eastern medicine

have a kava

Has anyone out there, with or without a chronic illness, ever tried Kava?

In case you’re suddenly staring puzzled at your computer screen, I’ll back up. Kava is a herb first consumed by Pacific Islanders over 3,000 years ago. Traditionally, the root of the Kava plant is pulverized into a fine powder and mixed into a milky drink or tea. In recent years people began consuming kava as a capsule, extract, or even a paste.

kava collage

So why take Kava at all, you ask? Well, Kava is known to reduce anxiety, promote relaxation, and some even claim it has sedative properties and can numb certain parts of your body. I can’t say that I’ve ever had a major reaction to Kava in any form, but I do find I’m a bit more at ease after I take it. Some days it allows me to put off taking pain medicine for an hour or so. As my pain goes up my body become more tense, and the same is true of the other way around. If the Kava helps me loosen up, it may not minimize my pain the way narcotics do, but I will be able to put off (or even completely eliminate) that cycle of pain –> tension –> more pain.

I first tried Kava a little over a year ago. Although I immediately enjoyed it, after about a month I stopped taking it for reasons I can’t remember. Recently, however, it has made a resurgence.  A cafe which offers the herb opened up between my home and where I work, and I pass it at least four times a day. In the window it says “KAVA” in huge, bright lettering right next to “JUICES” and “TEA.” I had never seen Kava offered anywhere, and never even considered the possibility that a local establishment might carry this herb I order online. I’m not sure if reading “Kava” each time I passed the cafe is what encouraged me to start taking it again, but I’m thinking it’s highly likely.

So this week I finally visited the cafe for the first time. The place itself is quite…unique; it’s a cafe by day with a cute bookshelf and customers on computers working like they are at a Starbucks. By night, however, they host bands, other forms of live entertainment, and you can, apparently, rent out space for rituals. Talk about full service! It took me a while to go in because I knew that I wasn’t their typical customer. Maybe I can pull it off in my one pair of ripped jeans and a basic white tee, but it seems that every time I have a moment to go in I’m wearing a pink brocade dress or d’Orsay flats, skinny pants, and a flowy top. I asked my sister who is way cooler than me to accompany me one day, and she laughed but understood what I meant.

But being the brave person that I am I ventured into the cafe alone! I ordered an iced chai with almond milk and purchased three bars of Kava dark chocolate. The iced chai was delicious, and although Kava has a distinctive taste it was completely masked in the drink. The chocolate bars, on the other hand, were the opposite. Granted, I’ve only had one nibble, but it was like taking a bite of pure Kava. Since I’m not a big fan of that taste I didn’t enjoy the chocolate. Thankfully, the drink was delicious and not only cooled me off on a brutally hot and humid New Orleans day but also relaxed me just as my pain was reaching that stage when I need a pain pill but really don’t want to take one just yet.

My hope is that one day I find that sweet spot of non-narcotics to get me through the day. Maybe some Kava, my TENS unit, a vitamin and mineral-dense drink, and some other device or not scary medication will be the key! Until then, I’m just going to keep reading, and learning, and trying anything and everything that I can get my hands on (that is legal, and safe, and all that other good stuff, of course). And then I’ll blog about it and make mistakes so the that you, my lovely readers, don’t have to.



So, while I hate saying this, I feel that I must. Before trying or using Kava it’s important to speak to your doctor, particularly if you are pregnant, nursing, taking other medication, or have liver problems. Excessive or improper consumption of Kava can result in unanticipated consequences. This post is purely anecdotal and has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The intent is not to cure, treat, diagnose, or prevent any disease or condition. My experiences taking Kava are purely my own and may differ from that of another.



Images courtesy of Mountain Rose Herbs, Inc.

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