How to Make Strong Kava

How to Make Strong KavaHow to Make Strong Kava

This is a question I’ve asked quite often: how can I make my Kava stronger?

First, let’s think about what makes Kava into something our bodies can be affected by. If you don’t know, Kava is traditionally extracted into water or coconut water. There are many variations on this. But it makes sense to understand that the active components of Kava is Kavalactone. And, lactones dissolve in fats best and not water.

Traditional Water Extractions

So, why does tradition tell us to extract Kava into water? Well, part of the reason is because traditionally, Kava was first chewed by the female members of a family. They then spit the masticated Kava into a community bowl. So, it makes sense that since saliva is water-based that the drink made from this chewing would need to be water-based as well. I’m not saying this is the actual reason why traditional Kava drinks are extracted into water, but this sounds like a viable theory to me.

Another reason may be because liquids with fats in them may not be as easily consumed as liquids that are water-based. Kava Is made for gulping, so what sounds more enticing to you – gulping down a cup of water or trying to gulp down a milkshake? It’s also important to remember that making a drink from powdered Kava roots will thicken whatever liquid it’s extracted into by its very nature. Kava is a natural thickener, so if you are starting with a thick liquid, the final drink might be difficult to consume.

Knowing what we’re up against, what are our options?

Something With Fats In It

Well, luckily,, lactone is about 10% of the total Kava material. So, what might make sense is to extract that into 90% water and 10% oil. Kava will extracts into water, just not as effectively as fats or oils. The problem is that oil and fats do not play well together. So the fatty liquid we choose must blend well with water. This blending effect is known as emulsifying. If we try to mix olive oil with water, they will quickly want to separate. But, if we mix milk with water it is a different story. This is because the facts in the milk are already emulsified. And it’s these kinds of liquids that make for very efficient and potent extractors for your Kava power.

So, one way of making strong Kava is to pick a fatty liquid that you like to drink. This could be skim milk, soy milk, coconut milk, almond milk, and many others. Even adding 10% into your extraction will make a stronger drink than an extraction into only water. It’s not required that your fatty liquid blend well with your water, but it will make for a much more pleasant drink. So, a simple method that will make strong Kava is to use something like milk instead, whether it’s cow, soy, almond or coconut.

Kava Additives

Next, many may have heard of additives during a Kava extraction. The most common additives is soy lecithin. Soy lecithin is a fatty material perfect for extracting lactones out of Kava. Soy lecithin also blends well with water, and not much is necessary to make an extraction stronger. It also has a very neutral flavor to it, and is not noticeable at all when blended into a Kava drink. This has been a choice for as long as I can remember, and it works well if you’re looking for an initial “punch” to be as strong as possible.

Something that is relatively new to the market is a products sold on Kava.com called “Kava Blender“. This product is organic and plant-based. It has a very mild flavor to it, it suspends in water, and seems to be quite effective at pulling lactones out during an extraction. I have tried the Kava Blender side-by-side with soy lecithin, and honestly, I don’t have a preference. The good thing about the Kava Blender is that it blends very well with water. It disperses quite evenly and, especially when using a blender, it is very easy to work with. Soy lecithin on the other hand almost requires the blender, because this fatty material, even when using granules, doesn’t always evenly disperse.

Add More Kava

Here’s something I don’t want to overlook. It’s perhaps the most effective way to make a strong Kava drink: Add more Kava!

The FDA tends to be very conservative with servings, especially when it comes to Kava. There is no known overdose with Kava. And, despite the media hype over the past decade, the world health organization has determined that Kava, when extracted by traditional methods into water, has absolutely no measurable link to liver damage.

What this means for you, is that you can try larger amount when extracting. Lactones do not take up a lot of room in your extracted liquid, so it is possible to double, triple, or quadruple the amounts of, powder you initially start with. You will be able to extract nearly double, triple or quadruple the amount of lactones into your drink if you wish. Well, this isn’t quite the case, but it is one very easy way to make a stronger Kava drink without the use of any additives.

Heat Your Kava

Some people have asked if they could heat up their Kava to make it extract better. This is delicate territory as Kavalactones start to break down at just 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Mind you, I said “start” to break down. It’s not like all of your Kavalactones will suddenly lose its effectiveness the moment it touches 140 degrees. What happens definitely takes some time. That time is about 30 minutes or so.

So, this may sound like blasphemy to some, but personal experience and loads of recipes from customers who have made Kava brownies, hot Kava tea and other wondrous treats, all have heated Kava way beyond the 140 degree mark. And, 100% of those people have also said that they were able to enjoy the full effects of Kava.

And, heating will eventually make your Kava less effective, but that’s always part of the fun with herbal products. you can experiment to your heart’s content. Be a mad scientist and play with your Kava! Try different things out. Make it a social event. Have fun and discover ways that work great for you, and makes a strong Kava drink that you can be proud of.

Add Stronger Kava

Okay, so this one might also seem obvious, but one of the most efficient ways to make a stronger Kava drink is to add stronger Kava to your Kava drink. Kona Kava Farm has two great products that are used just as much for making your Kava extractions have more “kick” as they are enjoyed on their own. These products are Kava Tincture Plus and Kavalactone Paste.

Both can easily be added to your Kava extraction. Without question either will take it up a notch. But this is where I want to make something as clear as possible: KaAva isn’t necessarily meant to be the strongest possible punch in a single drink.

Kava is meant to be shared, to be enjoyed socially, to integrate into an evening of stories, conversation, music and fun. For me, I typically enjoy 3-4 shells of Kava in the course of an evening. And, the effects definitely “stack” on top of each other, as long as you gulp your Kava in the range of more than 1 per hour. At about 45 minutes, I’ll start on another shell, and it doesn’t take long to really start to feel the effects of Kava after that.

Kava headspace is definitely a unique and pleasant sensation, but driving isn’t always an option when that headspace kicks in. I’ve consumed Kava for nearly 20 years, and have tried every possible combination and form. But despite all of that, my favorite way to enjoy Kava, my favorite way to make strong Kava, is to simply consume more shells than one per hour over the course of an evening. It’s always been worth the sometimes bitter taste and the chalkiness.

In Conclusion

So, what options are typically available? Let’s review:

  • Extract into something oily or fatty (i.e. soy milk)
  • Use a natural additive (such as Kava Blender or Soy Lecithin)
  • Add more Kava (increase the amount of Kava you use)
  • Heat Your Kava Up!
  • Add something stronger (like Kava Tincture Plus or Kavalactone Paste)

Any of the above options are a good place to start. Since there are no hangovers, since it’s as safe as safe and be, I will typically consume 3-45 “shells” of Kava in an evening out. As previously mentioned, there is definitely a headspace that happens once one gets into their third, fourth, or even a fifth shell if the inspiration strikes. When consumed before the previous shell wears off, the effects can stack on top of each other, and things can get very interesting.

So, it’s not always about making as strong a drink as possible right off the bat. Kava likes you to relax, to take your time, to share with friends. So, Kava has made itself best enjoyed in gulps over the course of an evening, rather than doubling or tripling the amount of Kava you use in your efforts to make strong Kava for yourself or your friends. Maybe take the time to get to know Kava, to learn what its effects are, whether it’s a single shell, or several shells over the course of an evening. The Kava experience continues to surprise me in both the most subtle and the most obvious of ways. And, Kava has enriched my life and connected me with people and experiences that will last a lifetime. I hope you find the same.

Bottom line is to simply play, enjoy, and find the happiness that is within each shell of Kava!

Mahalo,
Keith

Why I Love Kava

Hawaiian Kava LeavesINTRODUCTION
This is very broad question that I bring up because I’m curious to see what kind of responses I get.  I know why I love Kava; not only has it helped reduce my anxiety at times in my life when nothing else helped, it just makes me feel good because of the effects of the plant, as well as the ritual itself, and it has enhanced my enjoyment of my life in general.  Also, the effects that Kava has on me haven’t diminished in the least despite more than 2 decades of nearly daily Kava use, which has allowed Kava to help fuel my passions and desires for self-expression.
Part of my personal research and experimentation is with a watchful eye on my health.  One of the things that I feel is a key factor in my ability to try so many different plant teachers and plant medicines is because of the attention I give to treating my body like the temple it is.  I exercise every day, track it with Fitbit, and eat a healthy, semi-vegetarian diet with as much raw food as I can comfortably consume (including raw fish).  I’m a pilot and have to get an in-depth medical exam every 2 years.  Part of this exam is blood work, which I’m interested in because of my Kava use.  With so much false information regarding potential liver damage from consuming Kava, as a near-daily drinker of Kava, I don’t even have raised enzyme levels in my liver, which translates into my liver being as healthy as a scan of my blood can determine.
MY FIRST KAVA EXPERIENCE
So, Kava for me is a very personal journey that went very public.  When I get excited about something, I can’t help wanting to share it with as many people as possible. Kava is no exception.  When I was first working with teacher plants, I voraciously inhaled, literally, every psychoactive plant I could find.  I researched any and every plant that had an effect on consciousness or was considered a “Teacher Plant” in the literature.  One of the plants I encountered was Kava.  So, one random day, when I was sitting at home, queuing up a movie on DVD (The movie was “My Dinner With Andre”), I decided I was going to try some of the Kava that I had purchased from Kona Kava Farm.
I followed the instructions carefully; I purchased their “84% Kavalactone Paste” (which doesn’t exist anymore due to stricter FDA regulation of Kava).  It said to make a pea-sized amount, and to simply eat it.  I thought that such a small amount of this plant couldn’t really do that much, but, I always start small and work my way up.  I also know that the FDA errs on the side of caution, and tend to double any dosage that is recommended by the FDA.  Having a doctor in the family only confirms that; there are many medications that are “over the counter” in smaller doses, and by prescription only in larger doses.  It can be the exact same medication, but it’s believed that only doctors are knowledgable enough to dole out larger doses of medication.
Today, though, I only went with the instructions, measured out my pea-sized serving (1/8th teaspoon), placed it under my tongue, sat down, and started my movie.
I wasn’t 5 minutes into the movie when I started to notice a few things: My tongue was numb.  I hadn’t done a lot of research on Kava or Kavalactone Paste, so I didn’t know that part of knowing if you’ve got good Kava is that it will numb your mouth.  Besides that, though, I was alone, the movie wasn’t a comedy, but I started to giggle.  I never giggle.  Sure, I like to laugh, I’ve been known to let out a guffaw or two, but giggle?
As the Kava set in, the giggles didn’t cease, and in my excitement that I had discovered something amazing, I only got more giggly.  I stopped the movie, sat back and simply enjoyed the moment, I enjoyed being alive, and I was giddy for the next 45 minutes.
After that 45 minutes was up, I was already hooked.  I went into the kitchen, tried another pea-sized amount, and sure enough, within minutes I was giddy again.  That day began an amazing journey into meeting the mind behind Kona Kava Farm, buying her farm as she moved to Fiji to start a resort, and learning absolutely everything I could about Kava and the Kava biz.
KAVA AS A TEACHER PLANT
Teacher Plants demand one very specific thing from us; they demand patience.  With today’s instant gratification just a tap or click away, I fear that the lessons of Teacher Plants are in danger of getting lost with us.  We’re all racing around with our faces in screens, and if we don’t get punched in the face or knocked on our ass with something we ingest, it’s not good enough.
But Kava — Kava is far more subtle than that.  Kava demands attention. It asks that you pay attention to it, that you take the time to understand the effects, to simply FEEL what it has to show you.  And this, for me, is why I love Kava.  It may sound odd and eccentric to modern ears, but in ancient times, shaman developed relationships with the plants that thy worked with.  They took the time to get to know them.  They would find “plant allies”; plants that they found useful effects with over time.
Kava is certainly one of those. And because of the very nature of Kava, it demands that you slow down to notice it’s powerfully subtle effects that can have a profound impact on one’s life…really!
When I took my initial 3 months to explore every facet of Kava, I was amazed at how little information I could find about its use ritualistically.  I found some speculation about its use in Easter Island as a visionary plant, but it was only speculation.  On an experiential level, though, working with Kava literally transformed my life in ways I am still grateful for today.  I worked with it every 3 days, to give any tolerance a chance to reset itself.  And, I purchased every form of Kava I could find at the time, following the instructions very carefully with each form I purchased.
Recently, I spent some time in Hawaii, working with a cultivar of Kava called “Hiwa”.  It is supposed to be the most spiritual of the Kava’s, with the ability to open chakras and clear energy. So, I spent some time with Hiwa Kava when the opportunity arose.  You can read about that in “Kava Experience – Hawaiian Kava” over at ENTHEOLOGY.
My favorite was the Kavalactone Paste, mixed with Powdered Kava Root.  I found that if I doubled all of the recommended dosages, that the effects were far more noticeable, and much more to my liking. I worked with small amounts, up to amounts that were 8x the recommended dosage.  When I am working with a Teacher Plant, there can be profound effects that occur at larger doses.  One example is tobacco.  On Machu Picchu, there are two man Teacher Plants; tobacco and Angel Trumpets.  Both are powerful psychoactives, and tobacco was used as a Teacher Plant that, because in high doses, became very psychoactive.  One of the rites of passage for boys becoming men, was to send them off into the mountains with a large amount of tobacco.  They would consume the tobacco, which would produce visions at high enough doses.  I wanted to know if Kava had the same effect, and with utmost respect, I began my journey.
EFFECTS OF KAVA
Something I found is that Kava is very dose-dependent, at least for me:
  • LOW DOSES: At lower doses, Kava can be a sleep aid.  It can also help induce dreams as it makes one far more open to a dream state with its relaxing properties.  I don’t get much of the inhibition-lowering aspects of Kava at lower doses, but I do get the sleepiness, relaxation, and some of the pain reduction effects.  Especially for lower back pain, Kava can be extremely effective for me.
  • MIDDLE DOSES: at double the recommended dose, I could really see Kava starting to shine.  The sleepiness waned, and a more profound sense of relaxation ensued.  The pain-relieving properties were definitely there, but I got giddy, sociable, and wanted to immediately call up friends to share this experience.  Also, and I don’t think it’s because it was reducing inhibitions, it was definitely making my creative process awaken, and move front and center.  I wanted to make something, draw or paint something, or pick up my guitar and make some music.  It was a very subtle, but exciting sensation.
  • LARGE DOES: When I worked with Kava over an evening, where I would take 4-6 “shells” of Kava, that’s when things get really interesting.  With Kava bars becoming more and more popular, it’s not uncommon to have a night of Kava drinking, much like people enjoy a night of drinking alcohol.  This, for me, is where Kava reaches its peak effects.  I feel a sense of peace with the world.  All of my aches and pains recede way into the distance.  I no longer feel sleepy at all, but feel excited, social, and feel like “emotionally sharing” in a way that alcohol tends to do for people.  I didn’t have any inkling of visions, but 4-6 shells of Kava over the course of a few hours is an entirely pleasant experience for me, whether I’m at home focused on making art of music, or out in a social setting with friends.
  • HIGH DOSES: If I don’t feel a “spiritual” side of a plant, I don’t take it in large doses.  When I was first deciding whether or not to bring Kratom into the country, I went through the same process as I did with Kava; I started small, and worked my way up to a very large dose.  That became very coldly psychedelic [DO I HAE AN ARTICLE ON THIS?], without any spiritual aspect of it whatsoever.  It was devoid; I had very “cold” visions of cement and viaducts and icy cold water.  It was not pleasant, and I decided never to venture there again.  So, for these kinds of explorations, I always have someone qualified to sit with me, as I began my journey into a high dose of Kava.  What happened to me was difficult to describe, even years later when I try to find ways to share the experience.  Imagine being really excited and really relaxed at the same time.  I felt energized, but not in a caffeine kind of way, simultaneously to feeling very relaxed.  I felt great anticipation, but couldn’t say why or for what..  It was not entirely unpleasant, and I felt a very spiritual side of this sacred plant, but any visual effects weren’t anything like the ayahuasca I had worked with in the Peruvian Amazon.  When I’d close my eyes, my thoughts became very visual, very colorful, but not with any added intensity.  I thought that if I spent a lot of time working with this plant at higher doses, I would likely be able to “sift through” all of these mental images and hone in on something specific, but I was uncomfortable enough that I simply put it aside and moved on to other aspects of Kava.  I may yet revisit this side of Kava, but I was hoping to find some research somewhere, that spoke of using Kava in higher doses as a Teacher Plant for ritualistic purposes.
I’m very interested to hear from anyone else regarding their Kava experiences, or why they love Kava.
WHY I LOVE KAVA
In the end, Kava has become a very subtle part of my life on many levels.  It can lift my spirits when I’m feeling a little down.  It can help with my writer’s block when I’m writing.  It can give me a kick in the pants when I am painting or working with photos.  In small doses, and after a stressful da at work, it can really be a catalyst to help me relax, even for the simple fact that I have to slow down, extract the Kava, knead it carefully, and spend some time making my drink.  I don’t have a lot of physical pain in my life at the moment, but I could see where Kava could be very effective for some in helping with pain.
Perhaps equally as important though, is the people I have met because of Kava.  I’ve traveled to Vanuatu, Fiji, and Hawaii in search of Kava and stories about Kava.  I realized the plight of Hawaii as the Kingdom of Hawaii was overthrown as they were forcefully annexed to the United States.  I started to spend a lot more time in Hawaii, and found myself going to conferences with other Kava lovers.  Getting to meet Uncle Jerry, Vince Lebot, and other luminaries was an absolute delight for me.  I’ve had my hands in the ground at Kava camp, where I got to work with Kava plants taller than me, and root bundles that weighed more than my fully-loaded backpack during a research project.  I’ve had the opportunity to share Kava with so many, and continue to be an avid supporter of Kava, despite having to give up both Kona Kava Farm and Kava.com in late 2013 due to a devastatingly unfair move by MasterCard as they took away my ability to process credit cards for 7 years over something I was 1000% innocent of.
Kava truly does bring people together, it helps lower inhibitions and increase a sense of well-being and love.  It doesn’t connect me to nature as many plants do, what it does is connect me to people.  I tend to be buried in writing most of the time, and Kava makes me want to leave my cave for a minute to take a look around, to share thoughts with friends, to get outside and enjoy the sunshine or the rain or the ocean that’s just outside my door.  I have infinite respect for this plant, and know t will be an integral part of my world throughout my life.  I am still exited to learn even more about this plant, its history, and have started growing my favorite strain; a Mahakea 4-2-6 plant with about 9% Kavalactone content.  In 2017, there will be enough to sell to a few key online retailers.
Lastly, I’ve long been an avid fan of Lucid Dreaming.  I have written about it a great deal on ENTHEOLOGY and DREAMHERBS.  Recently, I have been experimenting with using Kava to help with dream recall, and the results are more than promising.  I’m working on a Dreaming Blend to see if I can increase the effects that I get from another favorite teacher plant; Calea zacatechichi.  As I’m writing this article, I just wrote one on Harvesting Calea Seeds over on DreamHerbs.com.
I just posted an sister article to this one called “Does Kava Have a Spiritual Side?” where I would be more than interested in any input.  And, If you have personal experiences with Kava and dreaming, I’d love to hear more.
Peace & Aloha,
Keith

Can Kava Be Used as a Herbal Sleep Aid?

Can Kava Help You Sleep? Kava Guru

A recent article in Hampton Roads titled “Over-the-Counter Sleep Aids May Impact Overall Health” shone some light on the drawbacks of many of the non-prescription sleep aids people in our overstressed, overworked society use to help them get to sleep at night [1]. Besides the short-term risks of delayed awakening and daytime drowsiness—no small consideration if you have to get behind the wheel of a car every morning!—the article pointed up long-term risks of habitual sleep aid use, including worsening sleep apnea, increased risk of heart disease and even cancer.

As the Kava Guru, I could only say, “Really? And all while a totally natural herbal sleep aid has been used in the South Pacific for millennia with no issues?” While the article did mention briefly that some people use kava kava (Piper methysticum) as a sleep aid, as well as other popular calming herbs like valerian, lavender essential oil, and chamomile, it was quick to label these remedies as lacking in scientific evidence. And of course, it also repeated the long-discredited information that use of kava may be linked to liver damage, which anyone who has read the new studies defending kava’s superior safety record knows was based on studies that were flawed at best, sensational at worst. But uneven as it was, the article got me thinking: can kava help you sleep?

Dr. Michael Breus, a sleep specialist writing on WebMD, stated that kava kava has been used a sleep aid in the South Pacific for its sedating and calming qualities [2]. However, at the time he was writing in 2011, there was much more uncertainty as to why some people experienced idiosyncratic reactions to kava kava, so he still recommended avoiding its use. However, as recently as last year, new evidence has emerged suggesting the culprit in the mid-2000s liver toxicity cases might be flavokavain B, a non-kavalactone compound found only in ignoble (or “Tudei”) kava strains that are now banned from export [3].

Diagnose Me, an online diagnosis website similar to WebMD, suggests that kava kava may encourage sleep by reducing the anxiety and stress that is a common cause of sleeplessness for many people [4]. Makes sense to me! Everyday stress, especially the inability to settle one’s thoughts before bedtime, is a huge factor in sleeplessness. The less sleep you get, the harder it is to get a handle on projects and tasks the next day, the more stressed you become, and the harder it is to get to sleep…you see the pattern developing here? Kava could very well offer harried Westerners a giant “reset” button by helping them achieve a state of relaxed calm, making it that much easier to drift into restful sleep. Other studies have suggested that kava has mild analgesic and muscle relaxant properties [4], so it might reduce mild aches and pains that can interefere with rest and help the body unwind physically before bed.

The site also references a very intriguing study on kava’s effects on brainwaves that was done by Saletu et al in 1989 [5]. The double-blind placebo-controlled study found that doses of synthetic kavain between 200 and 600 mg “enhances brain activity that favors restorative sleep… EEG [electroencephalogram] activity showed that kavain increased the alpha-1, theta, and delta waves that are associated with sleep while decreasing beta waves, which are a sign of wakefulness” [5]. As if that wasn’t enough evidence, these effects also increased as the dose of kavain was increased, so that “600mg of kavain produced sedation comparable to 30mg of clobazapam”, a benzodiazepine drug used as a control.

Well readers, I think it’s pretty clear that kava kava does have some scientifically backed evidence of effectiveness as a herbal sleep aid, especially in cases where anxiety or stress is a root cause of sleeplessness. Other methods for getting to sleep naturally include limiting your intake of caffeine, alcohol and sugar (especially right before bed); reducing the amount of ambient light and noise in your bedroom; and developing other healthy sleep routines such as ceasing the use of electronics 2 hours before sleep and making sure to eat your last meal about 3 hours before sleep. One creative strategy even suggested eating foods high in magnesium (which is a natural sedative) before you go to sleep. Some magnesium-rich foods include dark leafy greens, cashews, almonds, legumes, whole grains, brewer’s yeast, and blackstrap molasses.

However, many health sites still identify mental stress as the number one cause of difficulty sleeping. Perhaps the best way to ensure you get a great night’s sleep is to combine the above strategies with a high-quality kava supplement to round out your healthy sleep toolkit!

REFERENCES

1. Ferguson, Pat. ‘Over-the-counter Sleep Aids May Impact Overall Health, According to Study”. Hampton Roads. August 3rd, 2014. http://hamptonroads.com/2014/08/overthecounter-sleep-aids-may-impact-overall-health-according-study.

2. Breus, Michael J. “Kava For Sleep? Why It Continues to Be a Mystery”. Huffington Post. August 20th, 2011. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-michael-j-breus/kava-sleep_b_924318.html.

3. Teschke, Rolf. March 2011. “Special Report: Kava and the Risk of Liver Toxicity: Past, Current, and Future”. American Herbal Products Association Report 26 (3): 9-17.

4. “Treatment: Kava”. Diagnose Me. Accessed September 23rd, 2014. http://www.diagnose-me.com/treatment/kava.html.

5. Saletu, B., Grünberger, J., and Linzmayer, L. (1989). “EEG-brain mapping, psychometric and psychophysiological studies on central effects of kavain–A kava plant derivative”. Human Psychopharmacology 4: 169-190.

Emerging Controversy Around Tudei Kava

PrintAh, Tudei kava. Perhaps no varietal of kava is getting more attention or press at the moment. Unfortunately a lot of it is currently bad press, as some distinguished kava researchers such as Vincent Lebot have come forward with recommendations against drinking kava made from Tudei varieties. I was frankly shocked at how quickly Tudei kava rose in notoriety as being somehow harmful, even though the science on why it might be so is still in its initial stages. I don’t think I was alone, either: many growers, retailers and connoisseurs in the kava community were blindsided by the emerging controversy surrounding Tudei kava strains. Over the past year I’ve seen two rough camps develop, divided between those who have sworn off Tudei kava and those who are still skeptical of the supposed evidence against Tudei kava. But before I can get into the controversy, I should probably break down a few things for our readers. Like what is Tudei kava?

What is Tudei Kava?

First of all, the term Tudei or Tuday kava doesn’t refer to just one strain, but actually a group of kava strains that are classified as “ignoble” according to Vanuatu’s kava export laws [1]. Tudei kava strains tend to have dark green stems and leaves, often with lighter green spots on the leaves. They also usually grow and mature quickly compared to other kava strains. Some people prize Tudei kava varieties for their perceived long-lasting effects—the effects can reportedly last as long as two days, hence the name—which are probably due to higher levels of large, slow-to-metabolize kavalactones such as dihydromethysticin in the kava root [2]. However, the longer-lasting effects can sometimes also be accompanied by undesirable side effects such as nausea and drowsiness [1], so the kava community is really split on whether the enjoyable parts of the Tudei experience outweigh the less pleasant aspects!

In Vanuatu, Tudei kava cultivars such as Isa and Palisi are actually banned from export by law (although one can still find them, or kava vendors claiming to sell them, online). This is because only “noble” kava cultivars with a specific chemotype are legal to export or process into kava supplement products. The explanation indigenous ni-Vanuatu people give for this is that Tudei or ignoble strains like Isa are reserved for ritual and medicinal use, and are considered too potent to be everyday drinking kavas [1]. There has even been a persistent rumor in some kava circles that Tudei kava is actually Piper wichmannii, the wild form of kava, and some vendors have exploited this hearsay to add an air of potency and exoticism to the the kava they sell. However, no genetic or morphological evidence has ever substantiated the claim that Tudei kava is P. wichmannii [2]. The Tudei strains may be chemically close to P. wichmannii in their ratios of kavalactones though, which could be where this claim originated.

The Emerging Tudei Kava Controversy:

I first became aware of the doubts surrounding Tudei kava from a post made on Kava Lounge by Andrew Procyk, owner of Vanuatu Kava Bar in Asheville, North Carolina and the recently opened Noble Kava Bar in Boone, North Carolina. He linked to a video featuring semi-famous kava luminary Vincent Lebot, in which Lebot recommends against drinking Tudei kava strains such as Isa and Palisi on the basis that they contain significant amounts of flavokavain B. His recommendation was based on data that suggest flavokavain B can be cytotoxic to human liver cells in lab tests [3].

Sigh. I thought the kava liver safety scares were over after the World Health Organization determined kava to be safe back in 2007 [4], but apparently not. The good news, though, is that Lebot and other kava researchers agree there is no detectable flavokavain B in the roots of noble kava cultivars [3]—those traditionally consumed nightly in the South Pacific as part of kastom—so even if flavokavain B turns out to be something to avoid, you don’t have to swear off noble kavas bought from scrupulous vendors. So, what’s the big deal with flavokavain B?

Flavokavains A, B, and C (also spelled flavokavins or flavokawains) are not kavalactones but are actually chalconoid compounds; precursors to the flavonoids found in many pigmented food plants like dark berries and dark orange or green vegetables [5]. Flavonoids have become darlings in the nutrition science world because research has shown that many of them provide significant health benefits like lowering inflammation in tissues and acting as antioxidants. Similarly, there is evidence the flavokavains in Tudei kava might be antifungal, antibacterial, and antioxidant [5]; Dr. Xiaolin Zhi at University of California Irvine has even discovered a tumor-preventive potential of flavokavain A in lab tests on mice [6]!

Seems good so far, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, the research also suggests there are two big problems specifically with flavokavain B. First, Dr. Chris Xing of the University of Minnesota has stated that flavokavain B may deplete glutathione, an antioxidant, liver-protective enzyme [7]. In a recent video interview featured on Natural Products Insider, Xing said, “[T]hat compromises liver function for detoxification… which may contribute to the observed hepatotoxicity among kava users”. As an antioxidant, glutathione plays a crucial role in scavenging free radicals produced by mitochondria (the organelles responsible for cellular respiration), and a severe enough deficit of glutathione can be fatal for cells [8].

Even more troubling, this 2010 paper [9] found that flavokavain B also has direct toxic effects on two human liver cell lines: I’ll try not to get too technical, but the researchers found that adding flavokavain B to cultured liver cells inhibits a protein signaling pathway regulated by nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κ B) that is involved in preventing cell death caused by tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α). Under healthy conditions, these two signaling pathways balance each other, but when flavokavain B is added it knocks out the NF-κ B pathway, leading to apoptosis (death) of the treated liver cells.

Two things about this study stood out to me. One was that the researchers experimented with altering different parts of this process and discovered that adding exogenous glutathione rescued the liver cells from flavokavain B-induced cell death, even when the process had already been set in motion in the treated cells [9]. I couldn’t help but be reminded of studies of kava I’ve come across stating that brews prepared using traditional cold water steeping were found to extract glutathione into the water along with the kavalactones [10]. The Kava Guru finds it hard to believe that these two pieces of data are a coincidence!

Final Verdict—Should You Avoid Tudei Kava?

Well… it’s complicated. The paper described above reports the mechanism of toxicity for flavokavain B extracted from kava kava root using an organic solvent. It’s important to remember that the amount of flavokavain B present in the extract used does not necessarily match the amount that would be found in a traditionally prepared aqueous kava brew, or a kava extract prepared using a modern solvent such as supercritical cold CO2. It’s well known that ethanol and acetone, two once-common solvents used to extract kava, extract everything in the root, not just the kavalactones, and that could include much higher levels of potentially harmful flavokavain B [8].

In fact, on page 5, table 1 of the paper, the researchers compare concentrations of flavokavain B in aqueous kava brews versus acetone- and ethanol-extracted kava extracts: kava extracts made with a 60% acetone extract contained 26 mg of flavokavain B per 1 gram of kava used, while a pure acetone extract contained 33.7 mg/g, and a 95% ethanol extract contained 32.3 mg/g [9]. How much flavokavain B did a traditional water-based Tudei kava brew contain? 0.2 mg/g [9]! What surprises me most about this outcome is that it suggests solvent-extracted kava extracts may actually have had a role in some of the liver toxicity cases of the early 2000s, a theory I thought had been debunked until now.

The very small amount of flavokavain B in an aqueous Tudei kava brew should, I think, at least give one pause before totally condemning Tudei kava as unsafe. Furthermore, in a co-op paper with Samuel X. Qiu and Rolf Teschke, Vincent Lebot explored three possible explanations for the idiosyncratic liver toxicity found in some kava users in the early 2000s [11]. One of those possible mechanisms was the presence of flavokavain B from Tudei kava, and the other two were the presence of pipermethystine from the aerial parts of kava, and possible contamination of kava roots with mold toxins (aflatoxins). In their results, the researchers noted that although both flavokavain B and pipermethystine have been shown to kill liver cells in lab tests, neither compound was detected in the commercial kava extracts tested at levels that would be of concern to human health [11]. They couldn’t detect pipermethystine at all in the extracts they tested. As for flavokavain B, even in the kava extracts where it was present, Lebot et al report that the concentration was much too low to cause harm in their experimental tests on liver cells. The conclusion of the paper states that contamination with mold aflatoxins due to poor storage conditions of the kava tested is actually the most likely explanation for the liver toxicity seen in 2002 and earlier cases [11].

Of course, no one should ignore that flavokavain B has been shown to have a detrimental effect on liver cells. But rather than state unequivocally that Tudei kavas are dangerous to consume, we have to look at all the factors in their preparation in order to make an informed choice about consuming them. A Tudei kava that has been solvent extracted and probably contains significant levels of flavokavain B might be wise to avoid. While Tudei kavas are consumed in the South Pacific, these cultures have traditionally only steeped the roots in water, and restricted them to occasional ceremonial and medicinal use rather than everyday drinking. It seems now that there is sound science behind the tradition.

REFERENCES

1. “Kava Definitions”. Kava Forums: Connecting Kava Lovers Around the World. Last modified May 30th, 2014. http://www.kavaforums.com/forum/wiki/kava-definitions/.

2. “Tudei Kava”. Kona Kava Farm. Accessed July 2nd, 2014. http://www.konakavafarm.com/kava-tudei.html.

3. Procyk, Andrew. “Drinking Tudei? Someone thinks you should probably stop.” The Kava Lounge: Science of Kava. Posted August 25th, 2013. http://kavalounge.yuku.com/topic/1576/Drinking-tudei-Someone-thinks-you-should-probably-stop#.U6iUeBZBm1A.

4. “WHO says Kava is Safe!” Kona Kava Farm Blog. Accessed July 2nd, 2014. http://www.konakavafarm.com/blog/kava-news/who-says-kava-is-safe/.

5. “Simple Test for Checking if your Kava is Tudei”. Kava Forums: Connecting Kava Lovers Around the World. Last modified May 26th, 2014. http://www.kavaforums.com/forum/threads/simple-test-for-checking-if-your-kava-is-tudei-please-read-if-youre-new-to-kava.2451/.

6. Vasich, Tom. “Can Kava Kava Cure Cancer?” UC Irvine News. Accessed June 29th, 2014. http://news.uci.edu/features/can-kava-cure-cancer/.

7. “New Science May Boost Kava Market” Insider TV: Natural Products Insider. Accessed July 2nd,2014. http://www.naturalproductsinsider.com/videos/2014/05/insider-tv-new-science-may-boost-kava-market.aspx.

8. “Dr. Xing: ‘Hepatotoxic Risk due to wrong cultivar […] and that Cultivar is Tudei Kava”. Kava Forums: Connecting Kava Lovers Around the World. Last modified May 28th, 2014. http://www.kavaforums.com/forum/threads/dr-xing-hepatotoxic-risk-due-to-wrong-cultivar-and-that-cultivar-is-tudei-kava.2557/.

9. Ping Zhou, Shimon Gross, Ji-Hua Liu, Bo-Yang Yu, Ling-Ling Feng, Jan Nolta, Vijay Sharma, David Piwnica-Worms, and Samuel X. Qiu. December 2010. “Flavokawain B, the hepatotoxic constituent from kava root, induces GSH-sensitive oxidative stress through modulation of IKK/NF-kB and MAPK signaling pathways”. Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology Journal 24 (12): 4722-4732.

10. Whitton, PA, A Lau, A Salisbury, J Whitehouse, and CS Evans. October 2003. “Kavalactones and the kava kava controversy”. Phytochemistry 64 (3): 673-9.

11. Teschke, Rolf, Samuel X. Qiu, and Vincent Lebot. September 2011. “Herbal hepatotoxicity by kava: update on pipermethystine, flavokavain B, and mould hepatotoxins as primarily assumed culprits”. Digestive and Liver Disease 43 (9): 676-81.

How to Grow Kava Kava

How to Grow Kava Kava“But Kava Guru,” you may ask, “why learn how to grow kava kava when there are so many online retailers offering products almost as new and potent as the fresh variety?” While it is pretty easy to get high-quality dried kava root at reasonable prices these days, there’s still a difference between kava brewed from fresh roots and that brewed from the dried variety. This why many “kavasseurs” decide to take the next step in their kava appreciation by growing kava at home! If you want to try growing kava at home, search for a kava vendor selling live seedlings or rootstock. Keep in mind that domesticated Piper methysticum (kava kava) plants are sterile—meaning they produce no seed—and new plants must always be grown from cuttings or the root bundle of the plant. Kava kava has relied on humans for its propagation for hundreds if not thousands of years.

Basic Requirements of Kava Kava

As a tropical plant, kava kava is happiest at temperatures of 68-80 degrees Fahrenheit (20-25 Celsius), and in conditions with lots of water, sun and moderate humidity [1]. If you live in a warm southern state, say Florida, Texas, Southern California or of course Hawaii, you may just be able to keep kava happy outside all year long! Residents of more northern states can usually still plant kava outside in the summer, but should take it inside or to a greenhouse once temperatures drop to 55 degrees Fahrenheit (13 Celsius) or below for three consecutive nights. In nature, kava kava usually grows under the jungle canopy, so it does best with partial shade rather than full sun, especially when young; a good indoor solution is to keep kava in a pot next to a sunny window to provide good light conditions [1].

Watering and Soil Requirements

Pot your kava kava plant in loose soil that allows for water drainage to prevent root rot: growers usually recommend a blend of 50% organic compost and 50% Perlite or coconut coir. Remember, kava evolved to expect regular rainfall in its jungle habitat, so water your kava regularly! If you’re growing it in a drier environment such as indoors, you’ll probably want to mist your kava’s leaves with a spray bottle to maintain a good level of humidity. Make sure to keep it away from air conditioning vents (or areas of high wind, if outside), as it could dry out your kava plant [1]. When kava kava is young, it typically needs a soil depth of between 6 inches to a foot to put down roots; however, as it matures kava will require much deeper soil so that its root system can expand. One method is to repot kava in your garden bed: select an area where the soil is at least 2 feet deep, then dig a hole 2 to 3 times deeper than the length of your kava plant’s roots. Add a couple trowelsfull of compost, manure, or fertilizer (see below for the recommended fertilizer ratio!). Then backfill the hole with about half the loose soil you just removed, place your kava plant into the hole and gently tamp the loose soil around the base of the stem [2].

Fertilizer Requirements

As a jungle plant, kava kava rapidly depletes nutrients in the soil, so it will definitely do best with a rich fertilizer in the mix. You can add a natural humus, animal manure, or even a commercial nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium (NPK) fertilizer. If you go with an NPK fertilizer, use an element ratio of 14-14-14; when the plant is young, use about the half the manufacturer’s recommended dose to avoid burning the young kava’s roots, which can lead to root rot—definitely not something you want! Once your kava has reached maturity at one or two years, you can add more fertilizer. Replenish your kava plant’s fertilizer once a month. A bonus of adding fertilizer is that it helps the soil maintain a pH balance of between 5.5-6.5, which mimics that of the soil in kava’s indigenous jungle habitat [3].

Protecting Kava from Pests and Disease

It’s pretty rare for kava grown in the home or garden to have disease or pest problems, but it can happen. Some pathogens kava is susceptible to include phoma or “shothole” fungus, cucumber mosaic virus (CMV), Pythium root rot, root knot nematodes, melon aphids, and spider mites. Whew! The most common causes of these pathogens is diseased or infested starting material, and poor growing conditions that make the kava plants susceptible to infection. Buy your kava plants in person if possible, or if ordering online, check them as soon as your shipment arrives to make sure the plants don’t show signs of disease like wilted or curled leaves, holes or spots on leaves, or roots that might be swollen, deformed, or rotted. Compost any diseased looking plants you find, and don’t mix the compost in with healthy plants [2]. Poor growing conditions can also contribute to disease, especially poor soil drainage, so always make sure your plant’s soil drains well; maintaining a moderate level of humidity can also go a long way toward deterring pests like spider mites and aphids. You can also usually wash pests off kava leaves with a strong jet of water, or apply a gentle insecticidal soap to the leaves—just make sure not to let it dry on them. Sprinkling a little diatomaceous earth around the top of the soil can also help control soft-bodied insects [2].

How to Propagate Kava Kava

Let’s say your kava plant is growing wonderfully and you’ve started to think about getting some seedlings started. There are two ways to propagate kava plants, both of them fairly easy once you get the hang of it [4]. The first method is to divide your kava plant’s root bundle: gently pull your kava plant from its pot or garden bed and brush off any excess soil. Then divide the root mass in places where you see smaller root masses branching off—this may be easiest at the edges of the root mass, where there are usually many root offshoots. Remove the offshoots and repot them in smaller containers, then replant the parent plant, and you’re done! A Young Kava Seedling

Young kava seedlings can be grown from root or stem cuttings.

Once your kava plant has sufficiently matured, you can also take stem cuttings to make new kava seedlings. These are areas along kava’s aboveground stem, usually near the nodes, where new leaves branch off on daughter stems called pikos. To make sure your plant is mature enough, wait until the stem is tough enough that you can’t easily penetrate its skin with a thumbnail. Use a clean blade to remove greenwood stem cuttings from the stalk, and pot up the cuttings in a loose mixture of organic compost and vermiculite or coconut coir. Place the cuttings in a greenhouse ( to create humidity) or a heated propagator. You can also place a loose plastic tarp over the cuttings and mist the inside periodically to maintain humidity [4].

Harvesting Your Kava Root

Ah, now we get to the part you’ve all been waiting for! Growing kava is a project that takes patience, not least of all because you must wait 2 to 5 years for kava to fully mature before harvesting its roots. Harvesting kava before at least one year of age (ideally two or more) could kill or seriously harm the plant. This will also give time for the accumulation of kavalactones in the roots, making for a stronger kava brew [3]! Luckily, kava kava is easy to harvest: simply pull the roots gently from the soil, wash off the rootstock, and snip off a few lateral roots. These are the roots growing along the soil. Lateral roots are generally considered to be higher in kavalactones and have a better flavor than the vertical root [3]. After repotting your plant, examine the harvested roots and discard any that have mold on them. Cut the fresh roots into small sections, and freeze or sun dry any that you don’t plan to use immediately. Now you have your very own supply of exquisitely fresh, potent kava root. Yum! Mahalo, Kava Guru REFERENCES 1. “Kava Plant for Sale”. Buy Kava Direct. Accessed June 2nd, 2014. http://buykavadirect.com/kava-plant-for-sale/. 2. Green, Jenny. “How to Grow Kava Kava”. eHow. Last updated May 29th, 2014. http://www.ehow.com/how_4421053_grow-kava-kava.html. 3. “Kava Plants”. Kona Kava Farm Accessed June 6th, 2014. http://www.konakavafarm.com/kava-plants.html. 4. “Growing Piper methysticum– Kava Kava”. Plot55. Accessed June 5th, 2014. http://plot55.com/growing/p.methysticum.html.

What Are Leis For?

What Are Leis For?Most people know leis as those fragrant chains of fresh flowers that get placed around one’s neck at Hawaiian resorts. Yet, you may be wondering, what are leis for in Hawaiian and South Pacific culture beyond promoting tourism? Because it turns out leis are a lot more than a gimmick invented to bolster the tourist industry—in fact, leis have long been used in Polynesia, and later Hawaii, as a way of bestowing love, respect and honor on someone [1].

Though in the popular imagination leis usually take the form of a garland of fresh flowers, my research has uncovered that leis can be made out of all sorts of objects. The only requirement for something to be a lei is that it be a collection of objects woven or strung together into a garland that is typically worn around the neck [2]. Hawaiian and Polynesian leis are frequently made from flowers, with the most common being plumeria, orchids, tuberose and carnations [1]. They may also be made from vines, leaves, seed pods, bone or shell, feathers, even paper money! The only constant is that leis are intended to be worn, and that they function as a sign of affection, honor or respect bestowed on the recipient [2, 3].

The cultural tradition of the lei spread from an origin in Polynesia to Hawaii with the first human immigrants to the islands. People are often given leis at occasions where they are the guest of honor: birthdays, weddings, graduations, retirement parties and the like [3]. With the introduction of Lei Day on May 1st, 1927—the same day as May Day in the rest of the United States—the lei has also become a symbol of cultural solidarity for indigenous Hawaiians. The concept of Lei Day was first proposed in 1927 by Don Blanding, a poet and writer for the Honolulu Star Bulletin. Each island in the Hawaiian archipelago now marks Lei Day with its own color and style of lei woven from native flowers [1].

Even though leis orginated in Polynesia, today they represent a uniquely Hawaiian experience for many tourists, who are often given leis upon their arrival at resorts and other attractions. The type of lei most visitors are familiar with is the plumeria lei, made from fragrant fresh plumeria flowers strung on a cord or string. However, there are many other kinds of lei that are even more significant in indigenous Hawaiian culture. For instance, the maile leaf lei made from the maile vine was once used to cement peace agreements between warring chiefs: the two leaders would meet in a heiau, or temple, to intertwine their maile leaf leis in a symbolic expression of renewed harmony and peace [3].

Fortunately, lei etiquette is pretty casual these days: despite the garland’s ceremonial contexts, it’s also fine for anyone to wear a lei outside of a formal occasion, or even buy one at an airport giftshop [2]. Basically, there are only three rules of lei etiquette you need to follow [3]:

1. Always accept a lei that is given to you. If someone gives you a lei, it is a sign of their respect, affection or esteem for you, so refusing it–or removing it in their presence–is considered rude.

2. If you cannot wear a lei someone gives you (due to allergy, for example), display the lei in a prominent place close to you.

3. Never discard a lei into the trash. A lei is a symbol of respect and love, so throwing it away is like symbolically throwing away the love of that person. Alternatives are to return the lei to the place where the flowers and vines that make it up were collected—or if you don’t have that option, return the lei to a natural spot such as a wooded area where it can return to the earth.

You can also leave your lei to dry in the sun over a few days; dried leis make a great decoration and will also perfume your house with a wonderful tropical fragrance. It’s hard to think of a better way to bring a little piece of the South Pacific back home… except perhaps bringing back a nice bundle of dried kava root!

Mahalo,

Kava Guru

REFERENCES

1. “Lei (Garland)”. Wikipedia. Accessed April 30th, 2014. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lei_(garland).

2. “What Are Leis?” WiseGEEK: Clear Answers for Common Questions. Accessed April 22nd, 2014. http://www.wisegeek.com/what-are-leis.htm.

3. “The Hawaiian Lei Tradition”. Hawaiian Flower Lei. Accessed April 24th, 2014. https://www.hawaiiflowerlei.com/leitradition.aspx.

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.

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