What is Kava?
Kava kava is made from the roots of Piper methysticum and is usually referred to as simply “kava” for short. A tropical evergreen shrub with heart-shaped leaves and woody stems, kava originates from the islands of the Pacific Ocean. It has a long and tried history of consumption in these areas and it is considered a safe and enjoyable beverage. Traditionally kava is used as a ceremonial drink to help induce relaxation during rituals and social gatherings. They make kava by grinding the roots into a paste (traditionally this was performed by chewing the roots and spitting them out; nowadays it’s usually done by hand. In case you were wondering, we create the paste by hand). (; The paste is then diluted with water, strained, and consumed. Today, kava is used in the US for many different reasons. More and more people are searching for better alternatives to alcohol or prescription drugs. Read on to learn what this “kava culture” is all about!
First things first, how does kava work? The active ingredient in kava is kavalactones (sometimes called kavapyrones). For reference, kavalactones can make up for anywhere between 3 and 20% of the dry weight of the root of the plant that kava is made from. This is what makes you feel relaxed and even euphoric. There’s a lot of science behind it- how Kava interacts with our neurotransmitters and delivers its beneficial effects. I’m not a scientist. I was a music major in college. We all know how to google. I’m here to tell you how kava has changed and improved MY life first-hand. But first, I DID read the abstracts of a couple studies and found the following: Kava has been researched for its beneficial effects including potential anticonvulsant effects, a better way to cope with anxiety and stress, and a natural sleep aid. In addition, kava has also been shown to protect neurons from damage, reduce sensations of pain, and even reduce the risk of cancer as shown through research on mice (even though we are against animal testing!!)
While kava may have a long list of potential benefits, the majority of existing research focuses on kava’s ability to help users cope with anxiety. Fair enough, anxiety disorders are among the most common psychiatric disorders today. *Friendly reminder*, it’s 2019 people! Mental health is something we should no longer be ashamed of! Current research supports the use of kava for treating anxiety; it has been shown it can be as effective as certain prescription drugs without the unwanted side-effects and no evidence of dependency. Need I say more?
*Of course, too much of anything can’t be good for you. Mixing kava with alcohol may be dangerous for your liver. We recommend consuming kava in moderation*
So how does kava make you feel?
We drink kava for its effects, not its taste. As kava is made from a root, it has a very earthy taste and may contain sediment that settles at the bottom of your cup. Your first sip of kava may slightly numb your mouth, but it will take a few servings to feel its full effects, especially if you have not consumed kava before. Personally, I prefer to drink kava at night because I find it very relaxing. There’s nothing better than sinking into a cozy Pause couch and getting “rooted”! As your body starts to relax, your mind may feel lighter as well, resulting in a sense of calm and euphoria. Despite its soothing effects you will not feel “out of control” or turn into a different version of yourself. You won’t run around making bad decisions you’ll regret the next day. This is the beauty of kava!
How does kava work for me?
I’m not sure how my mother will feel about me stating this fact, but I used to drink a lot of alcohol. I have always been very functional. I did well in school and later did fine at work, so it never really became an issue for me. However, I didn’t want to drink as much as I did. I remember getting home to my apartment after a long day at my internship and drinking an entire bottle of wine several times a week. I didn’t know how to relax without it. When hanging out with friends in college we were always drinking. When I was trying to lose weight I remember telling myself “I’m only going to drink on weekends!” I failed again and again…eventually, I gave up. In my experience it’s very difficult for young adults to recognize they may be entering the danger-zone of alcohol consumption. It’s socially acceptable, perfectly legal, and it’s everywhere. When everyone in my life was out at the bar, I felt like that’s where I should be too. I didn’t know there was a safer alternative and I spent years of my life trying to fit in to a culture I didn’t even want to be a part of.
Fast-forward to March when we opened Pause.. I had already been drinking kratom (a delicious botanical tea I will write about soon!) but never really tried kava. I’ll be honest, it doesn’t taste great. I began drinking more kava and experimenting with how it made me feel. Slowly over time I found myself drinking alcohol so much less. With kava, I noticed I could very easily take it or leave it. At this point I drink kava several nights a week to relax, and I drink alcohol on special occasions or whenever I feel like it! I no longer feel like I am out of control, and I really owe it to kava. I don’t wake up in the morning with a deep feeling of guilt or embarrassment (or a headache). I’ve really been trying to become a better version of myself this year, and I’m getting there.
In conclusion, I’m not trying to stop you from drinking or asking you to get off your medications. I just want you to know there’s an amazing alternative out there, and it’s actually right around the corner. If you’d like to try kava take a Pause…at 131 Swinton and one of our awesome kavatenders will be happy to serve you and answer any questions you may have!
Kava helped me break free from an unhealthy cycle. How will it help you?