Understanding the history and many uses of Kava.
Where Does Kava Come From?
Kava, a tropical evergreen shrub typically used to make ceremonial drinks from the plant’s roots. People have been using kava for around 3,000 years. Kava originated from either New Guinea or Vanuatu, a South Pacific Ocean nation made up of about 80 islands that stretch roughly 1,300 kilometers. It started to gain popularity and started spreading to different areas in Polynesia like Hawaii. The presence of this plant in areas where it’s not indigenous helps us understand the movement of people, and where they were teaching people about kava. The spread of this plant in new places also meant new varieties started to develop among various islands. Unfortunately in places like New Zealand, where the plant can’t grow, it never became very popular.
What Are Its Benefits?
Treasured by Pacific Islanders for centuries thanks to its unique effects, traditionally used as a ceremonial drink to stimulate a state of relaxation. Its active ingredient called kavalactones, make up approximately 3-20% of the dry ground-up root. Kavalactones
- Decrease anxiety
- Help relax muscles
- Aid with sleep
- Reduce pain
Like many other things, the effects vary from person to person. It is not an alcoholic beverage nor a psychedelic drug. However, it does have sedative and analgesic effects. A feeling of numbness in the mouth and throat is also a common experience. But there can be side effects to consuming kava to keep in mind, such as
- Overly drowsy
How Kava’s Prepared
Traditionally, kava was prepared by having people cut the root into small pieces for them to chew on and spit into a bowl, where it was mixed with coconut milk. Often children or young women were chosen to chew the root because of their perceived lowered levels of bacteria. When kava was introduced to westerners, they were not fond of the chewing part of the kava process. This made grinding up the root became more prevalent than chewing the root as time went by. Want to learn more about its rich history? Click here.
Interested in trying kava yourself? Click here.