly get your kava dosage is in capsule or pill form [2]. Again, check to make sure the capsules are made with a kava root extract—this is a rule for any instant kava product. Kava capsules may contain either a powdered or a liquid kava extract (in liquigels). A quality kava vendor should also list the amount of kavalactones in the capsules, either as a percentage or in milligrams. Kavalactones are the relaxing constituents in kava root, and most research suggests that a dose of at least 70 milligrams is necessary to generate an effect[3].

There are 2 main types of Kava Capsules; Kava Root Only Capsules and Kavalactone 30% Capsules. It’s

While kava capsules generally aren’t as strong as a kava brew, they may be helpful for helping you cope with stressful situations such as demanding workdays and plane trips, and the capsule format means they can be taken easily and discreetly.

KAVALACTONE PASTE 55%: There aren’t many vendors who sell this concentrated paste extract, yet some “kavasseurs” absolutely swear by it! Kavalactone paste is a semi-liquid kavalactone extract with a yellowish color and the consistency of cake batter [2]. Kava pastes with a blend of select kavalactones and full-spectrum kavalactone pastes are both available on the market. The Kava Guru prefers full-spectrum pastes that contain a ratio of all the kavalactones and other active constituents in the kava root. In our opinion, full-spectrum kava pastes are best for those who want to access the whole energy of this healing plant. Kavalactone paste can be taken alone in small amounts or added to a kava brew as a “booster”—though we recommend waiting on this until you have experience with kava and know how it affects you.

KAVA TINCTURE/KAVA TINCTURE PLUS: There aren’t many reliable vendors for Kavalactone Tincture as this oily extracts does not blend well with water or alcohol.  We highly recommend the Kava Tincture Plus from Kona Kava Farm or Kava Tincture from Root of Happiness Kava, as both products have a verified 6% Kavalactone content.  Given that Kava root naturally has about 12% Kavalactone content in it, taking 2 dropperfuls (not drops) of either of the above Kava tinctures will give you a full on Kava experience, complete with a numbing effect on your mouth.  There are weaker versions of Kava Tincture for the timid, with about 3% Kavalactone content. Give that a try if you want to get a milder effect from your first Kava experiences.

The Weakest Forms of Kava

Kava Gum/Kava Strips: Both of these intruiging new kava products take advantage of kavalactones’ ability to be absorbed through the mucus membranes of the mouth. They’re also almost as easy to use as a kava capsule and just as discreet. Kava gum is essentially a gum infused with a kava root extract; it can be chewed to release the kavalactones into the mouth over a few minutes.  Kava strips, or K-strips as they are often called, are dissolvable strips of paper infused with a kava extract. They can be dissolved sublingually (under the tongue), or added to a warm beverage like your afternoon cup of tea…just make sure not to add these strips to liquid that is over 140 degrees Fahrenheit, as kavalactones are destroyed by higher temperatures.

Kava Tea: I didn’t include Kava tea in the main list of Kava types because Kava tea is barely Kava at all.  There is so little Kava in Kava Teas that we have not noticed much of an effect at all.  In fact, the folks over at Wonderland-Labs have tested all kinds of Kava, and have reportedly found only trace amounts of Kavalactone in the Kava teas they tested.

Kavalactone Lineups

One of the most basic bits of information you may want as our Kava for Beginners Guide winds down, is the Kavalactone percentage, and the Kavalactone lineup of your Kava.  Most mass marketed Kava from places like GNC have no idea what their true Kavalactone content or the Kavalactone lineup is.  Why does this even matter?  Well, for obvious reasons, the total Kavalactone content is relatively important.

One our favorite and fun ways to learn about Kava is over on YouTube, with a video called “Kavalactone Lineups”.  It is super entertaining, and just a few minutes long.  There’s no product plugs until the very end, and even then, it’s mild.  I’ve watched the video dozens of times, and it’s made a big difference in helping me to choose which Kava is best for me.  I think it would be a huge help for anyone who is a beginner with Kava, and is looking for some solid advice on how to proceed.

If it’s embedded correctly, there should be a video below:

Go Go Go, You Kava Guru!

No matter what form of kava you choose, always make sure the product is made using only the kava root and never the above ground stems or leaves, which are inedible and potentially poisonous.  Now that you’re not a Kava beginner any longer, just remember these few additional tips:

  • NO SUCH THING AS AN OVERDOSE – There is no such thing as an overdose for Kava.  If you happen to take too much Kava, you will not be able to operate heavy machinery (such as a car) for a while, and, you may just go to sleep for an hour or two.  If you are getting nervous that your heart rate is increasing too much, fret not, as that’s natural, and you are perfectly safe.
  •  NO LIVER DAMAGE– Despite the mountains of media hype, please believe the World Health Organization on this one rather than the media.  The World Heath Organization did their own study on Kava, which consisted of taking every bit of Kava data and clinical trials there were, and they arrived at conclusions based on 100+ case studies.  What did they conclude? – That there was absolutely no connection to liver damage when consuming water-based Kava extractions using roots only Kava.  High quality vendors such as Kava.com only carry products from verified vendors who wouldn’t dream of using anything other than pure Kava to any of their products.
  • HAVE FUN/BE RESPONSIBLE – Kava can be an immense joy, and is really meant to be shared.  Even if it’s one loved one or an entire group, Kava brings people together. It can make feelings of well-being arise in us, and it can have a lasting positive effect on our life.  Life is short, love as much as you can.  Kava can help!

Remember; which kava product you choose will depend a lot on how and where you want to use it. Do you want to relax with kava at the end of the day, inject some calm into a hectic workday, or use kava to soothe nerves on a long trip? When deciding which form of kava is right for you, your intention and the context for its use will guide you to the kind of kava that is right for you.  Hope this Kava for Beginner’s Guide was helpful. As always, let me know if you have any comments or suggestions to make it better, and I’ll add onto the article as needed.

Share the love, feel the joy, and let’s connect at the roots!

Mahalo & Aloha,
Keith Cleversley

REFERENCES

1. “Piper methysticum.” Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed February 28th, 2014.

2. “Kavalactones Dosage.” Kava.com. Accessed February 28th, 2014.

3. “True Kava Side Effects“. Kava.com. Accessed February 28, 2014.

4. “Where Do I Begin With Kava?” – Kava.com

5. “Kava Beginner’s Guide” – Kava.com