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What is Kava?

kavabowl Kava is an herb that has been used for thousands of years to prepare a relaxing social beverage in its native Polynesia. Only the roots of the plant are used and are ground in water to extract the active ingredients. The water extract is then strained and drunk, often from a coconut shell. Kava has an agreeable spicy, pungent flavor and numbs the mouth when drunk.

Research published in Europe ten years ago showed kava to be an effective treatment for anxiety and insomnia and kava use has become very popular in Europe.

There have been some concerns that kava can cause liver damage. Due to reports of liver damage from kava extracts in Germany and Switzerland the European Union banned imports of kava in 2002. The ban was lifted in 2008 after a World Health Organization study in 2007 suggested that kava extracts made from the whole plant (instead of just the roots) using acetone or ethanol were to blame.

Kava is legal to use and consume in the US. If you would like to read more about kava research and safety please browse Kava, the anxiolytic herb: back to basics to prevent liver injury?

We can't advertise kava as a treatment for anxiety or insomnia due to FDA rules. If you would like to try kava for yourself the usual way to prepare a beverage from kava root powder is to use a blender. Just place a cup of cold water with one to two tablespoons of kava root powder in a blender and mix for 3 to 5 minutes. Blending is essential to extract the active ingredients. Strain through a fine mesh strainer or muslin and enjoy. Milk can be used instead of water and flavorings like cocoa can be added if desired. Avoid kava extracts that are made using solvents like acetone or ethanol.


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