When we deal with the everyday stresses that come with life, many look for ways to enjoy some relaxation. Found in the Hawaiian and Pacific Island cultures, an interesting method for achieving such calming effects has been used for centuries. These cultures have long enjoyed the effects of a root known as Kava. (Other names it is known by are: ‘awa, ava, yogana, and keu.)
The earthy concoction has been made for generations by extracting the root’s sedative and anesthetic properties and diluting them with water. Kavalactones, an ingredient found in the kava root, are said to be psychoactive, creating the desired relaxing effects. The overall feeling is that of calm, without losing mental clarity.
Kava has been used throughout the Pacific Islands for medicinal, religious, political, and social purposes that are usually wrapped in legends and ceremonious traditions. It is prepared by pounding the kava root into a powder and then wrapping it in a cheese cloth that is steeped in cold or lukewarm water, similar to making tea. The mixture is then poured into a halved coconut bowl to be sipped.
Today, many “kava bars” still exist on the islands where people frequent to enjoy relaxation and socialize with others. The root extract is also now made widely available in various forms, such as pills and droplets, however, these are not traditional forms.
While the effects of kava are ideal, there are still some questions regarding its safety and some countries have even banned its use. Although there is a lot to still be learned about using the kava root as a natural relaxer, it will remain a historical method of achieving a state of peace and tranquility that will undoubtedly live on within the island cultures for generations to come.