The age of the internet has brought along with it many truly amazing things, including unprecedented access to information and the ability to begin to determine for ourselves what constitutes good food, medicine, health, and so forth. Every day, people are opening up more and more to the many options that herbal remedies offer them for self-healing. As part of this movement, people are beginning to discover the wonderful healing properties of my favorite plant, kava (or ‘awa, as we call it in Hawaii!). However, another aspect of the boom of the internet is that is can be confusing to figure out where to buy kava. The purpose of this article is to provide you with some background on kava and kava production, and to provide you with the tools you will need to figure out where best to buy kava kava.
The first and most important thing to consider when buying kava is the level of quality of the kava you are purchasing. You may have heard rumors or statements from the news media stating that kava is dangerous and that it can cause liver damage. You may also have heard about a number of cases of kava related liver failure that occurred in Germany some years ago, which caused the EU to ban the medicine for some time. However, the essential thing to understand is that in many plants, alkaloid concentrations vary widely in different parts of the plant.
In the case of kava, the roots, specifically the lateral roots, contain the highest concentrations of kavalactones and other beneficial alkaloids. On the other hand, the leaves and stems contain fewer beneficial alkaloids, and a great deal more toxins. We know for a fact that the kava that was used in the German liver failure cases was prepared using kava stems and leaves. As any native Pacific islander will tell you, you should NEVER consume the stems and leaves of kava. So, this was a situation where tradition was disregarded in favor of profit, and the results were, as expected, awful. With this in mind, it is VERY important that when you go to purchase kava, you figure out where to buy kava kava that has ONLY been prepared from roots, and that has been prepared primarily from lateral roots. Ideally, you are going to want kava that is prepared using a ratio of 10% underground roots and 90% lateral roots – this will get you the most potent and the safest kava, and it also indicates that the kava is being harvested sustainably. If you are still uncertain, check out more factual information on kava safety.
Another important consideration in finding the best kava kava is the strain of kava you are purchasing. Kava has been cultivated by man for many thousands of years, and it is generally the more traditional strains that are the safest. After all, people have been working with these older strains for a very long time in complete safety, so we don’t need a scientific study to prove that they are safe – we already have tons of data on the subject. It is best to buy kava that is from a non-hybridized strain, such as Mahakea or Borogu. These strains are predictable in their safety and potency, and their effects on the human body have been well documented. Hybrid strains such as Tue Dai kava have not been so well-studied, and although these strains can be very potent, it is possible that they create unsafe combinations of alkaloids when consumed. You want to figure out where to buy kava that is of a specific strain, which the company should specifically list on their website.
Another good way to figure out where to buy kava kava is to consider where the kava itself is coming from. A reputable company will not only let you know what strain and root composition their kava is made from, they will provide information about the kava farm that supplies them. One of the best things you can do when trying to buy kava online is to locate a company that sells kava direct from their own farm. This way, you cut out the middle man, and you know that the kava is being harvested, processed and shipped out quickly. Kava farms ship out lots of kava to various places, meaning that they have a very high turnover rate, and that if you buy kava from them, you will be sure to get a fresher and more potent product!
Finally, its best to buy kava from a company that seems to have a true connection and deep knowledge of the plant. Like any plant medicine, kava deserves a great deal of respect as a healer and teacher. A good kava vendor will not only be selling kava, but will provide information on the many uses of kava as a medicine and will provide contact information in case you have any questions about your purchase. No matter where you decide to buy kava, if you follow these guidelines, you’re sure to end up with a high quality product that will provide you with just the healing properties that you desire!
If you still want to learn more about kava and its traditional use, check out the following 1998 video of a Royal Kava ceremony in Tonga. This will give you a great feeling for the true flavor of a traditional kava ceremony!