Kava Kava 13/07/2020

Kava Kava (Latin Piper methysticum) is a plant of the pepper family, as well as the well-known black pepper tree. Their kinship is noticeable from the first sight thanks to identical heart leaves and a penetrating pepper aroma.

The plant has been used for centuries in the Western Pacific, especially on the islands of Fiji, Vanuatu, but also in Hawaii, where it is part of the daily lives of the locals. It serves as a socialization tool with a similar role as alcohol in our country. However, its use is far more conscious – Kava is seen as a sacred plant and the social events of which Kava is a part are seen primarily as spiritual encounters, accompanied by various rituals and sacred ceremonies.

HISTORY

The plant has been used in the Pacific region for over 3000 years and is still an important part of its life. Its use is commonplace here, just like in our country drinking coffee or tea. It is used not only in the context of social life, but also as part of indigenous medicine. Kava is an effective sedative and is able to fight insomnia, anxiety and depression. Parts of the plant are also placed on open wounds and serve as disinfection. Kava Kava was not known to our Western society until the 18th century when sailor James Cook discovered this plant during his travels across the Pacific. He then began to examine its effects and then described it  as “intoxicating pepper.”

Kava ceremonie

CHEMICAL COMPOSITION

Plant roots are used to prepare the beverage. These include amide alkaloids such as piperidine, pyrrolidine or isobutamine. Furthermore, there are many kavalactones, which are the most important component of the plant. They are responsible for its magical effects on the nervous system. The most important kavalactones are kawain, dihydrokawain, methysticin or dihydromethysticin.

EFFECTS

Kava is used mainly for its relaxing, relaxing and intoxicating effects. It is thus able to effectively combat anxiety, stress, and depression. It also acts as an effective hypnotic. It induces peaceful and undisturbed sleep, and is therefore used as a remedy for insomnia.

In medicine, Kava is used for its analgesic effects. It relieves pain of all kinds, relaxes muscles and also helps against cramps. All this without inhibiting the cognitive functions of the nervous system, as is usual in other substances with similar effects. This selective action on the nervous system is truly unique, and so the active substances of Kava have been the focus of many scientific studies in recent years.

Kava is also applied externally. Parts of the plant are also placed on open wounds and serve as disinfection. It also serves as a local anesthetic, which can be felt during the first sips.

Recent studies show that the active substances in the plant can also help in the treatment of the urinary and genital tract. There are also described anaphrodisiac effects – under the influence of Kava one loses interest in sex.

 

KAVA AND ALTERED STATES OF CONSCIOUSNESS

Despite feelings of relaxation, Kava’s effects are unique in that the functions of the nervous system are not usually inhibited. On the contrary, the mind becomes stimulated and altered in a specific way. After using Kava, the mind begins to require more intense stimuli, becoming more receptive to its surroundings and to itself. The senses become sharper – hearing becomes softer, visual perception brightens. The surrounding world gets a more colorful and organic touch. The mind is calm, alert and positive. There are pleasant emotions, feelings of relaxation or euphoria, which are evident especially at higher doses. Thoughts deepen and slow down. The ability to concentrate is improved. It is for these effects on the mind that Kava is used as a tool for deep meditation.

 

KAVA IN WESTERN MEDICINE

Decades ago, the plant’s medicaments began to be used in Western medicine to combat a variety of neurotic disorders as a replacement for classical antidepressants. Studies have subsequently confirmed that unlike these antidepressants, Kava is not addictive and does not dull the mind. In the American scientific publications, Kava was even classified as a plant without dangerous side effects that are suitable for the treatment of civilization diseases. However, some did not like the spread of Kava, and so at the turn of the 21st century, various studies began to argue that Kava is dangerous and that its use leads to liver damage. These studies have caused confusion in society, and preparations with Kava and the use of this plant have disappeared for some time. In recent years, new studies have shown that the original claims were not fully substantiated and Kava, while following certain safety principles (see below) does not cause harm to the body.

 

PREPARATION OF KAVA IN THE FORM OF ROOT POWDER

Traditional preparation

  1. Place your filter bag in the bowl.
  2. Measure 2-4 tablespoons (10-20g) of root powder for each dose of Kava and place it in a filter bag.
  3. Fill the filter bag approx. 300ml of hot water (not boiling!) For each dose of Kava.
  4. Soak the powder in hot water for 5 minutes to obtain the desired consistency.
  5. Close the top of the filter bag and start squeezing and kneading it alternately. Be careful not to let the powder get out of it. Perform this process for 5 minutes.
  6. Then remove the filter bag from the bowl and keep the powder from the root for further preparation, or discard it. In the bowl, you will find a Kava drink that is ready for immediate consumption.

Fast preparation

Measure 2-4 tablespoons (10-20g) of root powder and approx. 300ml of hot water (not boiling!) for each dose of Kava and place in a blender. Mix for 5 minutes. Filter the resulting beverage through a filter. This makes Kava ready for immediate consumption.

Preparation using Aluball

Measure 2-4 tablespoons (10-20g) of root powder and place in an Aluball strainer. Pour approx. 300 hot (not boiling!) water and put Aluball strainer into it. Close the container and shake it well for several minutes. After a few minutes, the resulting kava drink should be ready to be consumed immediately. Save the root powder for further preparation or discard it.

 

PREPARATION OF KAVA IN THE FORM OF MICRONIZED POWDER

Pour two tablespoons (10g) of micronized powder into any liquid and mix. The drink is ready for immediate consumption.

PREPARATION OF KAVA IN EXTRACT FORM

The root extract is prepared from approx. 0,5g, which is poured with water, which must not be hot, otherwise it would destroy the active substances. We can add milk or honey for flavoring. We can also add the extract to the capsule and swallow it.

CONTRAINDICATION

Kava Kava should not be combined with alcohol and psychopharmaceuticals. Although it has been shown that Kava is not harmful to the liver, special caution is required in individuals who already have a liver problem and should first consult a physician regarding plant use.

The plant is also not suitable for long-term use because of the possibility of skin diseases and possible stomach problems.