Kava: An Antianxiety Herb

I drink kava pretty much daily, because I like its effects.

What is kava? It is a herb that grows naturally in the Pacific Islands. People there have been grinding its root for centuries to make drinks out of it. Eventually, it came to the West. No, I’m not going to give you the full lowdown on its history. There are better places on the web for this than here.

Okay, so what’s the deal with kava? It makes you feel a bit like you’re drunk, but not quite. It is hard to pin down the effects it has on me. One thing for sure, I never get a hangover from it. I’m also not addicted to it. Yes, I drink it daily, but if I did not have my daily ration – and sometimes I don’t, because I’m driving that day, or doing something else – it is not a big deal. I imagine that if I were addicted to it, then I’d have a much bigger problem when I don’t have it.

One of the benefits of drinking kava is its antianxiety effect. It also makes you more social, but being a recluse, I’ve not experienced this. I know that some people have replaced their alcohol consumption with kava, because it is not as harsh on the system as alcohol.

A brief note on liver enzymes and kava: someone warned me that if I drink kava daily, my liver enzymes would go haywire. This hasn’t happened. What I’ve been able to find about kava and negative effects is fuzzy. I think you either have to have kava with alcohol or to have some other serious health issue for kava to contribute to any enzyme problem. I do not drink alcohol at all, and I’ve had elevated liver enzymes in the past (enough to keep an eye on it, but not enough to require intervention), but right now they are fine.

Kava is entirely legal in the US, but laws vary from place to place. I think the variety of kava you should use is very much a matter of preference. However, I’d stay away from any kava that Amazon sells. The only things that I’d get from Amazon are the shaker bottle and the shaker ball. Unfortunately, I can’t embed, so here’s the link to the ball:


There’s also a version that has the shaker bottle and the ball together, but any shaker will do. My bottle is not made for kava.

There are multiple ways to prepare kava. I’ve not tried them all. I went for the shaker ball method, and I haven’t looked back. There is also a way to brew a form of instant kava, which is really fast, or to go with the more labor-intensive traditional method. I’ve not tried it either.

I know that my method works because I can feel my lips go numb when I drink my kava, and if I make an excellent batch, my tinnitus also goes away. I don’t know why kava has that effect, but it does.

My recipe has evolved, but here is now the method I use:

  1. 1 cup (236ml) of water into the kettle. Or one mug. I prefer to just fill my mug. I think my mug is a bit over one cup. You may want to play with it.
  2. I use my kettle to warm it to around 120℉.
  3. While the water warms up, two tablespoons of kava into a shaker ball.
  4. Drop ball into shaker bottle.
  5. Pour water over ball.
  6. Close the bottle tightly.
  7. Shake for 60 seconds.
  8. Let sit for 10 minutes.
  9. Give it another shake for 60 seconds.
  10. Pour into coffee mug.
  11. Add 1/4 cup of creamer.
  12. Enjoy! I chug it.

The 120℉ figure is important. If your water is too cool, you won’t extract the kavalactones from the kava. If your water is too hot, you will destroy the kavalactones. Some people use hot tap water. I prefer to use my kettle. I can program it for the right temperature, and it usually gets there while I’m putting the kava in the ball.

Make sure that your bottle is tightly closed. I’ve had a couple of mishaps with that. Once, I heard a click when I closed the lid of my bottle, but it was still not firmly closed. The bottle opened while I was shaking it, and it sent a gulp of water all over the floor.

The creamer is important for two reasons. One is that the kavalactones need something to bind to in order to improve absorption. That something must be fatty. So the creamer performs this function. The creamer also helps make the kava more drinkable. Here’s the thing: kava tastes pretty vile on its own. Even with the creamer, some people don’t want it. I think you can always add more creamer, but at some point you’re just diluting the kava. You can also change the type of creamer you use.

When you consume kava, it is preferable to have it on an empty stomach, and to chug what you brewed rather than sip it. It is also worth mentioning that kava has a reverse tolerance effect: the more you use it, the less quantity you need to get the same effects.

Again, which kava you want to use is a matter of preference. However, the variety I prefer is Santo’s Pride. Here’s a link to it:

Enjoy, or bula, as they say!






One response to “Kava: An Antianxiety Herb”

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