Kava is a herbal remedy. It is made from Piper methysticum roots which is a part of the nightshade plant family. It is found on various islands in the Pacific Ocean in places like Tonga, Fiji and other Polynesia cultures. People in these locations have used it for many years as traditional medicine and in social gatherings.
It is made by drying out the roots of the plant and crushing these to powder. Water is added and they drink it. Drinking it may induce relaxation as well as help to relieve stress and insomnia. Generally, it is consumed for its perceived sedating and calming effects.
The active ingredient in the plant is referred to as kavalactones. The plant root is used for making a drink that has anesthetic, sedative and euphoriant effects. In fact, a study has shown that it can be used to treat short-term anxiety. You can see more on this here.
Kava can be made into several products after it is extracted from the root of the Piper methysticum plant. You can find some of these products below.
This is the most common way of taking kava. This tea is typically sold alone but can as well be sold with other herbs that are touted as promoting relaxation. It is brewed with hot water.
When buying the tea, ensure to check the labeling and find a listing of the kavalactone content. This is because it is the active ingredient in the product. You should avoid those that list theirs as “proprietary blends”. This is because they do not let you know the quantity of kava that is present.
Not everyone likes the way kava tastes. It does not mean that people like this should be deprived of the wonders of the substance. For those in this category, they can take it in capsule form.
Just like in buying tea, watch out for products listing the kavalactone content. For instance, a capsule may contain 100mg of the root extract and this has around 30% of kavalactones. When you are armed with this information, it will help to control the quantity of kavalactones that you consume.
Liquids and Tinctures
Kava is also available in small bottles whose sizes range from 2-6 ounces. You may take this with a tincture or if you prefer mix it with another drink. Doing this can help to conceal its whiskey-like taste.
When using tincture bottles and liquids, you should only take small doses. This is because the kavalactones present are concentrated. This makes liquid products the most potent form of taking the substance.
Kava is also used as an ingredient in other products. By itself, when ground and mixed in water, it has a murky brownish-grayish color and tastes bitter. However, it can taste better when mixed with other ingredients.
There are kava-based liquid dietary supplements that are infused with different flavors to make kava taste better and look more appealing. These flavors can include pineapple, raspberry, strawberry, blueberry and other fruits. The flavors with the addition of other ingredients make it delicious and healthy to drink.
What Is The Right Dosage to Take?
It is important that you do not overdose on kava. Too much of anything can be quite dangerous and detrimental. At the same time, for it to be effective, you need to take the right amount. If it is too little, it may be ineffective.
Experts recommend that you should not exceed a daily intake of 250mg of kavalactones. An ideal and effective dose is between 70mg to 250mg. When used as an ingredient in other products or as supplements, the kavalactones content may be written as a percentage. For products like these, you will need to calculate how much kavalactones is present.
As a guide, a product that contains 200mg of the root extract typically contains around 60% kavalactones. To get the right amount in mg, divide 60 by 100.
That is 60/100 = 0.6
Multiply that by the 200
200mg x 0.6 = 120mg.
This means that a product that contains 200mg of the kava root extract has 120mg of kavalactones.
How It Works
Kava affects the central nervous system as well as the brain much like alcohol does but it does not hinder mental clarity. The kavalactones contained in the substance works on the body and cause a user to feel relaxed, calm as well as happy. It is also believed to help in relieving pain and preventing seizures.
Kava contains 18 different kavalactones but 6 out of these are the most important and active. These six are responsible for more than 90% of the active ingredients in any variety of the substance. The six are:
The first sensation you will likely feel when drinking Kava is a slight numbing of the lips and tongue. This is due to the action of Kavain and Dihydrokavain as they cause the blood vessels to contract acting as an anesthetic. This feeling is temporary and will disappear afterward.
All the kavalactones interact with the brain’s limbic system which is the part that is associated with emotional behavior. They bind to receptors in the amygdala the portion of the brain that controls fear and anxiety. This explains why a user of kava is calm and is relieved of anxiety.
How Safe Is It?
Consuming kava is generally safe when you do not overdose on it. Moderately taking it is acceptable and presents a low level of risk. However, be careful of poor-quality products and those with organic solvents. This may present unfavorable health outcomes. You should also avoid consuming it with alcohol.
Kava may bring about symptoms such as:
- Liver injury
- Skin problems.
The key to avoiding most of these symptoms is to be responsible and consume it moderately. Better still, consume a product that has a measured amount of the substance. You can read more about all these here https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-news/kava-inside-the-all-natural-high-thats-sweeping-america-125828/.
Kava is a substance that is useful in treating anxiety and other similar ailments due to its calming effects. Ensure to always check the amount of its content in any product you buy and consume it in moderation. To be on the safe side, before you do start taking this substance, it may be best to consult with your doctor.