There are over 150 types of kava but only some are traditionally used and considered safe to use. Also, kava can work well (if done properly) when extracted by ethanol, water, and CO2.
We are sure you have questions & wondering which kava is safe then or how to choose the one that works for you!
Don’t worry, we have all the answers for you in this article Kava Spectrum: Choosing the best kava in the market.
Let’s begin, shall we?
What is Kava?
Kava or Piper methysticum belongs to the pepper family. It is found in the South Pacific regions of the world such as Vanuatu, Hawaii, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa and Solomon Islands to name a few.
Ronald Reichert describes kava as “an attractive plant with woody, jointed stems and leaves that are heart-shaped and dark green in color.”
It can grow up to 15 feet in height & is usually two-three inches thick. A good quality kava cultivation takes up to five years to grow!
The most prized part of the kava plant are the roots which are heavily intertwined & knotted. We will find the “why” soon.
Kava has been traditionally used as a talanoa or conversation starter to welcome dignitaries to a ceremony such as a marriage.
It is also known as- ava, yaqona, awa, kava kava, sakau, malok.
The most prominent chemical compound found in kava is called kavalactones. Kavalactones’ composition varies according to the preparation method & species of the kava plant.
Before we look into the types and forms, let us briefly look at kava’s impact on our body.
Traditionally, kava is consumed by sun-drying the peeled roots, mixed with water or coconut milk, & filtered with a soft cloth.
Remember from earlier that “the most prized part of the kava plant are the roots which are heavily intertwined & knotted”? This is because they contain the most kavalactones.
Kavalactones give kava its calming & mindfulness effect (reason why the world is going gaga over it for years now, especially in the West). Recent studies have also shown its potential in anti-cancer properties!
According to one paper, the estimated kavalactones found in traditional drink varies anywhere between 750-8000mg kavalactones/day depending upon the regions. It might look like a lot but even WHO’s 2016 report has deemed this fit for health.
Kava’s positive impact has been established scientifically & subjectively over the course of many years. Evidence based research shows kava’s beneficial payoff on sleep & anxiety.
The general response from users range between heavy, heady, dreamy, and deeply relaxing.
But do all kava produce the same impact? Is there a role for time? Let’s find out.
The Time Matters
Kava’s impact isn’t instant. As mentioned earlier, unlike the popular myth, kava is not alcohol.
Therefore, it is recommended to take small servings and divide them into multiple sessions.
Recommended dosage for traditional mix is 30-50 gm of kava powder in water. Since kava’s taste is bitter, many people like to add a lot of water to dilute the taste or chase with fruits.
Remember to enjoy your time with kava & not feel the need to chug it. Be in a comfortable space, create a calm environment, be in the right company, & create the kava experience.
Choosing The Right Kava
Beyond time, one must consider the following factors:
Cultivars and/or chemotypes: Cultivars is defined as: a particular variety of a plant whose characteristics have been controlled by people in the way it has been bred. There are over 150 types of cultivars. Amongst the leading producer, Vanuatu has 4 major types: noble, tudei or two-day, medicinal, and wichmanni.
Only the noble kava is allowed for export as it provides safer and desirable user experience. So when you choose your product, look for the noble kava on the description, always.
Two-day kava may give a good high but we know very little about it & it is deemed harsh for the body. Thus, be safe and choose wisely.
Plants Part: By now you know root is the most precious part. But kava can be prepared with rhizomes, stem peelings. Only the leaves aren’t used for kava preparation.
The export market is primarily based on the roots and rhizomes. The stem peelings are to be avoided as they contain high concentrations of alkaloids that can cause cytotoxicity.
Extraction Solvents: Traditionally, water has been used as a solvent but with its advent in the Western market, new solvents have been introduced. Why? To extract the kavalactones in a better & potent manner.
So what are commercial products using? Majority of them are ethanol, water and CO2. On the other hand, traditional kava used by the native people are aqueous/water extracts.
Which one’s better? The aqueous extract as opposed to CO2 or ethanol. As compared to the two options, aqueous extract is considered traditional but there are scientific gains in CO2 and ethanol which have been shown to be safe and effective.
In conclusion, you need to look for a noble kava made with dried roots and observe the extraction method used.
The Kava Spectrum
You now understand what to look for in your kava but what options are available in the market?
The most popular formats are: traditional, instant, micro ionised, and________. We will reveal the surprise blank a little later 😉
Traditional kava is simply dried kava roots grounded into fine powder. It’s easy & fun. For instance, our proprietary blend from Fiji is simple to make & consume.
All you have to do is: Use 1 part kava in a strainer bag per 4 parts water. Knead bag in water for 10 minutes. Remove the bag and enjoy. It’s perfect for those long kava sessions 🙂
Instant kava, on the other hand, is made by dehydrating fresh kava beverages. It’s kinda like instant coffee. It is potent and tends to be very pricey.
Micronized kava is a blend between traditional and instant. You don’t need a strainer here. As compared to the other kava on the spectrum, this one is very effective – you will get a little “grit” but it comes with the territory.
& now the surprise as promised 😀
Kava Kava Candies
Let’s be honest, some people do not want to taste the bitter, muddy water taste that natural kava has!
Don’t get us wrong, we love the traditional blend ourselves and long kava sessions but we wanted to give our customers an alternative, to help enhance the kava experience.
To smooth out the bitter taste, we added orange and ginger mint flavour to the noble kava.
Kava enthusiasts say that 1-2 candies takes them from a 9 down to a 5 on the stress scale and gets them out of the RED ZONE so that situations can be dealt with calmly and efficiently.
These candies are tasty & overwhelmingly easy to use. Just pop the candy on the go, during work hours, before sleep. However and whenever you like. No mixing, no straining, no long sessions 😉
Interested in joining the stress-free world? Simply click on this link & place your order today.
In case you’re a traditional person, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered there too. Get our noble root kava blend, straight from Fiji 🙂
Subscribe to Kava kava candy or kava powder & save up to 20%
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Dasgupta, A. (2019). Effects of herbal supplements on clinical laboratory test results. Accurate Results in the Clinical Laboratory, 295–318. https://doi.org/10.1016/b978-0-12-813776-5.00018-2
Heaton, T. (2021). Kava: The Pacific’s Economic “Diamond” Is Being Coveted By Competitors. In Honolulu Civil Beat. Retrieved from https://www.civilbeat.org/2021/08/kava-the-pacifics-economic-diamond-is-being-coveted-by-competitors/
Kilham, K. (n.d.). The Rising and Falling Fortunes of Vanuatu Kava – American Botanical Council. Retrieved October 14, 2021, from herbalgram.org website: http://herbalgram.org/resources/herbalgram/issues/128/table-of-contents/hg128-feat-kava/
Staff, H. (n.d.). Kava | Michigan Medicine. Retrieved from www.uofmhealth.org website: https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/tn7356spec