Here at Kavahana, we want everyone to love kava as much as we do. But we know that involves building trust and helping you have a great experience from the start. To do that, we created a list of our top tips and tricks to keep in mind when you are beginning your kava journey.
Drink kava on an empty stomach
When your stomach is empty, there is nothing else for the kava to compete with for absorption. This means that the active ingredients in kava, called kavalactones, can be absorbed quickly and efficiently. It’s best to drink kava at least 3-4 hours after a meal or snack. Traditionally, kava is drunk as an afterwork beverage before going home for the day, similar to going out for a drink with friends after the work day.
Use hot tap water to make traditional kava
There are a few different ways to make kava, but we recommend starting out with the traditional way. It’s the most time intensive, but it’s a great introduction to the culture and preparation of kava. The key is using hot tap water when you mix the kava root. It’s not too hot and not too cool, but just right.
You’ll take the kava powder and put into a cloth tea bag for steeping. You want to be sure that you are massaging the kava around while you steep to be get all the kavalactones out. You’ll do this for about 3-5 minutes or until the water becomes a chocolatey brown in color.
For a more detailed description for how to make traditional kava check out our article The 4 different ways to make kava at home
You may get some unexpected feelings, for the better
The most common and well known effects of kava is it’s ability to make you feel relaxed, mentally calm and social. There are different types of kava that have different effects. Some are heady, where you feel the effects mentally; calm, focus, social. The other is heavy, where the feelings are more in your body; limbs are heavy, you feel tired and sedated. It’s important to know what type of kava you use so you know what feelings to expect.
Kava also can give your mouth and tongue a tingling feeling. It may even feel a little numb. This is due to the different kavalactones in the kava root. Kavalactones are the active ingredients of kava and have different effects on your nervous system. This ranges from the calming and relaxing kava is known for, to an anesthesic or numbing effect that you feel in your mouth.
The quality of kava matters
The quality of kava you drink can have a serious impact on your experience. Poorly sourced kava may use other parts of the kava plant, rather than the root, which effects the strength of the kava and how it makes you feel. We recommend buying from small, pacific island farmers who produce fresh, high quality kava. This has the added bonus of supporting the cultural tradition of kava, which is important when consuming it.
Kava can give you a reverse tolerance
Most of us have heard of a tolerance, when talking about drugs and alcohol. This is when you need more of a substance to get the same effects. For example, as we drink alcohol, we need more alcohol to get us to feel the tipsy effects.
Well, with kava it’s the opposite. Kava is a natural adaptogen; it helps support your body’s response to emotional and physical stress. This means that the more kava you drink the less you need to get the same effect. This is called a “reverse tolerance”. As we drink kava, our bodies learn to manage stress and therefore the effect of kava is less noticeable since we are experiencing less stress. You can find the right strength of kava for you for the long term.
You may not feel the effects at first
For some new users, they don’t feel the effects right away. Don’t lose hope! There are many factors that go into how kava affects us.
Some things to think about:
It’s important to remember every body is different. If you are a larger person, you may need to drink more kava than your smaller friends to get the effects. (Similar to alcohol).
As mentioned above, it’s important to drink kava on an empty stomach so it can fully absorb without competing with other nutrients.
Not preparing kava correctly or drinking low high quality kava could also be a factor.
It’s also important that you are drinking the right dose for you, so make sure you measure properly if preparing it on your own.
If you follow these simple strategies you are bound to have a great kava experience. And hopefully the first of many.