Thanks to the constantly expanding internet marketplace, it has now become extremely easy to buy kava online, as well as many other traditional plant medicines. This is a wonderful development, as it means that many people the world over are now able to learn about and benefit from the healing effects of kava. The downside of buying kava online, however, is that there are now so many websites that offer kava, and so many types of kava available, that it can become difficult to determine the best kava to buy! If one is looking to buy kava online, one thing that can help in the decision making process is to develop a deeper understanding of kava as a traditional plant medicine. This will, perhaps, make it easier to understand which online companies are selling kava as a product for healing, and which online companies are just trying to cash in on a booming market.
Kava is the most important traditional plant medicine of all of Oceania. It seems as if the use of kava spread along with the settlement of the islands in the Pacific. It has even been suggested that Polynesians colonized Easter Island in the third century because a chief had a vision when working with kava that led him there!
Europeans first became acquainted with kava through Captain James Cook and his fellow travelers, who journeyed to Polynesia in the late 1700’s. Many islanders use kava as an everyday beverage that is consumed much in the same way that coffee or tea is taken in other parts of the world. For example, here in Hawaii, myself and many of my other family members have a cup or two of fresh traditional kava tea every day, and it’s the perfect way to unwind after a long day of work – much more relaxing than a cup of coffee, certainly!
Unfortunately, when Western settlers came to Polynesia, it was very common for Christian missionaries to persecute and forbid the use of kava. In many places, traditional kava ceremonies were outlawed! Kava use came to be replaced by alcohol in many island communities, leading to serious alcoholism troubles for many people. Fortunately, in recent decades, an increase in pride in ethnic identity and a decrease in violent missionary zeal has allowed the use of kava and the kava ceremony to increase once more. Large amounts of kava are now being consumed in many places, and this has also helped to heal the problems that alcohol has caused.
Kava has been cultivated by humans for many thousands of years, and is a truly ancient medicine. We understand this because wild species of kava no longer exist. This means that all of the kava plants on the planet now are where they are due to human activity. This indicates that kava has been in use as a plant medicine since prehistoric times!
Kava can and has been used to treat many different diseases and disturbances. Most commonly these days it is used to assist with muscle tension, anxiety, depression, and other difficulties caused by stress and tension. However, kava has also been used for a variety of other medical reasons during its long history of use. In Samoa, kava is used as an aphrodisiac and stimulant, and is also used extensively as an internal and external analgesic (in other words, a pain killer). Here in Hawaii, kava is given to children in the morning and the evening if they are restless or feverish. Apparently, kava is also given to children in Tonga to calm them down. The leaves can also be crushed and placed directly on to poisonous stings from insect and fish, and is even used in some places as an antidote for the deadly poison strychnine!
As we can see from all of this information, kava has been an essential medicine for the peoples of Oceania for many thousands of years! I feel that the following quote from Louis Lewin, an early ethnographer who wrote about kava, best describes how very important it is: “Kava was so intimately intertwined with the social, religious, and political life of the South Sea islanders, and was the accompanist of every peaceful or hostile undertaking of the individual or the group, for every joyful or sorrowful event of these people, that it is no wonder that the first discoverers of these islands mentioned the plant and its use, sometimes in quite considerable detail. In addition, the magicians and physicians of the natives held it up as a medicine because it not only induced euphoria soon after it was drunk but also was able to induce even painlessness” (Lewin 1886). If you are interested in learning more about kava’s impact on culture, you can check out my blog post on the subject!
So, when you go to buy kava kava online, remember that it is not just a fashionable new herb, but a powerful ancient plant medicine that has been integral to the lives and developments of many cultures of the world! With this in mind, try to select a kava kava online vendor that seems knowledgeable and respectful about their kava. Buying direct from a farm that grows its own kava is the best option, of course, because then you know exactly where the plant is coming from and it is more likely that those who grow the plant itself will take care in processing and packaging it. And wherever you end up buying kava online, be sure to use it with the care and respect that such an ancient medicine deserves. This way, you will definitely have an even more powerful experience!
For a fascinating view of traditional kava use from anthropologist Chris Kilham, check out the following video!