Dear Kava Guru,
I’m new to kava. Do you have a Kava for Beginners Guide???
Ken, Cincinnati, OH
Requests 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:
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 . 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 . 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 . 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.
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 . 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.
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,
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