Author Archives: Makaira

Fijian Kava

Fijian KavaFor centuries people have grown, harvested, and brewed kava for relaxation and social occasions on the Fijian islands, as elsewhere in the South Pacific. Today, you can order Fijian kava from most kava distributors, whether online or at a kava bar or store. The main island of Viti Levu is the center of Fijian kava production, although Fijians on every island consume kava. Bundles of dried kava root are a popular tourist item in Fijian marketplaces, so much so that one warehouse in Suvu is locally renowned for having an entire floor devoted to selling dried kava root.

Kava is called yaquona (pronounced “yangona”) in Fiji, and the cold brew made from the root is often referred to as grog. Fijians (usually groups of young men) will make grog by pounding sun-dried kava root into a powder that they strain through cloth into cold water in a communal brew bowl called a tanoa, carved of wood and supported on a tripod of legs. The resulting kava “grog” is drunk from a halved coconut shell called a bilo and usually followed by a chaser, a sweet or spicy snack between bowls of kava brew. Traditionally in Fiji, fresh kava root was first softened by being chewed by the young girls of a village; then the gritty material would be strained into water through the bark of the vau tree, although today cloth is used and the root is pounded instead of chewed.

Both in centuries past and today, drinking kava has been a very social activity among Fijians: at the end of the day, groups of Fijians love to gather around the tanoa, socialize, and tell stories between bowls of kava. Kava is a symbol of community in Fiji, and bundles of dried kava root tied with colorful strings are commonly presented as gifts at formal social occasions such as official welcomings, funerals, and reconciliation ceremonies. Visitors to a new village will also bring along a bundle of tied kava root (or sometimes kava in another form) as a gift.

In Fiji, kava ceremonies can be highly formal or more relaxed affairs depending on the context. Much like coffee in the West, many Fijians sip kava throughout the day to promote mental clarity and calm. In an informal Fijian kava ceremony, it usually doesn’t matter who drinks first; however, some people designate the oldest male of their group as a stand-in chief, as chiefs drank first in traditional Fiji kava ceremonies. For a more formal Fijian kava ceremony, the brewing is performed in front of a guest of honor, who sits behind a coconut rope and cowrie shell barrier called a tui-ni-buli. In times past, other participants were forbidden from crossing this barrier (under pain of death!) while the kava was being brewed. A master of ceremonies representing the guest of honor would supervise the brewing process and declare when water could be added to the root, and when the brew was satisfactorily mixed.

The cupbearer would place the first bilo of Fijian kava brew before the guest of honor, who was supposed to drain it in a single swallow, followed by the exclamation “Maatha”, or “It is drained”. At this point, participants in the ceremony would clap hands, and the main event of drinking the kava brew would begin. After the guest of honor’s first bowl, the master of ceremonies would partake of the brew, followed by the ceremony’s other participants in order of their rank. Today of course, most kava ceremonies are more informal and generally open to visitors. When attending a Fijian kava ceremony, it’s generally recommended that Western visitors dress conservatively and drink when invited to partake.

Grog sessions in Fiji usually last several hours, time enough for participants to have several bowls of quality Fijian kava. According to many anecdotal reports, Fijian kava is supposed to be especially good for its calming and sleep-promoting effects; a couple bowls can be enough to beat even persistent insomnia. Because Fiji kava is so good at calming the emotions while leaving thoughts clear, kava is a popular drink at diplomatic receptions and negotiations held by Fijian officials.

As with any variety of kava, you can tell you’ve got ahold of some good quality Fijian kava when the brew slightly numbs your lips and the interior of your mouth after you drink it: this is a sign that your mucus membranes have already started absorbing the kavalactones in the brew. If you’re game to experience a potent calming variety of kava with a vibrant history of social use, Fijian kava just might be the brew for you!

Kava and Prozac

Kava And ProzacYou’ve probably heard that kava shouldn’t be taken in combination with prescription tranquilizers like Valium, anti-psychotics, or depressants like alcohol. However, that still leaves the question, where does the medical evidence stand when it comes to combining kava and Prozac or other anti-depressants? As many as 30 million Americans have faced depression or anxiety at some point in their lives, and many have taken prescription anti-depressants or anti-anxiety medications to treat these conditions. Prozac is probably the most well known brand of a class of anti-depressants called SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, which act to relieve depression by increasing the brain’s amount of the neurotransmitter serotonin.

In our increasingly medicated society, many people are becoming interested in natural ways to relieve anxiety and depression that don’t involve prescription drugs. For many, kava is becoming the herb of choice for its clinically verified anxiolytic and tranquilizing properties, which have been proven to be as effective as certain classes of prescription tranquilizers but without the raft of side effects. However, many kava products also come with warnings not to consume them if you are taking prescription tranquilizers or anti-depressants such as Prozac. There are two reasons why this precaution has been put in place: the first is that, like any psychoactive oral herb, kava must be metabolized by the liver, so taking it in combination with certain drugs can put an undue load on the liver. The second reason is that kava activates pathways in the brain to produce its relaxing and anxiolytic effects, and there is a chance it could interact harmfully with other drugs that affect the central nervous system. We’ll examine both of these areas of concern in more detail below.

You may have heard scary things about kava’s effect on the liver in connection with a 2001 Swiss-German study that linked use of European kava supplements to liver damage in some 30 cases examined in Switzerland. Subsequent research discovered that many of the subjects in the study were taking kava supplements in combination with prescription tranquilizers such as Valium and other benzodiazepines, and/or heavy alcohol consumption. We know now that kava should not be taken in combination with a drug that already puts a metabolic load on the liver, such as alcohol or benzodiazepines, because it can cause harm to the liver. By the same token, the liver must also process anti-depressant SSRIs like Prozac, as well as an older class of anti-depressants called tricyclics. It is possible that taking kava and Prozac could produce a heavy metabolic demand on the liver, so we recommend you consult a doctor before using kava if you already take Prozac or a related anti-depressant.

Furthermore, kava kava is a psychoactive herb, which means it affects chemical pathways in the brain to generate its calming effects. Studies have shown that kava can amplify the effects of central nervous system depressants like alcohol, which contributes to a reduction in anxiety but also slows breathing and heart rate. Doctors already advise against combining kava with CNS depressants, but it’s less clear if kava interacts with SSRI anti-depressants in a significant way. Prozac and other SSRIs work to elevate mood by increasing the brain’s levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Kava studies suggest that kavalactones do not interact with the brain’s serotonin pathways; in fact, kavain, a common kavalactone, actually seems to slightly decrease the brain’s amount of serotonin in high amounts. Instead, researchers have suggested that kavalactones reduce anxiety by increasing the brain’s levels of dopamine and norepinephrine. However, the older class of tricyclic anti-depressants can act as monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) and have the potential to amplify kava kava’s effects by allowing a greater concentration of kavalactones to pass through the digestive system into the bloodstream.

Kava is not so much an anti-depressant herb (such as St. John’s Wort or kanna) as it is an anxiolytic and tranquilizing herb: kavalactones have been shown to work along the same brain pathway as tranquilizers such as Valium, but without the attendant mental dulling, drowsiness, or potential for habituation. Like synthetic tranquilizers, kava seems to target the amygdala: the region of the brain responsible for regulating fear and anxiety responses, as well as memories with emotional content. While Valium increases the brain’s levels of gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter with anxiolytic properties, kava seems to work by a different pathway. It’s possible that it may interact directly with the voltage-gated ion channels of nerve cells that regulate nerve impulses in order to deliver its anti-convulsant, analgesic, anxiolytic, and muscle relaxant effects.

So far, no one in the medical community is sure what the effects of using kava and Prozac in combination might be. The bottom line is that any herb or medicine that affects your brain will interact with other CNS drugs to some degree. There are already precautions against using kava in combination with CNS depressants or tranquilizers, anti-psychotic medications, and drugs to treat Parkinson’s such as levodopa, but as yet there is very little literature regarding any harmful interactions between kava and Prozac or another SSRI. However, as with any potential drug-herbal combination, we recommend that you refer to a physician for the last word on whether to try kava if you currently use an anti-depressant such as Prozac.

Fresh Kava Root

Fresh Kava RootConsumers today are fortunate to have access to a wide range of convenient kava products, such as drink mixes, root powders, readymade tinctures and even kava pills. Why, then, are we posting an article encouraging you to try out fresh kava root? Though it may be an old-fashioned and labor-intensive way to enjoy kava, using fresh kava root has advantages that make the extra effort worthwhile. By buying the fresh root, you’re more likely to get a potent kava product that may also be tastier than the dried product. It’s much harder to tell if a dried kava root or root powder has been harvested recently; it could be several weeks old when you receive it, which is going to have a negative effect on the product’s potency. With fresh kava root, you’ll know it was harvested from the living plant only a short while ago, resulting in incomparable potency and an experience closer to what people enjoy in the South Pacific.

Buying kava root fresh also renders benefits to small kava farmers: suppliers of fresh kava root usually contract directly with farmers, so you won’t have to worry about most of your money going to middlemen rather than the kava growers themselves. Many kava-farming operations are small family-owned businesses that have been around for generations. Small farms are also the best to buy from if you’re looking for a single kava strain with specific effects: kava powders and drink mixes might use more than one strain of the root; this isn’t always best if you want to use kava for a very specific effect, like treating insomnia or relieving anxiety, as different kava strains tend to have different effects. By buying fresh kava root, you’ll ensure you’re getting a single strain.

Kava taken in any form acts as an anxiolytic and tranquilizer, social lubricant, and euphoric herb. At low doses, kava promotes sociability, eases shyness and may stimulate interesting conversation; greater amounts of kava brew can lead to sedation, introspection, and eventual deep sleep, sometimes accompanied by beautiful dreams. Because of kava’s tranquilizing effects, many people use it to treat anxiety at low doses and insomnia at slightly higher doses. Again, the advantage of working with fresh kava root is that it will likely be of higher potency, and thus have more reliable and pronounced effects, than dried material that is older and has had time to decrease in potency.

Fresh Kava Root

Don’t let this happen to you! Fresh kava root can offer relief for chronic insomnia.

No matter what form of kava you work with, one easy way to determine if you’ve got a potent batch is to see if the brew causes the membranes of your tongue and mouth to become slightly numb: numbing of the mucus membranes is considered a classic sign of the high presence of kavalactones, which may be activated by coming into contact with saliva when you consume kava. Note that this won’t occur with kava capsules because the plant material doesn’t come into contact with the inside of your mouth.

Finally, fresh kava root may just taste better than the dried variety! The younger lateral root of the kava plant is known for its sweet taste compared to the plant’s older taproot. This difference in taste is probably due to a variable concentration of kavalactones in the lateral versus vertical kava root. Furthermore, when kava root is dried it may subtly change the chemical constituents in the finished product, resulting in a sharper, bitterer taste than root that is brewed when fresh. Slowly sun drying the younger lateral root is another way to create a sweeter finished product. Also, some strains of kava, such as Tongan kava and Hawaiian Mahakea kava, are sweeter than others; by buying fresh kava root direct from farms, you can try out single strains and discover which you prefer in terms of both taste and effects.

We’ve included a sample preparation method you can use to whip up a fresh kava root brew to try for yourself: first of all, you’ll want to use fresh, not frozen kava root pulp; about 300 grams of root pulp equal a gallon of prepared kava brew, so measure your proportions of water to root pulp accordingly.

Put your fresh pulp into a nylon or muslin strainer bag, and place the bundle in a large bowl— this will be your kava serving bowl, so make sure it’s big enough to hold the full volume of brew you want to make. Pour your measured amount of cold water over the strainer bag and into the bowl without letting any root material escape. As you squeeze the fresh kava root inside its strainer bag, note that the water in the surrounding bowl should get cloudy: this is a sign you are extracting kavalactones into the brew. There are traditionally approved ways to squeeze kava root in this extraction process: remember that you’re not just making a chemical extraction, but also releasing the spirit or essence of the kava into the brew. Some respectful methods of extraction include braiding the bag into a helix from the top down, mashing and massaging it between your hands, and at the end, doubling the bag over itself to get out those last drops of kava juice.

After your brew is a nice opaque brown or tan, take a smaller bowl (this will be your serving bowl) and stir the brew around. Scoop out a bowlful of liquid and pour it back a few times. This will ensure that the brew stays fresh tasting and will prevent root sediment from settling to the bottom.

There you have it: with a little bit of time and hands-on preparation, you can make a brew at home using fresh kava root that’s every bit as potent and tasty as the brews enjoyed in the South Pacific!

Kona Kava

Kona Kava Like the famous Hawaiian-grown Kona coffee, Kona kava is also becoming popular both in its home state and worldwide due to its smooth taste and reliable, surprisingly potent effects. Small family-owned kava farms such as the eponymous Kona Kava Farm, one of our personal favorite vendors, grow and ship kava from Kona and the surrounding area to meet demand on the Big Island, the United States and worldwide. Today, Kona kava vendors have built up a healthy reputation for having some of the most effective and palatable kava around.

Kona Kava Farm is located on the verdant slopes of the Hualalai Mountains just outside Kona, a fertile region that offers primo volcanic soil and a warm, moist microclimate conducive for growing kava. This prosperous area also has long supported growers of coffee and macadamia nuts, two other valuable Hawaiian crops. Some of the oldest family farms have a history of ownership going back generations; in some cases before the Hawaiian Islands became a United States territory. The micronutrient-rich soil of the Hualalai range is so nutritious that it eliminates the need for fertilizers and pesticides, allowing Kona kava farmers to turn out an organic product at lower cost than in other kava-growing regions.

Kona kava farmers have been providing the world with lovingly grown organic kava for years, often from plants that are decades old, which if you know your kava makes for quite a high concentration of potent kavalactones in their roots! By carefully sun-drying the lateral roots (known to be the best-tasting and most potent part of the plant), small-batch Kona kava farms have also managed to create an unexpectedly palatable version of kava: root extracts and powders from kava plants grown on Kona farmland often taste earthy and slightly sweet in our experience, with no bitterness at all. We like it fine just mixed into a little water, or milk if you prefer a richer flavor.

So, how does the kava Kona farmland turns out differ from kava grown elsewhere? Kava is thought to have originated somewhere in the Pacific Islands— possibly Vanuatu, which is often cited as the island that has the greatest diversity of kava, and also produces some of the most potent kava available. However, Hawaiian strains such as Kona kava tend to be sweeter due to the unique ratio of kavalactones found in Hawaiian varieties. Furthermore, many kavasseurs we’ve spoken to attest they find Kona kava just as potent as Vanuatu kava, as well as being a lot more palatable.

If you’ve ever been to a kava bar in the United States, or ordered from a U.S.-based vendor, chances are you’ve already had some experience with the kava kava Hawaii grows— and for some users, there’s no need to try kava from any father afield! Users often decide they prefer Hawaiian “awa” to other strains of kava because it combines a milder flavor with stronger effects than some South Pacific kava strains. While potent, Vanuatu kava can often be strongly bitter, definitely not an easy brew to swallow for a kava first-timer. Furthermore, some strains of kava may taste milder but have diminished effects: for instance, studies on Fijian kava suggest that this strain produces roots with a lower concentration of kavain and dihydrokavain, two kavalactones that play a central role in generating kava’s powerful anxiolytic action.

In contrast, with organic Kona kava, you’ll get the best of both worlds: a high-potency and palatable (even tasty!) strain of kava shipped right to you from the lush mountains of the 50th state! Whether you prefer the whole dried root, a convenient drink mix or tincture form, or even if you want to try out the ultra-potent luxury grade “waka” kava, Kona kava vendors can provide!

Muscle Tension

Muscle TensionOften cited as a symptom of chronic stress in our go go go society, muscle tension occurs when a person experiences persistent tightness, and sometimes pain, in one or several muscles or muscle groups. Muscle tension can be anything from a minor nuisance to a debilitating condition that makes it almost impossible to go about your daily activities. Some people experience severe muscle tension to the point where they may have to spend days in bed. Several factors often combine to induce muscle tension, including chronic inactivity, mental stress and anxiety, and sometimes neuromuscular disorders. Luckily, there are also multiple methods to relieve muscle tension stress: taking a relaxing herbal supplement like kava is just one way to free yourself from persistent muscle tension, along with exercise and mental techniques you can use to destress your life.

Muscle tension is a physical phenomenon that quite often has psychological roots, although medical conditions such as polio and musculoskeletal disorder may also cause muscle tension. Furthermore, women sometimes experience tight or painful muscles as they undergo the hormonal changes associated with menopause, especially if they’re experiencing stress as a result of these changes. However, by and large the biggest cause of muscle tension for most of us is the everyday stress of modern living. For instance, jobs that require people to perform the same repetitive motions, such as working as a mail carrier, janitor, store clerk or waiting tables (to name only a few high-activity jobs), can cause their muscles to tense up and make it hard to relax at the end of the day. Those of us who work at a desk often don’t fare any better: sitting in front of a computer all day can make you hunch over and cause tension in the muscles of the back, neck, and shoulders as well as tension headaches. Emotional stress from pressures at work or difficulties in your home life can also cause you to carry an undue load of tension in your muscles.

For the unfortunately large number of people who suffer from anxiety disorders of one kind or another, muscle tension can also be a somatic symptom of mental distress. Our psychological state has an amazing amount of influence over our bodies: when your brain is experiencing a prolonged or heightened anxiety response, it frequently spills over into physical reactions including muscle tension and weakness, tremors, heart palpitations and even rashes. The good news is that there are as many ways to relieve muscle tension as there are causes: physical exercise and massage, meditation techniques, and relaxing herbal remedies including kava can all help to mitigate muscular tension and pain.

Physical exercise may seem like an obvious remedy; after all, it stretches out your muscles and improves flexibility if done regularly. Yoga is especially effective for muscle tension because it focuses not only on stretching the muscles, but also trains practitioners to breathe effectively and focus their minds on the present pose. Effective breathing and meditation (with or without yogic exercises) are both proven techniques for reducing stress and improving your alertness and energy levels. Other than getting enough sleep every night, there are few things more effective in reducing your levels of stress and tension than regular exercise. Consistent meditation is also a great way to relieve tense muscles, as psychology suggests that muscle tension is often a manifestation of inner mental stress, and taking a few minutes a day to focus your mind can help you feel less tense and harried.

Of course, people who work full-time often feel like they have no time to engage in tension-reducing exercise. Our answer is that there are a multitude of small but equally beneficial exercises you can do at your desk to relieve muscle stress and reenergize your body. Try taking an hourly break to stretch the muscles of your shoulders, neck and back by sitting up straighter and lifting your arms above your head with fingers interlocked. If you don’t want to be so conspicuous, you can try smaller exercises such as breathing in deeply from your belly: this will massage your ribs and reoxygenate your whole body. Slightly parting your lips is another small exercise with big effects: when you part your lips it relaxes your jaw, tongue, and neck and prevents you from unconsciously grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw.

Finally, herbal relaxants like passionflower, chamomile and of course, kava, can help you recoup after a long day or act as daytime remedies for muscle stress and tension. Studies have shown that kava, taken either in a brew, capsules or tincture, has a direct effect in alleviating muscle tension. Kava root contains compounds called aryethylene pyrones with muscle relaxant properties similar to benzodiazepines such as Valium. Even better, kava root comes without the side effects of impaired thought and slowed reaction time which people often exhibit with tranquilizers. Clinical studies have shown that people suffering from anxiety perform better on tests that require memory and concentration after taking kava as compared to a benzodiazepine. However, we still recommend you don’t drive or operate machinery after using kava, as it can impair reaction times for these activities.

Though the average bowl of kava contains enough kavalactones to moderately sedate you, there are also less concentrated kava capsules or tinctures you can use during the day to take advantage of kava’s anxiolytic effects. The modest dose of kavalactones in a kava capsule can banish anxiety and offer relief from stress while not interfering with your alertness or ability to be productive, making kava capsules a perfect workday herb.

Everyone has stress to some degree, and we all manifest it in tense muscles and tired bodies on occasion. Part of the reason our muscles may get tense when we’re stressed is to make our brains aware of this inner state; once you become aware of the tension you’re carrying in your body and mind, you can take steps to reduce it. The important thing to remember is that ultimately, there are many ways you can decrease your levels of stress and muscle tension: exercise, meditate, breathe deep and take a sip of kava to watch your tension melt away… it’s all up to you!

Where to Buy Kava Tea

Where to Buy Kava TeaAs kava has become a commodity on the global market, a proliferation of stores both online and physical have popped up offering kava in forms ranging from the whole root to kava paste to readymade packets of kava tea. However, just like with any kava product, figuring out where to buy kava tea to get the most bang for your buck isn’t always a clear cut exercise. We decided to examine some of the basics of purchasing and preparing kava tea, to give anyone who’s interesting in finding where to buy kava tea the tools to find a high quality, enjoyable, and potent product.

Of course, the obvious first step in ascertaining where to buy kava tea is finding a vendor that carries it. Due to kava’s growing popularity as a relaxing and socially stimulating beverage, many different health food companies and stores are beginning to sell kava tea as part of their lineup of herbal teas. Unfortunately, as with any market with multiple suppliers, not all kava tea brands are created equal. When you’re looking for where to get kava tea, it’s better to avoid the herbal sections of big box stores and health food stores: the quality of their kava will likely not be as high quality as a product purchased from a vendor who specializes in kava. To make the best kava tea, you’ll want to obtain kava root that is fresh and harvested from the lateral roots of plants that are least four years old, as older plants produce a higher amount of kavalactones. In general, vendors who specialize in kava will provide you with a better quality product that meets the standards above; they have to, because their business depends on selling customers kava that is potent and satisfying.

A quality source is essential when you’re looking for a good place to buy kava tea, not just to ensure yourself a satisfying experience but also for safety reasons. In the past, unscrupulous vendors looking to cash in on the kava craze sold a few people kava that contained stems, leaves and bark peelings— parts of the plant containing toxic alkaloids that landed several people in the hospital with liver damage. You definitely don’t want to be buying tea bags that contain stems or leaves! Whether you purchase kava tea in a bag or buy the ground root in bulk, you should always make sure to buy only from vendors who specifically state that they use only the kava plant’s lateral roots in their preparations. If you’re not sure about a vendor, you can also consult an independent review website to see what other customers have said about their products.

The second half of enjoying really good kava tea lies in how you prepare it. Properly prepared, kava tea can deliver all the same benefits as a cold kava infusion, including improved mood, reduced anxiety and stress, calming effects, and restful sleep. Plus you get the added comfort of relaxing with a warm beverage which you can easily flavor with honey, cinnamon, and other warming ingredients if you so desire. When it comes to making a potent and delicious tea, many people also prefer the ground root to a prepared tea bag because it’s easier to determine the freshness of the root before steeping. Furthermore, you may get better results by making a tea from the ground root because the loose material can move more freely in water, allowing for the maximum leaching of active kavalactones.

Any kava tea of good quality should have the same soothing properties as a regular cold kava infusion, and should be treated with the same respect for its potency. Make sure not to drive or do anything requiring reflexes after drinking kava tea, especially when you’re trying it for the first time. Both the cold brew and the hot tea will generally contain a similar percentage of kavalactones and should be similarly potent; in fact, the traditional cold kava infusion could even be considered a type of kava ice tea! The main advantage of hot kava tea over a cold brew is its convenience: the hot tea takes maybe a half hour to 45 minutes to steep, compared to several hours for a cold extraction.

For the curious, here’s a sample kava kava tea recipe you can use to make kava tea from scratch ingredients: using a ratio of 1 teaspoon ground kava root to 1 cup milk or water, heat the liquid until it’s hot but not boiling. (To preserve the root’s active compounds, most recipes recommend you not heat it above 140 degrees Fahrenheit, with 120 degrees considered an ideal temperature.) Pour the hot liquid over the loose ground kava root and steep the mixture for about 45 minutes, then strain the liquid into a different mug, using a coffee filter to catch the kava dregs. Drink up and enjoy the kava tea’s relaxing, anxiolytic and sleep-promoting properties. Perhaps you and some friends could get together for a kava tea party of an evening!

84 Kavalactone Paste

84 Kavalactone PasteWhere does the 84 in 84 kavalactone paste come from, you ask? Simple: the 84 tells you you’re getting one of the most potent and highly concentrated kavalactone pastes available, one that is approximately 84% active kavalactones by weight. 84 kavalactone paste is a highly versatile and stable way to enjoy kava which can be eaten on its own or combined with a cold kava brew or tea to savor its enhanced effects. The best 84 kavalactone paste is made using a supercritical CO2 extraction method that leaves behind no acetone or other poisonous residues, only a golden kava paste with effects of unusual duration and potency.

84 kavalactone paste is a premium product that requires a lot of intensive factory processing and a large amount of raw starting material to produce: on average, 100 kilograms of finished 84 kavalactone paste takes more than a ton of raw kava root to produce! Due to the need for specialized equipment and a large amount of starting material in its preparation, an ounce of 84 kavalactone paste will definitely cost you more than the same amount of whole or powdered root. However, what you get for the higher price is a concentrated preparation of kava that is like no other in terms of potency, ease of use, and versatility. Furthermore, because it’s so concentrated, a one-ounce supply of 84 kavalactone paste will last you a lot longer than a much larger amount of dried powder or whole root: one pea-sized serving of 84 kavalactone paste on its own is enough to generate mild psychoactivity, including calming and mood-elevating effects. If one dollop doesn’t work for you, you can try two or three— just be sure not to exceed the FDA’s approved limit of five pea-sized servings in 24 hours.

A concentrated paste basically has a higher amount of the kava root’s active compounds, so you can expect the general effects of 84 kavalactone paste to align with those gained from a kava tea or brew: users of the 84 kavalactone paste report feeling a sense of calm and well-being pervade them, along with a notable physical relaxation that makes this concentrated kava paste a great stress reliever. Some people who’ve tried kavalactone paste also assert that it causes more pronounced physical relaxation for them compared to a brew or other infusion. A concentrated 84 kavalactone paste or kava brew will each be stronger in their effects than kava capsules, which usually have only 60 to 150 milligrams of kavalactones and are mostly used as a sleep aid.

You can try out 84 kavalactone paste in a variety of ways, the easiest being to simply eat a pea-sized dollop of the paste on its own. However, if you decide you don’t care for the taste (which can be strong), you can also choose to encapsulate the kavalactone paste using a capsule machine, or dissolve the concentrated paste in water or milk and add ingredients like honey or chocolate to improve the flavor. For the adventurous or seasoned “kavasseur”, a touch of 84 kavalactone paste may be used to spike a kava beverage made from the powdered root or a drink mix, in order to enhance the drink’s relaxing and euphoric effects. Adding a dollop of kavalactone paste to any kava drink will shorten the time between ingestion and the onset of the drink’s effects, as well as deepen sensations of mellowness and physical relaxation. Some people also take 84 kavalactone paste as a kind of booster dose, eating a dollop or so of the concentrated paste a few hours after drinking a kava brew in order to prolong its psychoactive effects.

Used in moderation, we believe that 84 kavalactone paste can be a safe and versatile way to enjoy kava either for the first time or as a returning kavasseur. Just remember never to combine kava in any form with alcohol or other drugs that have a depressant effect on the central nervous system, in order to prevent harmful interactions. Like any good kava preparation, 84 kavalactone paste has the power to relax you in social situations, promote calm, and may even induce mild euphoria, all without hampering your speech or thoughts. So give this beautiful golden paste a try; we bet you’ll be happy with the results.

Tension Relief

Tension ReliefThe demands of our Western productivity-driven culture tend to generate a lamentably high level of tension in many people due to stressors such as financial obligations, inadequate sleep, hectic schedules, and unfulfilling work. Challenges such as health problems, family or marital issues, and difficult life transitions can pile on top of those everyday stressors, making the need for a safe and effective method of tension relief absolutely essential. Along with regular exercise and a diet that emphasizes a healthy balance of vitamins and minerals, kava kava and other herbal remedies can be highly efficacious for tension relief without heavily sedating you or interfering with your alertness the next day.

Regrettably often in the Western world, people looking to relieve tension and stress in their everyday lives turn to commercially available yet powerful drugs that come with a long list of side effects and the potential to become addictive over time. The most common drug people turn to for tension relief is alcohol: in the short term, alcohol is a reliable sedative with some evidence now emerging that it temporarily reduces anxiety by altering brain chemistry. The considerable downside to using alcohol to relieve tension and anxiety is that regular doses of alcohol cause the body to build up a resistance to its effects, requiring a person to drink more to feel the same sense of relief. This is a dangerously habit-forming proposition. Besides being potentially addictive, overuse of alcohol carries with it a high risk of causing liver, organ and nerve damage.

Prescription drugs for insomnia and tension relief aren’t much better. Despite many people’s perception of their relative safety, prescription sleep and anxiety drugs often come with surprisingly harsh side effects and medical risks. According to their own promotional literature, many prescription sleep aids can potentially cause side effects including headache, blurred vision, and next day drowsiness, and carry a risk of becoming habit-forming. Additionally, some prescription tension aids put their users at risk of seizure, neuromuscular disorders, and even psychosis! Given this laundry list of things that can go wrong when you take a prescription drug for tension relief, what are people who want to lighten the burden of stress in their lives supposed to do?

One answer can be found in the humble roots of the kava plant, a member of the pepper family that has proven itself a safe and effective natural route to tension relief. Since its emergence into the global herbal market in modern times, kava has been gaining a reputation as one of the safest and most effective plants to treat tension and stress relief and promote restful sleep. Kava seems to be active along a pathway in the brain’s amygdala, the region responsible for regulating feelings of stress, anxiety and fear; in fact, studies of kava suggest that the plant’s active constituents work in much the same way as the prescription anti-depressant Prozac! An important difference is that kava won’t dull your natural emotional range and seems to have little to no potential to be habit-forming.

The traditional way to take kava is to make a cold infusion of the root in water or a fatty liquid like coconut milk. However, these days you can also buy powdered kava root from health food stores, either in tea bags— sometimes additionally flavored with vanilla, cinnamon, or other tasty and warming ingredients— or in capsules that contain a standardized percentage of kavalactones. Whatever the method of ingestion, most people will start to feel kava’s effects within a half hour to an hour: most common is a feeling of mellowness and tranquility that pervades the body and mind, leading to a deep and restful sleep after a person goes to bed. Kava also has beneficial effects on emotions: it can uplift mood and greatly reduce any anxiety or worries you might have while leaving your mind and senses relatively clear and alert. One of the things many users like best about kava is that you can really feel it working: when good kava starts to come on, it won’t leave you wondering if what you’re experiencing is just a placebo! However, despite its potency, kava properly prepared from only lateral roots has been clinically shown to be gentle on the liver. Furthermore, kava drinkers don’t seem to build up a resistance to kava over time, which minimizes its potential for addiction.

Tension can be an outward manifestation of the way your body responds to external stimuli, especially stressful and challenging situations; many times, people who carry a high tension load have not been taught how to cope with life’s challenges in a healthy way. Trying out kava for natural tension relief is one of several things ordinary people can do to change the equation of how they respond to stress. Some other healthy ways of coping include regular meditation, physical exercise (especially practices that emphasize mindfulness such as yoga), and maintaining a healthy diet. Reducing consumption of alcohol, refined sugar and caffeine can be one simple way to ensure better sleep at night, while getting enough of vitamins B and C, and minerals like calcium, can ensure healthier brain function especially in times of stress. Although a certain amount of tension and stress is an unavoidable part of life, natural routes to tension relief like kava can help you overcome whatever life throws at you in a safe and effective manner.

Kava Plant for Sale

At some point or other, horticulturalist kavasseurs will often start looking for a kava plant for sale that they can raise on their own. Though a lot of people may not realize it, in addition to prepared kava products and dried roots, many kava vendors offer live kava plants for sale to customers. Interested gardeners can also buy root cuttings from a mature plant which they can use to grow their own kava seedling. Humans have grown and propagated kava for centuries using mostly the root stock; the flowering parts of the plant produce no kava seeds and are considered sterile. Although it takes root-grown kava about three to five years to mature enough so its roots can be harvested, many kavasseurs feel the end product is worth the trouble of growing and harvesting kava yourself. After all, kava root is never fresher than when it’s just been harvested from a living plant.

Let’s say you’ve found a kava plant for sale and had it shipped to your home. Now what? Like many tropical plants, kava grows best when it gets lots of sun, lots of water, and a decent amount of humidity. An ideal temperature range for kava is between 68 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit: if you live in a subtropical region or state, such as Florida, South Texas or Hawaii, you can grow kava outside virtually year-round. You can also grow kava outside in more northern climes, but only during the summer; as a rough guide, take your kava plant inside or move it to a greenhouse when the temperature drops to 55 degrees Fahrenheit or below for three consecutive nights.

To simulate the moist conditions of its native tropical habitat, you should water your kava plant regularly. Kava growers recommend you pot your plant in loose soil—a ratio of about 50% soil and 50% perlite is best— to facilitate water drainage and prevent root rot from over-watering (or from heavy rain if you’ve planted it outside). Since kava plants like moderate humidity, be sure to mist your kava’s leaves with a spray bottle if you’re keeping the plant in a non-humid environment such as indoors. Be sure not to leave your kava plant near an air-conditioning vent, as the circulating air will dry out the plant and make it harder for it to thrive and grow. Finally, although kava plants like sun, they grow best in partial shade: keeping your plant near a window indoors may provide the best light conditions for its optimal growth.

Kava also rapidly depletes nutrients in its soil and thus requires a rich fertilizer. Luckily, beyond that kava isn’t too picky about its fertilizers: although you can use a natural humus or animal fertilizer for the all-natural route, kava plants will grow equally well when fed with a commercial NPK (Nitrogen-Phosphorus-Potassium) fertilizer such as Miracle Gro, ideally with an elements ratio of 14-14-14. Just be sure to go with the manufacturer’s lowest recommended dose when your plant is young, to avoid burning its roots; as the kava plant matures, you can increase its dose of fertilizer. Finally, don’t forget to take acidity into account: kava plants thrive in slightly acidic soil with a pH of between 5.5 to 6.5, which mimics conditions present in jungle soil. Most commercial fertilizers tend to work well both for creating this level of acidity and keeping your kava plant well-nourished. Replenish your plant’s fertilizer about once a month.

Though kava kava makes a nice ornamental plant due to its lush growth and heart-shaped leaves, you probably want to buy kava plant cuttings or rootstock mainly to harvest the roots to make a brew. So how do you know when your kava plant is mature enough to be used? Most guidelines for kava maturity recommend waiting at least three years for your kava plant to mature before harvesting its roots, to avoid killing the plant. Also, as kava plants age the percentage of active kavalactones in their roots increases, so you may want to wait even longer than the minimum to increase the potency of your harvest. The best commercial operations wait until their kava plants are four to five years old before harvesting the kava for sale. As your kava plant matures, it will also get big, which is why you’ll want to repot it several times to give it room to grow and allow its rootstock to expand. Remember, the more roots your kava plant puts out, the more you’ll be able to harvest and brew from it. Kava plants can also grow very tall (up to 15 feet) in the jungle. Unless you want it to take over your living room or greenhouse, we recommend you prune your kava plant periodically to keep it at a manageable size. Pruning won’t affect your plant’s root growth; just make sure to leave your plant with plenty of foliage for photosynthesis.

All right, so you’ve faithfully watered, fertilized, repotted and pruned your kava plant to a healthy maturity. How do you go about harvesting the fruits —or rather roots— of your labors? The good news is that harvesting kava root may be the easiest part of the entire process. Gently pull the mature plant from the soil and wash the dirt off the lower part of the root stock. You can cut off the lateral roots (roots that run along the soil’s surface) and some of the rhizome (underground part of the root) as well, as long as you some root left so your plant can continue to grow. The lateral roots are the most potent part of the kava plant, and they take about three years to regrow. Once you’ve replanted your kava, cut the harvested roots into small pieces and dry or freeze them unless you plan to use them immediately. The result will be an inordinately fresh supply of kava root that you can make into a delectable brew or tea whenever you wish.

Buy Kava Root

Buy Kava RootAs I have discussed elsewhere on the site, figuring out the best place to buy kava root or other kava products can be incredibly confusing.  After all, you can purchase kava in a wide variety of forms, from capsules to instant drink mixes to dried root. You can buy kava root from all over the South Pacific islands, from Fiji to Hawaii to Vanuatu. You can buy all different strains of kava, old and traditional strains, and new hybrids that are supposedly more potent but that also be low quality and carry health risks. Since there are so many types of kava available to purchase online and in stores, it follows that the quality of these kava products can vary widely.  Hawaiian kava root from one vendor can be extremely high quality, organic and fresh, while kava from another vendor may be low in potency, treated with dangerous chemicals, and several years old by the time it makes it to you.  With all of these things to consider, the consumer looking to buy kava kava root online might feel confused and bewildered, unsure about what kava is the best and safest.

Fortunately, if you arm yourself with a little bit of knowledge, it will become much easier to determine if the kava root you are looking at is of high quality.  Many people want to buy pure kava root because it is the most traditional form of kava that is available over the internet. Of course, traditionally, kava root is prepared when it is fresh. In many island communities, kava is prepared daily as a ritual, and the root is prepared on the same day as it is harvested.  However, at the same time, the age of the kava root makes a big difference in potency. Roots are not mature or ready to consume until around five or more years of growth under the ground.  As time goes on, the concentration of kavalactones in the root increases, and the root grows in size and weight as well.  Most kava growers will have a few very special kava plants that are at least ten years old, if not older, which they are saving for a very special occasion, such as a wedding!

Traditionally, fresh kava root was prepared by masticating the root until it turned in to a soft pulp. The combination of certain enzymes in saliva and root matter allowed the alkaloids in the kava to leach out in to water to make a tea. Although missionaries who first came to the South Pacific islands were disgusted by this tradition, native peoples continued to chew kava because it was believed that it created a more potent drink, a belief that has actually been supported by scientific research in more recent years!

Now, for the average kava lover interested in buying kava root online, it is almost impossible to find fresh kava root available.  Unless you live on a Pacific Island and can travel to a kava farm or start your own kava garden, chances are you will be relying on dried kava root. The downside to this is that the potency is bound to be slightly less than with fresh kava root, but the upside is that you won’t have to worry about the jaw-breaking task of chewing fresh root every day, because most dried kava root comes pre-processed! Generally, when you buy kava root you want to look for kava that is of a noble strain (a strain which has been cultivated traditionally for thousands of years such as Mahakea kava or Palisi kava).  Newer hybrid strains may be more potent, but they also have not been researched or backed up by thousands of years of safe use, and it is entirely possible that they contain combinations of kavalactones that may be toxic, so it’s important to be cautious. You also want to make sure that you get kava kava root that has matured for a number of years – at least two, but three or four is even better! You also want to make sure that your kava is prepared from ONLY the root – the leaves and stems can be toxic. And, of course, it’s ideal to purchase organic kava, since that way you won’t get any unpleasant chemical surprises while seeking healing properties from this amazing plant.

Generally, we recommend that people purchase powdered kava root, as it is the easiest form of dried kava to prepare.  However, if you are looking for a bit more potency and don’t mind some extra preparation work, you can find whole dried kava root or chipped dried kava root for sale online.  Since these products have not been ground in to a fine powder, they lose potency much less quickly, meaning that if you are willing to work with them, the payoff may be worthwhile.  Dried whole or chipped kava root should be soaked in cold or lukewarm water for at LEAST 30 minutes, rather than the 5-10 minutes needed for powdered kava root, and once you’ve soaked the whole root you’ll need to spend a good amount of time and energy to extract the alkaloids from the root matter by squeezing. This is definitely a lot more work that using powdered kava root, but if you want to buy kava root that is the most authentic possible, this is the way to go!

No matter what sort of kava root you decide to go with, make sure you make an informed decision with a mind not just to the price, but to the safety and quality of the product at hand. Kava is a wonderful healer, but it can have negative effects if prepared or used improperly. If you follow the guidelines in this article and the rest of the site, though, you’re sure to buy kava kava root that will provide you with just what you need!