Kava is a powerful and unusual herbal supplement. Found and curated on the western Pacific Islands, this native plant exists as a staple for facilitating conversation and calming anxiety. Kava’s use continues to be undervalued and unknown to the common Western folk. Learn how to utilize this impressive little plant for optimal rest, relaxation, and inner peace below!

Kava leaves

What is Kava?

 Kava is the cultivated root of the Piper Methysticum plant. Found on the Pacific Islands, it has a hand in many cultures like Polynesia, Vanuatu, Melanesia, and Micronesia, among others, as being a sedative to aid in soothing the soul. The active ingredient in Kava, Kavalactones, has slight mood-altering effects and works as a sedative and euphoriant. Those who partake in Kava enter a light and happy mood once ingested. Kava can be taken to simply take the edge off, and in fact, in Fiji, it is used as a way to make conversation flow easier, but there are other helpful powers hidden within this root. Kava can treat anxiety, insomnia, and stress in safe dosages.

Preparation of Kava varies between cultures. A grog of Kava and water then followed by a sweet or spicy chaser is prepared in Fiji. This ceremony welcomes all to partake and allows for ample storytelling and free conversation. Many other island cultures follow the similar preparation of grinding the Kava root and mixing it with cold water. This is the safest and most traditional method. 

Indigenous Fijian men participate in the traditional Kava Ceremony. The consumption of the drink is a form of welcome and figures in important socio-political events.

Kava and Anxiety

The world is stressful, especially during the days of COVID and the tumultuous political landscapes that vary throughout every different nation. As anxiety is rampant in our daily lives; Kava is one way to safely treat it. While I cannot safely recommend Kava for actual anxiety disorders like Generalized Anxiety Disorder, it can aid in day-to-day anxiety produced by certain situations or minor stressors. The Kavalactones in Kava allow for gentle sedation that soothes nerves and relaxes the brain. 

You may take either water-based Kava drinks or supplements to treat basic anxiety. The safest amount to take would be about 200 mg of Kavalactones daily. Taking Kava for up to five weeks daily should improve results, but be careful not to overdo these supplements. Furthermore, Kava, when mixed with other herbs, can also fend off sleep disorders. The Lucid Dreaming Tea is an amazing example of this fact.

A Fijan preparing a Kava grog

Kava: Safety and Respect

Like many supplements, Kava has a variety of side effects that should be taken into account. Never drive or operate heavy machinery after partaking in Kava, as the drowsiness this lovely plant brings can be detrimental to focusing on such important tasks. Keep an eye on your liver health while taking Kava. Ensure that the supplements or tea you are using come from reputable sources to avoid liver damage. 

Remember Kava is a traditional and ceremonial part of many Pacific Islanders’ cultures. You must also be respectful of this sacred plant and practice when in spaces where Kava is prevalent. Honor those who honor Kava for granting ease of conversation, facilitating sacred stories, and for calming the minds of those plagued with worries and stress. Kava offers a chance to unwind, so when given the chance, be sure to allow Kava to do just that. Herbalism is the lifeblood of medicine and knowledge, and with this in mind, you must honor these practices to ensure you are honoring yourself.

Frankie Kavakich

FrankieKavakich

Frankie Kavakich is a published prose and poetry writer and a practicing witch whose love for the occult and horror permeates their everyday life. For eight years, they have studied a variety of practices including kitchen witchery, chaos magick, divination, manifestation, and brujería. Within their writing, Frankie features numerous topics ranging from ghosts and spirits to the importance of community and reliance on nature's bounty. Their great grandmother Nilda was a healer from the rain forests of Puerto Rico, and Frankie is endlessly inspired by the gentle hands and kind hearts of their ancestors.

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