What Is Kava Kava Tea?
Kava Kava Tea is a bit of a misnomer because it does not really refer to a tea in the traditional sense. It’s not your Typhoo or your PG Tips, for example. It is a drink made from the roots of the Piper Methysticum plant (Intoxicating Pepper) that has been used traditionally for perhaps thousands of years by indigenous cultures of the Pacific Islands as a cure-all for anything from anxiety and depression to tooth ache, gout, urinary disease and insomnia.
Aside from the external medicinal properties of Kava Kava Tea as an antiseptic or diuretic agent, the plant is better known in Western Culture for its effect on the nervous system, particularly its relaxation and calming properties as well as its mild euphoric, narcotic and anaesthetic qualities.
Kava Kava Tea Benefits and Health
Perhaps amongst the best and well-known of kava kava tea’s benefits are that it can impart a state of tranquility and relaxation. The pleasant state of calmness associated with the drink also allows more enhanced sociability, and it is for these main reasons that kava kava tea has proven to be of such importance to those with anxiety or depression. For those with social anxiety or who experience excessive stress on a daily basis it can prove to be a life-changer, and without the negative side effects of modern medicine equivalents such as valium, benzos and other nasties.
Other health benefits of kava kava tea can include aiding sleep. Many users find that kava can help them to get over insomnia problems, as the relaxing and soporific effects of certain cultivars of so-called “body” kavas are well known.
The anaesthetic qualities of kava can also help reduce pain, especially in chronic conditions such as back pain where other modern medicines may have failed. It may be because of the holistic nature of relaxing the whole body and all muscle groups that these effects have been reported so widely.
Other benefits, as are attested to by indigenous users, are that kava can replace more harmful recreational drugs or beverages traditionally used in the West as relaxation aids such as alcohol or pharmaceutical anxiolytics. There appear to be very few, if any, side effects reported for long term kava use, outside of some minor dermatological effects and outdated, refuted and poorly managed studies on the effects of kava on the liver – more about that common myth in another post.
Kava Kava Tea Effects
Depending on the strain of Kava plant used (also known as the cultivar or species), the effects of kava tea can vary. The active ingredients that appear to control most of the plant’s psychoactive effects are known as kavalactones. These active phytochemicals can vary in volume from one cultivar to the next and each can affect the drinker in various ways. Some kavalactones have an anxiolytic effect, others have analgesic effects, sedative effects or euphoric effects.
The way in which each kavalactone (its relative volume within the compound) and the users’ own body chemistry interact are complex, but suffice to say, there are many combinations that drinkers of kava tea start to relate to or can find their own special blend of, which best fulfil their own needs or circumstances. Kava Kava tea is not a “one size fits all” psychoactive plant drink, but often the general feelings of well-being, tranquility and lack of stress are similar but with subtleties being found by each individual according to their experimentation.
Kava Kava Tea High or Euphoria
Although I get asked often about getting high on Kava Kava Tea, it’s not really a high in the traditional sense of the word. There is no loss of control, drunkenness or feelings of ill effects, unless you over-indulge to a ridiculously high degree – and even in this case you might just feel a bit of mild nausea. The kava high is very much natural, green, tranquil and euphoric in a way that is difficult to describe.
I say green, because to me the drink very much makes me feel one with nature. It makes me feel like a real, living, integral part of the natural world. This sense of connectedness is all too often lost in our modern, busy worlds.
There can, at higher doses, be effects that might be likened to being a bit drunk on alcohol, some visual effects, for example, or being more gregarious or finding things funny. The feeling of calm, well-being, warm, cosy and a little fuzzy are probably the best kind of words to describe the feelings of a kava kava tea high as I feel it.
Everybody’s experiences differ, of course, but once you’ve learnt how to prepare kava correctly, how to make kava kava taste better (if the natural earthy, peppery root flavour is not your cup of “herbal” tea), and as long as you’ve gotten over kava reverse tolerance (if that affects you), you’ll see why this herbal drink and remedy has long been revered in its traditional setting and why it is currently receiving such attention in the busy, modern Western world.