Kava Benefits

Kava Benefits

January 12, 2024

estimated read time - 19 min

Kava boasts a historical track record as a natural remedy for various health concerns, such as anxiety, stress, and insomnia. Over time, numerous investigations have been conducted to delve into its potential advantages. These studies have shed light on additional health merits associated with kava, which could prove beneficial for some medical conditions.

Below are several potential health benefits and characteristics of kava gleaned from research articles that could potentially aid in mitigating certain health conditions.

THE QUICK LIST



Kava Mechanism of Action

Man Jumping Over Cliff

Man Jumping Over Cliff

Kava's active components engage with various brain neurotransmitters like GABA. Kavalactones within kava boost GABA activity, potentially inducing relaxation and calmness in the mind and body. This process parallels benzodiazepines, often prescribed for anxiety, yet with milder effects at typical doses. For a deeper dive into its workings, explore further here.

Kava's influence extends to neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, and noradrenaline. Serotonin regulates mood, appetite, sleep, and various bodily functions, often associated with well-being and happiness. Dopamine governs movement, motivation, and brain reward pathways, influencing pleasure and satisfaction. Reduced levels of serotonin and dopamine are associated with conditions like depression and anxiety disorders.

Noradrenaline, also known as norepinephrine, participates in the body's stress reactions, aiding in the control of blood pressure and heart rate. Within the brain, it contributes to alertness, attention, and the formation of new memories.


Benefits of Kava

Woman Sitting in the Forest

Woman Sitting in the Forest

What is Kava Good For

Kava is renowned for its organic potential to alleviate stress and anxiety, offering a natural remedy for relaxation. Traditionally it is used in Pacific Island cultures where it promotes a sense of social bonding during ceremonies, religious practices, and even meditative purposes. Additionally, some studies suggest its efficacy in managing sleep disorders, killing cancer cells, soothing sore muscles, and working as an aphrodisiac

Research uncovers kava's potential in easing Generalized Anxiety Disorder, displaying its stress-relieving properties in controlled trials (1). It aids anxiety management, induces relaxation without impairing cognitive function, and shows promise in addressing sleep disorders. Beyond its calming effects, kava boasts various potential benefits. Here, we delve into the diverse properties of kava worth exploring for its therapeutic advantages.

Does Kava Help with Anxiety

Kava's anxiolytic properties contribute to anxiety reduction and relaxation. The impact of kavalactones on GABA function fosters relaxation, potentially easing anxiety and stress. This connection highlights kava's capacity to soothe the mind, providing a natural avenue to encourage relaxation and alleviate anxiety symptoms.

Does Kava Help with Sleep

Kava has been explored for its potential role in improving sleep due to its calming properties. While ongoing research continues to investigate its direct impact on sleep patterns, kava's ability to promote relaxation suggests a potential contribution to aiding sleep. Individuals may find kava beneficial in achieving a relaxed state conducive to better sleep, though personal reactions can vary, and consulting a healthcare professional is recommended for personalized guidance.

Does Kava Help with Pain

Kava has been suggested to have mild analgesic properties. Some individuals report experiencing subtle pain relief after consuming kava. Its potential for pain relief is associated with kavalactones, which may modulate neurotransmitters involved in pain signaling, such as glutamate (2). However, research on kava's effectiveness specifically for pain relief is limited, and its use for managing pain should be approached cautiously and under guidance.

Does Kava Help with Inflammation

Exploration for kava’s anti-inflammatory properties stems from its observed analgesic impact, similar to commonly used anti-inflammatory medications for pain relief. Scientific research suggests specific kava compounds may curtail the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines, vital in regulating bodily inflammation. This mechanism hints at potential relief from pain and inflammation. Given its analgesic and anti-inflammatory attributes, kava shows promise in easing diverse pain types like chronic, neuropathic, and acute discomfort(3).

Does Kava Help Improve Mood

As mentioned before, kavalactones also help regulate other neurotransmitters in the brain such as dopamine, serotonin, and noradrenaline. The interaction with these neurotransmitters, coupled with the inhibition of monoamine oxidase potentially leads to mood enhancement and antidepressant effects by maintaining higher neurotransmitter levels(4).

Does Kava Give You Energy

Kava is mostly recognized for its relaxing impact rather than providing energy. Although, at lower doses, some people might feel a slight boost or mild stimulation. Additionally, there are some kava strains that has uplifting effects.

Does Kava Have Antioxidant Properties

Kavalactones exhibit both direct and indirect antioxidant actions. They neutralize free radicals directly by stabilizing them and also bolster the body's natural defense systems, potentially increasing vital antioxidants like glutathione. This dual-action defense suggests that kava may help shield cells from oxidative damage, showcasing its potential as a protective agent against the harmful effects of free radicals(5).

Does Kava Have Cardiovascular Benefits

The potential cardiovascular benefits of kava stem from its stress-reducing abilities, countering known risk factors like stress and anxiety linked to heart issues. Stress elevates cortisol, triggers inflammation, and harms blood vessels, contributing to cardiovascular disease. Kava's capacity to dilate blood vessels, enhancing blood flow, potentially aids in lowering blood pressure and improving overall cardiovascular health.


Forms Of Kava

Kava Powder and Kava Extract

Kava Powder and Light Kava Mix

Kava is commonly available in tea, capsule, extract, or powder forms, each variation offers unique experiences of this Pacific island-rooted concoction. Each form shares their own advantages and disadvantages. Understanding the diverse forms of kava can help users choose the most suitable option for their needs.

Kava Root Extract Benefits(Traditional Kava)

Kava root extract, prepared traditionally, emerges as one of the safest kava forms due to meticulous processing methods. Traditional preparation involves grinding the root and steeping it in water or coconut water, emphasizing water-soluble compounds over those linked to potential hepatotoxicity. This process minimizes the concentration of compounds that may affect the liver.

Instant Kava Powder Benefits

Instant kava powder is also one of the safest form of kava as it is made the same was as traditional kava, just dehydrated down. It is usually ground and prepared in a way that allows it to dissolve quickly in water or other liquids without needing to be brewed or strained. It's convenient for quick consumption and might have a faster onset of effects. Benefits are similar to other forms of kava, offering relaxation, stress reduction, and potential anxiety relief.

Kava Capsule Benefits

Kava capsules contain kava root extract in a convenient encapsulated form. Capsules offer a measured dosage and are often taken orally. Just like other kava forms, kava capsules are intended to provide relaxation and stress relief.

One potential disadvantage of kava capsules is the variability in potency and quality among different brands or manufacturers, and it may take longer to feel effects as the body first has to dissolve the capsule. Pill capsules also tend to not showcase the full spectrum of kava's effects.

Kava Drops Benefits

These are liquid formulations of kava extract or a tincture that can be added to drinks or consumed directly. They might have a faster absorption rate compared to capsules or tablets.

Disadvantages: liquid extracts tend to be weaker even if doubling up on the kavalactone content. Kava liquid extracts also tend to not showcase the full spectrum of kava's effects.

Kava Tincture Benefits

Similar to drops, tinctures are liquid extracts made by soaking the kava root in alcohol or a mixture of alcohol and water. The alcohol helps extract the active components of kava. Tinctures might have a higher concentration of kavalactones than other forms and but it also have higher alcohol content which is not recommended while taking kava. These drops may also not be suitable for individuals avoiding alcohol due to health, religious, or personal reasons.

We strongly advise against combining kava with alcohol.

Kava Oil Benefits

This is less common and might refer to a concentrated form of kava extract in an oil base. It might have different uses, potentially for topical application or sometimes for aromatherapy, but its efficacy and benefits compared to other forms may vary.


Is Kava Good for Your Health

People Chatting

Woman Doing Meditation

Kava offers potential health benefits, primarily known for relaxation and stress reduction due to its active compounds, like kavalactones. When used responsibly and in moderation, kava may help improve your overall well being.

Can you Drink Kava Everyday

Drinking kava daily is a commonplace in the South Pacific and many cities around the world. While some individuals may tolerate daily consumption, prolonged and excessive use of kava has been associated with skin dryness and dehydration. Although statements of adverse liver effects are common, evidence appears to be limited. It is crucial to be mindful of dosage, source, and individual differences.

Is Kava Dangerous

Kava's safety depends on responsible usage. Kava can be potentially risky if used excessively or for prolonged periods. Quality sourcing, moderate consumption, and consulting a healthcare professional are vital to ensure its safety. When used cautiously and following guidelines, you may benefit safely from its relaxing effects


Legal Status of Kava

We're Closed Sign

We're Closed Sign in Northern Florida

The legal status of kava varies across countries, with some permitting its sale and consumption while others impose restrictions or bans. In the United States, Canda and several other regions, kava is legally available for purchase and consumption, often regulated for quality and safety. However, certain countries restrict or prohibit kava due to concerns about potential health risks.

Where is Kava Banned

In the past, countries like Germany, Switzerland, and France "banned" kava due to a year of isolated cases involving liver issues. However, some of these countries lifted the ban shortly after due to the lack of evidence for these cases as well as alleged medical and pharmaceutical deceit. Australia is one example who lifted its ban in 2022, allowing individuals to purchase kava provided it meets national food standards and follows kava regulations. Regulations can change, so it's wise to stay updated through international travel advisories or official health departments to know if kava is restricted in specific regions. This helps ensure compliance with local laws and regulations. Here’s a quick guide on the legality of kava in some countries.


FAQ

Does Kava Help with Weight Loss

Kava's main advantages focus on promoting relaxation, not weight loss. While some herbal remedies aid weight management, scientific evidence directly linking kava to weight loss is limited.


Conclusion

In conclusion, kava offers an array of potential health benefits primarily centered around relaxation, stress reduction, and potential improvements in mood. Its active compounds, particularly kavalactones, interact with certain neurotransmitters in the brain, contributing to its calming effects without impairing cognitive function. While kava shows promise as a natural remedy, staying informed about its legal status in different regions is essential for compliance and safety.

It is also important to note that the information presented in this blog is for entertainment purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It is also important to consult a qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have about a medical condition. Furthermore, the use of kava or any other supplement should be approached with caution and under the guidance of a healthcare professional, particularly if you have a pre-existing medical condition or are taking medication.


References:

  1. Ooi SL, Henderson P, Pak SC. Kava for Generalized Anxiety Disorder: A Review of Current Evidence. J Altern Complement Med. 2018 Aug;24(8):770-780. doi: 10.1089/acm.2018.0001. Epub 2018 Apr 11. PMID: 29641222. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29641222/

  2. viva Romm, Susun S. Weed, Paula Gardiner, Bhaswati Bhattacharya, Clara A. Lennox, Roberta Lee, Wendy Grube, Robin DiPasquale, Margi Flint, David Winston, CHAPTER 19 - Menopausal Health, Botanical Medicine for Women's Health, Churchill Livingstone, 2010, Pages 455-520,ISBN 9780443072772, https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-443-07277-2.00021-0. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/B9780443072772000210

  3. Bian T, Corral P, Wang Y, Botello J, Kingston R, Daniels T, Salloum RG, Johnston E, Huo Z, Lu J, Liu AC, Xing C. Kava as a Clinical Nutrient: Promises and Challenges. Nutrients. 2020 Oct 5;12(10):3044. doi: 10.3390/nu12103044. PMID: 33027883; PMCID: PMC7600512. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/neuroscience/kavalactones

  4. Prinsloo D, van Dyk S, Petzer A, Petzer JP. Monoamine Oxidase Inhibition by Kavalactones from Kava (Piper Methysticum). Planta Med. 2019 Oct;85(14-15):1136-1142. doi: 10.1055/a-1008-9491. Epub 2019 Sep 20. PMID: 31539917. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31539917/

  5. Zhou P, Gross S, Liu JH, Yu BY, Feng LL, Nolta J, Sharma V, Piwnica-Worms D, Qiu SX. Flavokawain B, the hepatotoxic constituent from kava root, induces GSH-sensitive oxidative stress through modulation of IKK/NF-kappaB and MAPK signaling pathways. FASEB J. 2010 Dec;24(12):4722-32. doi: 10.1096/fj.10-163311. Epub 2010 Aug 9. PMID: 20696856; PMCID: PMC2992378. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2992378/



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