The Secrets of Kava Kava
The kava kava herb is made from the root or stump of a plant, native to the South Pacific Islands. A relative of the pepper family, kava kava (or simply, kava), is a large shrub known to grown in marshy wet areas. The large, heart-shaped leaves of this plant are easy to identify, and the kava plant can grow to be six feet tall, and in some cases even taller.
The root, which looks like a bunch of small branches, is the most frequently used part. Since it grows among the many islands of the South Pacific, it has been used for many years in many different cultures and because of this, the kava root has many other names. For instance, the plant is called “yaquona” in Fiji, and “awa” in Hawaii. You may also see the term “grog” or “kava pepper” when referring to the root.
Kava Root’s Long, Dark History
Kava kava root’s history dates back more than 3000 years, and carries a mysterious and enchanting story. Often used for religious ceremonies, kava root was ground into a powder, then mixed as a drink that, when taken in excess, can have similar effects to drinking alcohol (however, described as much “clearer”).
Other folktales suggest that the first kava plant grew on the grave of someone who was sacrificed for religious reasons. Moving forward, drinking kava root was said to make you a potential victim of sacrifice. Pacific Islanders knew the root, once ingested, would help them relax, reduce anxiety and when consumed enough, act as a sedative.
The Benefits of Drinking Kava Kava
Once native islanders discovered kava root’s calming effects, they started using it for a variety of things. Medicinally, it was used as a mind and muscle relaxer, curing aches and pains and relieving symptoms. Eventually, it was discovered that the root could even help prevent convulsions.
Kava kava also helps cure restlessness and prevent anxiety and nervous tension. While one of the more obvious uses was for a sleep aid, in small doses it can even help soothe the stomach. Kava root is still being researched, but has served as a pungent anti-stress tool for ages.