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Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions(top)
***The statements on this website have not been evaluated by the FDA.**
**This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease**
Is Kava Safe?
Please see this article that outlines the safety of kava: http://www.kavaforums.com/forum/wiki/kava-safety/
What is reverse tolerance?
Reverse tolerance is defined by the kava community as the "break in" period where the new kava consumer may not feel any effects at all from kava. It is theorized that for some people a certain level of kavalactone buildup in the body must be present before one begins to feel the full effects from kava. The range of time it may take to overcome the reverse tolerance ranges per individual, from weeks to up to a month and a half. Some individuals feel the effects immediately.
Reverse tolerance also applies to the principal that the more often you drink kava, the less kava you need to achieve your desired level of therapeutic effects. Kavalactones build up in the body, and the more frequently you replenish them, the more effect you will recieve off of your given amount.
Where should I buy kava?
There are many places to purchase from. Vendors who are active on the forums include Bula Kava House,
Gourmet Hawaiian Kava, Noble Kava, Ozia Kava Candy, The kava roots, Cactus Kava, Squanch Kava, Luna Kava, Kalm with Kava & Kavafied. Check and see if there is a 'nakamal' or 'kava bar' in your local area.
For reviews of kava products, look in each vendor's sub-forum. Do not buy kava products that contain leaves or stems of the plant.
Are the kava products at my local health store, pharmacy, headshop, etc, worth purchasing?
Unlikely. These products as a rule of thumb do not contain enough kava to achieve a worthwhile effect and are generally quite expensive compared to ordering from nakamals. Some manufacturers have suspect manufacturing practices such as using aerial portions of the plant in the extract, something that would never be done in the Pacific islands. If you'd like to purchase kava locally, check to see if there is a nakamal or kava bar in your area, or double check on the forums to see if your local product is worth purchasing.
How do I prepare kava?
There are a few general methods that have all been used with success and all seem to give relatively the same potency of the kava. The general methods include using: "Traditional" (kneading, massaging), a blender and using a rolling pin.
Detailed, tried-and-true methods can be found here: http://www.kavaforums.com/forum/wiki/kava-preparation/
Do I need to soak kava?
Short answer: No. Long answer: Kava is not a solution; the kacalactone resin on the roots must be agitated in order to emulsify it into the water. Soaking will not significantly increase the potency of your kava.
Should kava be strained? If so, how?
Instant kava does not need to be strained. While kava root powder can be consumed whole ("toss-and-wash"), it may result in intestinal discomfort, and there is the additional issue of consuming possibly dangerous compounds not present in strained kava. If you choose to strain your kava, it is important to AGITATE the kava and not just let it soak. This is because kavalactones are not water soluble; they must be mixed in with the water forcefully. For more details on how to accomplish this, see Kava Preparation.
What temperature water should I use for making kava?
A study by the University of Hawaii at Manoa concluded that using hot but not boiling (113 Fahrenheit) water significantly aided the extraction of kavalactones. Some forum users have found that using boiling water can increase the potency of kava. Regardless of what temperature the kava is prepared at, chilling it before drinking will improve the taste.
How does food affect the experience? Should I drink kava on an empty stomach?
The emptier your stomach is, the more mileage you will get out of your kava. If you have a sensitive digestion, you may find it helpful to eat a small, non-offensive meal an hour or two before consumption.
Some people have also found that having a light meal between 30-60min after drinking kava can have a positive effect on the experience.
Therapeutic Uses, Effects, Addiction
Kava is most frequently used to ease stress, insomnia and anxiety (as a treatment for panic disorder, social phobia, PTSD, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder etc) but has many other benefits. Kava can also be a great-antidepressant, helps with muscle tension and muscular pain, neuropathic pain such as sciatica and even as an anti-craving substance that has helped many people come off benzodiazepines, alcohol and other drugs.
The effects of Kava can be felt within 5 minutes, and last for about 3-5 hrs on average can be felt for up to eight hours. Some report longer-term effects, including a feeling of mental clarity, patience, and an ease of acceptance for days after ingestion.
One of the best properties of kava is that it relaxes and eases stress and anxiety but does not make one "loopy", "hazy" or in any way mentally impaired.Kava (Piper methysticum) and Types
- A sense of well-being
- Increase in alertness
- Pain relief
- Muscle Relaxation
- Relief from Insomnia
- Treatment for Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
- Treatment of Elevated Anxiety Disorder
- Treatment for Depression
- Treatment for Social Phobia and Specific Phobias
- Increase in Sleep Quality
- Perimenopausal symptoms
- Reduction of Colon Cancer risk
Kava has been demonstrated to be a very effective treatment for anxiety; equal to Buspirone and Opipramol and more effective than valerian or St. John's Wort, without the side effects associated with benzodiazepines such as tolerance and negative cognitive effects and sedation.
How does Kava Work?
See this thread for a general overview of how kava works and gives us the feeling we all love!
Is it addictive?
No. Kava is absolutely not addictive in any way and has been shown to have absolutely no withdrawal. In fact, Kava has what is known as a "reverse tolerance" where the amount needed at first to have an effect will be greater than the amount needed say, a month in the future. Some people report that they find little effect from kava their first few times using it and the best way to "break through" the reverse tolerance is to take kava daily until you start to feel an effect.
Is it safe?
Yes. Kava, as defined by the Kava Act of 2002 (an aqueous extract of the root) has been used for centuries safely and modern scientific literature is growing in support for its safety. However, it is important to know that 90% of the products one would find at the health food store, vitamin store or online have the potential for adverse effects. These products are usually extracted with strong nonpolar solvents that extract far more compounds than water, some of which may be toxic. Also, many of these companies have been found to use leaves and stems from harvested crops that have been discarded as waste in order to save cost. Above-ground parts of the plant have been shown to have compounds not found in the root that may cause adverse effects.
Will it impair my functioning?
Due to kava's unique pharmacological profile, it does not impair mental functioning despite its relaxing properties. A study was conducted to establish the safety of kava (compared to a benzodiazepine and placebo) in operating a motor vehicle. The study found that "A medicinal dose of kava containing 180 mg of kavalactones does not impair driving ability, whereas 30 mg of oxazepam shows some impairment." However, if you have to question your ability to operate a motor vehicle or heavy machinery after drinking kava we always suggest you err on the side of caution and refrain from doing such. The safety of kava consumers is paramount. Be alert. If you're not, let someone else be and stay in the passengers seat.
Kava: Piper Methysticum, our bread and butter. A cultivated variety of the Piper Wichmannii (the wild form of Kava) Plant grown in the southern pacific region. Best evidence has shown that the plant's current strain was initially cultivated in Vanuatu, and spread among Polynesia. Piper Wichmannii was genetically refined by thousands of years of careful attribute isolation through propagation by farmers only selecting the most desirable plants for their physiological effects and taste. This careful selection is what gives us traditional kava in the form of Piper Methysticum. Ideally only the roots of this plant should be consumed, but centuries past have shown the infusion of kava and water to use rootstock and the corm (or the very bulbous "trunk" which comes directly out of the ground) as well.
Varieties of Kava
Exportable Kava Types from Vanuatu are generally restricted to "Noble" varieties. As outlined in the Kava Act of 2002 you may find those types listed in the link below.
In regards to kava grown outside of Vanuatu, please refer to the Codex Alimentarius Commission E (Discussion Paper On The Development of a Standard for Kava Products below.)
It is easier to define kavas in groups such as Noble, and Non-Noble varieties. Noble varieties are kavas which are high in Kavain, and low in the double bonded kavalactones such as DHM or DHK. Non-noble varieties are kavas which are more saturated in heavier, double bonded kavalactones which tend to produce effects which can last several days. These kavas are referred to as "Tudei", or Two Day as it is often known in Vanuatu, or Isa which is more characteristic of non-noble trains originating from the Hawaiian islands. Lastly the non cultivated, wild type of kava known as Piper Wichmannii is occasionally consumed, but not allowed for export.
Kava Act of 2002How should I store kava?
Codex Alimentarius Commission E (on kava safety)
Kava varieties are often described in terms of their chemotypes, which give you an idea of how many kavalactones they contain. For more details, see the Chemotypes page.
Kava root should be stored in a dry, dark location. Prepared kava will take on an unpleasant (well, even more unpleasant) taste if left out for hours. Refrigeration will help it keep for a few days. It can be frozen and stored indefinitely.
What is Kava Dermopathy?
(Frozen Kava Ice Cubes)
Kava dermopathy is a reversible skin condition that occurs in some kava drinkers after prolonged use. It results in dry, scaly skin and may itch or hurt. Some users have found straining most or all of the sediment out of the prepared kava to be helpful in preventing it. The dermopathy may actually continue to spread after use is discontinued, but should begin to recede and disappear within 2-3 weeks (most recover sooner).
Some users have found Alpha Hydroxy Acid therapeutic lotions (specifically AmLactin) to be the most aggressive treatment and seems to improve the condition the quickest. These lotions can cause irritation and discomfort if the skin is broken. However, for mild symptoms and/or when dermopathy first appears, it seems to be the most effective treatment. Moisturizing lotions have also been found to help in treating the symptoms of dermopathy (pain, dryness, etc). For more information on treatments, see link above.