Updated: May 17
Tropical islands where golden glimmers of sun wink across turquoise water and the happiest people on earth live long enough to write history books for great-grandchildren and where almost nobody fights. Jungle plants so dense that their colors seep into each other; greens and blues with shimmers of yellow and more greens deep with a vibrancy you’ve never imagined, crawl, spring, climb, sprout, and dance as the happiest people on earth drink liquid from coconut shells that looks a bit like dirt and tastes a bit like dirt. They credit this drink for gifting them what humans desired since Eve ate that fruit and a prehistoric squiggle decided to crawl out of a lake and grow legs: long life and happiness.
The sun setting over the turquoise water as the happiest people on earth raise a shell, connecting one with the other and past generations over these mysterious murky, dirt-tasting drinks that will preserve peace and happiness for generations to come.
This magic drink is the ground-up root of the humble and mysterious kava plant.
Each kava plant must be propagated by root division as female flowers are rare and always sterile. After 3-5 years Noble Kava plants mature allowing time for the kavalactones, the active ingredients, to fully develop. Kavalactones compounds are responsible for elevating kava from a just root that tastes a bit like dirt to an essential drink sacred to some of the happiest people on earth.
What is Kava?
Kava kava is a member of the Piperaceae (or pepper) family, piper-methysticum species.
At least 18 different kavalactones contribute to an array of benefits found in kava from soothing anxiety and stress, aiding insomnia, and easing pain and muscle tension. Kava is imbibed as a natural relaxer. Broadly, kavalactones work by inhibiting neurons firing and modifying GABA A receptors, blocking the uptake of norepinephrine (the “fear” neurotransmitters) and working similarly to benzodiazepines by changing a receptor’s response to its stimulus. When this norepinephrine activity is suppressed, the mind and body can relax instead of spiraling into overactivity. Methysticin, one of the 6 major kavalactones, acts as an anticonvulsant to calm hyperactivity in the brain, soothing anxiety and helping break patterns of circular thought. Kava studies show a centrally acting relaxation of skeletal muscles and reflex irritability and both analgesic (pain-relieving) and antipyretic (fever lowering) actions.
Kava is gently sedative and supports a transition from the daytime stress many of us experience to a peaceful sleep. Little surprise that kava is the drink of choice for some of the happiest people on earth. #yaqonabefine #kavasocial
Kava is perhaps most famously recognized as a powerful connecting agent. Throughout Fiji, the South Pacific, and Hawaii, social gatherings from celebrations, rituals, to conflict resolutions, religious offerings, evening socializing and beyond always incorporate kava.
[E.R.] Fijians lived in societies that were led by chiefs, elders and notable warriors. Spiritual leaders, often called bete, were also important cultural figures and the production and consumption of yaqona was part of their ceremonial and community rites. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiji
Special ceremony of the tribe of "Vusu" in Fiji, serving yaqona (kava) to their Chief.
Traditionally kava is picked and chewed, ground, or pounded, either fresh or dried, before being infused into water or coconut milk for consumption. For many, kava's slightly sedative qualities help in easing insomnia and may induce a deeper dream state. Kava awakens creativity and encourages connectedness, bringing peace, energy, and euphoria to a social setting.
"Your head is affected most pleasantly. Thoughts come cleanly. You feel friendly... never cross ... You cannot hate with kava in you." Tom Harrisson, Savage Civilization (1937)
The feeling you may experience from drinking kava is dose-dependent and varies based on the plant’s origin and preparation and the constitution of the drinker. Different regions grow various kinds of kava with differing effects influenced by the environment, age, and traditional cultivation methods. As a root, kava is energetically grounding, bringing balance to the Muladhara, or root chakra.
Beyond the case studies deconstructing the scientific chemical mechanisms and sociology and anthropology studies on kava-drinking populations as some of the happiest people on earth is a mystical, almost spiritual aspect of kava. Yes, it actively calms the mind, soothing anxiety, opening and relaxing, a grounded peace. And yes, it induces mild euphoric bliss, makes you feel good, chills you out, a social lubricant and a good time.