If youíre reading this article, you probably have at least a little bit of background into what kava powder is, but for the benefit of the less educated, Iím going to start by telling you about the origins of kava powder.
Now, though itís "kava powder" now, and what youíre going to buy in order to mix up your own kava drink, it certainly doesnít start in powder form. The Kava plantís scientific name is "Piper Methysticum," which actually means "intoxicating pepper." Before making a kava powder out of the plant, you have to get rid of all the unwanted parts. Specifically, you only want to use the roots. If you use the leaves or stems (or if youíre using a low-quality brand that may let some leaves and stems slip in) then there are potentially hazardous results. To explain that briefly Ė the leaves and stems of the kava plant hate your liver.
So long as youíre just using the root (or buying a powder from a reputable source thatís only going to use the root), there is nothing toxic about kava powder. People have been using it in the western Pacific islands (like Hawaii, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, etc.) for thousands of years with no ill effects.
Once you have your kava powder, you will mix it with room-temperature water (anywhere from one to eight tablespoons of kava powder per cup of water) and let is steep for about a half hour. There are many different methods of mixing the kava and water, and though some mix it one cup or bowl at a time, others mix large amounts for a group setting. Typically, the water will be put in a bucket or cooler. The kava powder is then put into some kind of strainer. One of the most effective strainers thatís easy to get are ladyís pantyhose, but most other cloth-type strainers will do the job just as well. Then you knead the strainer to release the kava into the water.
So, why do we do this? Why go to all this effort for a drink? Well, simply put, Kava can make you "drunk," but with a few major differences. Here are some similarities between the effects of kava and alcohol:
1) Both are sleep-inducing.
2) Both are muscle relaxants.
3) Both help relieve social and mental anxiety.
There are some very important differences, though!:
1) Unlike sleep after imbibing alcohol, sleep after Kava is incredibly restful. Most people report that they feel more rested than normal after the sleep induced from kava powder. Those who have alcohol-induced sleep report that it is far less restful.
2) Unlike the after-effects of alcohol, those who drink kava feel no negative effects the next day (thatís right, no hangover!)
3) Unlike alcohol, various studies have shown that Kava and kava powder have no negative long-term effects, and that Kava is not addictive.
4) You canít build up a tolerance to Kava. While you have to drink more and more for the same effect with alcohol, Kava will have the same general effect on you with each use.
5) Kava has some positive effects that alcohol does not have. People who have imbibed kava report increased mental clarity and increased patience.
In other words, drinking Kava makes you get drunk without being stupid, without getting a hangover, without endangering your health, and gives you better sleep.