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Kava in Australia

On our recent travels to Vanuatu, we were put in touch with Cameron McLeod from Australia Kava Shop. Cam was formerly a long-term resident of Vanuatu – residing there for 15 years and working in the kava industry for most of that time. We chatted about how Kava has expanded worldwide and, most recently, in Australia. Australia has banned kava since 2007, but in 2022, they allowed kava to be imported and sold as food under an import system.

Australia Kava Shop Founder Cameron McLeod

Buying Kava in Australia

Cam mentioned that since the ban had been lifted, there has been a flood of kava into Australia. Amongst a sea of sellers and products, there now appears to be some clear leaders in the field that are doing the right thing by kava in Australia. Australia Kava Shop and some of the other front runners are abiding by the following key tenants of selling kava:

  • Testing all their kava before importing to determine:
  1. Noble Variety
  2. Moisture Content
  • Making sure that HACCAP packing is used for all products repackaged in Australia.
  • Making information about kava in Australia available to kava newbies in Australia
  • Giving back to South Pacific Charities.

Cam was passionate about the Charity component. Australia Kava Shop runs a program called Shells for Boards. Cam was a founding member of the Vanuatu Surfing Association, so they donate $1 for every Kg of Kaa sold to the VSA to help with board and community programs.

Value-added kava products in Australia

Unfortunately, under the new Australian laws, kava cannot be used as an ingredient in food. That means that products like Kava Cola (that Cam was involved in – see below video), Kava Chocolate, and other Kava products like we have in the US are unavailable. There is hope that the Australian government will change its position when the current laws are revised in 2024.

Kava Bars in Australia

Unlike in the USA, Australia hasn’t yet created a burgeoning kava bar scene. Cam mentioned a few are around, but it hasn’t taken off yet. However, he wants Australia Kava Shop wants to be at the forefront of it. Currently, he is working with an investment group looking to roll out a trial kava bar on the Gold Coast of Australia, intending to expand once successful.

The Future of Kava in Australia

It’s easy to forget that kava in the USA in 2002 consisted of 1 kava bar and only 3 or 4 vendors of real kava. Fast forward to now; there are over 300 kava bars and endless vendors… Nobody is as good as Coral Sea Kava, “wink wink”, but there are lots of us! Cam said he hoped to see Australia grow comparatively just like the USA. We certainly hope so, as this will mean more money in the hands of the Pacific Islands, and more kava can only make the world a better place!

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Benefits of Kava Tea: Our Top 5

Woman relaxed drinking kava and listening to vinyl records on her bed

Kava (Kava kava or Piper methysticum) is a plant that grows in the South Pacific. Cultural ceremonies used kava roots for centuries. Kava is now becoming popular around the world as a natural way to improve well-being and productivity, boost energy, reduce stress levels, and fight anxiety, while also helping you relax at night. In this article, we will discuss the 5 powerful benefits of kava tea.

Kava, Awa, Ava, Yaqona, Yagona, Grog, Waka, Sakau, Seka, Malok, and Malogu are all words for kava in different South Pacific cultures. Kava kava is a shrub plant that is part of the pepper family. It has served as a form of medicine in addition to its ceremonial purposes for centuries in the Pacific Islands.

Stress Management – One of the Top Cited Benefits of Kava Tea

Kava tea can help to manage and relieve stress. Like during the pandemic, when zoom fatigue and our heightened immune system could cause a spike in our stress levels. Kava can help take the edge off and put you at ease. Allowing you to carry on with whatever challenges come throughout the day. During a stressful day, you can simply brew up a little kava tea and let the kavalactones do their work.

Since it is an effective natural stress reliever, your can experience all the benefits of kava tea without the side effects associated with prescription drugs. While prescription medications can be an effective solution for stress and anxiety, many people are beginning to discover the benefits of kava for their anxiety and stress management.

“I love this tea because it allows me to work at my job and still keep my sanity.

It takes the edge off balancing work and home.”

It’s a go-to for Anxiety

Kava can help reduce anxiety so you can go about your day.
Photo by Uday Mittal on Unsplash

Kava can temporarily reduce anxiety and provide a sense of calm when you’re suffering from high blood pressure. There have been a few studies that have looked at the effectiveness of kava tea on blood pressure.

One study in Germany involved 40 patients with high blood pressure who were given a daily dose of kava, while the control group was given a placebo. After several weeks, the patients who had been given kava experienced a significant drop in their blood pressure while the control group experienced no change.

Another study involving patients with high blood pressure looked at the effects of kava over a several-month period. The patients saw the benefits of kava tea after reporting a significant drop in their anxiety at the end of the study.

Stress Relief Is Within Sight When Drinking Kava

Stress relief is one of the top benefits of kava team on the body.
Photo by Radu Florin on Unsplash

You may be asking yourself, “Why is kava so popular?” Well, when consumed regularly, kava tea helps to promote a sense of inner peace, allowing you to let go of the stress of everyday living. It can also be useful in managing self-induced stress, relieving and minimizing tension, anxiety, and stress that sometimes comes with being a caregiver. Another benefit of kava tea is that it can help you to maintain a level head in challenging situations.

“I feel happier and completely at ease when I drink this tea. It doesn’t give you a ‘high’ but it does help to relax you.”

It’s a Natural Alternative to Sleep Aids

Kava tea is often used to help with sleep, as it can relax your body and put your mind at ease. It has a calming effect on the nervous system, which helps to address insomnia.

A 2013 study published in the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, found that the benefits of kava tea had a positive effect on sleep quality and negative mood in young adults. In the study, kava extract improved sleep quality and reduced depression and anxiety.

Kava tea is very effective in helping you get a good night’s sleep. It is also a great way to make your transition into sleep a bit easier. It can help you relax and fall asleep faster, sleep more soundly, and stay asleep all night with no interruptions.

The Benefits of Kava Tea On Your Overall Health

The benefits of kava tea have been seen the world over from relieving stress and reducing anxiety, to helping reduce the effects of insomnia. All of these are positive contributors to your overall health. Kava can help alleviate muscle aches and pains, tension headaches, joint pain. It is also a great remedy for reducing swelling and inflammation. This traditional Pacific Island remedy is also a great way to help reduce your appetite, especially in times when you are trying to lose weight, but do not want to suffer from hunger pains or cravings.

Kava tea is also a healthy alternative to alcohol. Many people have been able to quit drinking altogether because of this wonderful beverage. Kava tea is a great way to relax and unwind without drinking too much alcohol. When you are drinking kava tea, you are safe from having a hangover the next day. It has been found to stimulate saliva production, keeping your mouth clean and teeth healthy.

Tea is the traditional form and effective way to consume kava, however, you can also consume it as a tincture or capsule. It is safe, effective, and can help keep you healthy and happy.

Takeaway: Kava tea is a very potent, but safe drink. It’s worth taking just one or two cups a day to reap the benefits of kava tea on improving your health and relieving stress.

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Why is Kava root popular? Everything you need to know

Kava Kava (Piper Methysticum)

What is Kava?

Kava Kava (Piper Methysticum) is a shrub plant from the pepper family which originates from islands in the South Pacific, where it has been cultivated for thousands of years for ceremonial and medicinal purposes. Hand-harvested kava roots and rootstock are peeled, cleaned with water, chopped up, and then sun-dried. The kava roots are then ground into a medium grind to be used in the preparation of the beverage.

The active ingredient in the plant is called kavalactones, which are concentrated in the roots and rootstock. There are over 20 kavalactones that have been identified, but there are 6 that occur predominately in kava. The level of kavalactones can be identified by a 6 digit number, its chemotype, in decreasing order of presence. Understanding the chemotype can help to determine the potential effects that particular kava will have when consumed. 

Why do people drink kava?

There are many reasons that people consume kava the world over. Traditionally in Oceania, kava was consumed for ceremonial and religious purposes. As knowledge of kava and its effects has spread from the pacific islander diaspora to travelers throughout the world, kava has been consumed more and more for social and anti-anxiety therapeutic effects. You may have noticed that a kava bar has opened up in your neighborhood, as so many have across the United States in the last several years from coast to coast. Many people’s first encounter with kava is at a bar such as these, where people congregate to drink kava, socialize and relieve stress, in an alcohol-free environment.
In kava bars, it is prepared in a tanoa (traditional method) or large buckets and then served in a coconut shell or similar cup.

Kava prepared in Fiji using traditional method and tanoa
Kava being prepared in the traditional method in a tanoa

How does kava make you feel?

Kava can have a variety of effects, depending upon the cultivar (strain) consumed and the amount consumed for a kava session. The main types of effects can be described as either heady, heavy, or balanced, as in a combination of both heady and heavy.

Heady refers to the more sociable or euphoric effects that can be felt when consuming these types of kava. The drinker tends to be more relaxed and sociable, while still being able to have clarity of thought.

Heavy refers to effects that impact the body, relaxation of the muscles, release of tension, and a heaviness to the body. For very heavy kava cultivars, this physical sedation effect could be described as having “couch lock.” Some kavas have an analgesic property that can cause temporary numbness in the mouth when consumed, similar to that of a small dose of novocaine from the dentist.

Balanced refers to kavas that have a combination of both heady and heavy effects that fall somewhere in between.

What does kava taste like?

Kava tea generally has an earthy taste, which some drinkers also describe as cashew-like, grassy, chalky, or peppery. Traditionally prepared kava tea (raw kava root powder brewed and manually extracted in water) is typically consumed quickly in 6 to 8-ounce “shells” or bilos (“bilo” is Fijian for “cup,” usually in the form of coconut shells), often with a piece of fruit, such as pineapple as a chaser.

Coconut bilo of kava tea with dry kava powder and kava strainer bag
Bilo of freshly prepared kava tea made using dry kava powder and strainer bag

Is kava tea safe to drink?

Yes, if consumed correctly and in moderation, kava is safe. Kava has been consumed for thousands of years by pacific islanders with a history of being safe to drink.

In the early 2000s, there were reports of cases where patients that experienced liver toxicity had consumed kava, along with other potential supplements. In 2002, the FDA issued guidelines for use of kava but did not ban kava in the United States. As a result of the same cases in question, Germany did ban the import of kava in 2002 which then reversed the ban in 2014, due to “lack of proof of safety issues with noble kava” according to Planta Medica.

The AAFP published that, “Short-term use of kava is recommended for patients with mild to moderate anxiety disorders who are not using alcohol or taking other medicines metabolized by the liver, but who wish to use “natural” remedies.”

They also stated that “Researchers concluded that liver toxicity is rare and idiosyncratic, with the majority of reported cases resulting from the combination of kava with other hepatoactive agents; the benefits of kava seem to outweigh its risks.”

Consumption of kava is not recommended for those who regularly consume alcohol, are pregnant or nursing, are under the age of 18, have a history of liver issues, or are on antidepressant medication. Please consult a qualified medical professional about the potential use of kava if you meet these conditions or have other concerns.