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This Ancient Beverage Might Be the Key to Relieving Your Stress

Kombucha, adaptogen-spiked coffee, herbal tea: If you’re a wellness aficionado, you’ve likely explored a few of these beverages to regulate your bodily functions, stress levels, or hormones. The latest drink to pique our interest within this space is Kava—no, not coffee (or a European spelling of it), but Kava. You might stumble across the occasional mystical-looking Kava shop during your afternoon walk around the neighborhood, but the mystery behind the beverage remains. What even is Kava, and why are there people buying Kava roots by the pound? How can it possibly be worth all the recent health hype? We spoke with Harding Stowe, founder of Brooklyn Kava, for some insider information.

What Does it Mean to be ‘Sober Curious?’

lcoholic” and “alcoholism” are terms wrought with stigma, which can prevent people from accessing help and marginalize those working through their relationship with alcohol. The scientific community and sober advocates have long embraced terms like alcohol use disorder and substance use disorder to be used instead, but the label ‘Sober Curious’ takes this thinking a step further and in a more relaxed direction. Ruby Warrington, author of Sober Curious: The Blissful Sleep, Greater Focus, Limitless Presence, and Deep Connection Awaiting Us All on the Other Side of Alcohol, coined the term around 2015 to describe her own “uneasy relationship with booze.”

“After many years of privately questioning my drinking,” Warrington said in an email, “I began speaking openly about my conflicted feelings about alcohol.”

In initiating this dialogue, she discovered many people struggled similarly—people who found alcohol problematic for them but didn’t identify as “alcoholics.” The stigma made people afraid to talk about questioning their alcohol use. “…[they] didn’t have an outlet for an open discussion about the problems even “normal” drinkers experience.”

Star of the sober-curious movement

Kava is all-natural — it comes from the root of a plant native to the Pacific Islands. It contains kavapyrones, a psychotropic substance that acts similar to alcohol in your brain, promoting feelings of peace and happiness. It is also believed to act as a mild pain reliever and can relax your muscles (via WebMD). Kava has been known to promote feelings of joy, relaxation, and uplift your frame of mind: "Because of its mood-boosting effect, Psychedelic Water makes for a great alternative to alcohol."

"People have described themselves as feeling giggly, bubbly, serene, and content after trying our blend. Basically, it gets you feeling good and puts a smile on your face while keeping your head clear and your cognition intact. It doesn't mess you up the way that alcohol or cannabis does," states Gogia. "It's low-calorie, vegan, GMO-free, alcohol-free, and gluten-free, making it a great choice if you're looking to cut back on alcohol consumption or if you're just looking for a healthy choice to keep the fridge stocked this summer."

What Is Kava Kava?

Kava Kava is an herbal remedy that's made from the roots of Piper methysticum -- a type of plant found in the islands of the Pacific Ocean. Its name literally means “intoxicating pepper.” People who live on Pacific islands like Fiji and Tonga have used it for hundreds of years in social gatherings and traditional medicine. They dry out the roots or crush them into a powder. Then they add water and drink the mixture.

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