Kava Varieties Effects And Chemistry

Dried Vs Fresh

Unfortunately for folks living in the United States and other countries, all we can get our hands on is dried and powdered Kava. As a result, the psychoactive properties that this intoxicating root produces are much less intense than the fresh root used by cultures of the pacific islands. For a while there, the folks at Bouncing Bear Botanicals had live Kava plants for sale. Sadly, due to some unfortunate circumstances they were forced to stop growing and selling them. It remains legal in the USA, yet the plants their-selves are guarded by the islanders due to its great economic value. It's a major cash crop for the people who live on the islands of the pacific.

A Wide Range Of Varying Effects

Kava comes in many different strengths, and many different forms, and with many different types of effects. All of these psychoactive properties are generally the same yet a little different, being that were talking about the same plant here. It can be thought of sorta like Cannabis or Kratom, and their many varieties. Sometimes it produces more of a sedative body buzz, while other times it may be more of a stimulating head buzz. I speak from experience when I say this. There is some scientific inquiry into this topic though, and i'll cite some evidence to support this in the next paragraph.

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"Smith(1983) compared two kava cultivars from Fiji. One was called black, the other white. Demethoxy-yangonin, and kavain were found in small quantities in the black cultivar, yet only in trace amounts in the white cultivar."(Lebot, Merlin, Lindstrom 1997 74) What this means is one cultivar has higher concentrations of a certain alkaloid than the other. If this was so in these two cultivars, then it certainly should be so in other varities of the plant throughout the islands. This makes sense when explaining the various effects that this plant can produce when harvested in different fashions and from different islands.

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What Being Intoxicating From Kava Like?

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I prefer the sedative body buzz type. It produces a euphoria and a sense of well-being. Muscles are relaxed, skin feels soft and smooth, the mind calms down to a slow and coherent level. One feels extra prone to sociability. A warm comforting sensation permeates the body. You feel baptized by the drink. It feels like it smells. The scent will remind you of a perfect day on the beach, lying in a hammock, smelling the scent of the ocean air, while feeling the soft and gentle embrace of the sand beneath your feet. As the drinking of the brew continues, so too does your level of intoxication. Unlike alcohol, I've not noticed any hang over effects. It's no wonder why the islanders have banned alcohol while making Kava their recreational drink of choice.

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Preparation factors can effect potency.

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Many people are unaware that the methods used to prepare the Kava have a great impact on the potency of the over all product. Many phytochemicals produced by plants are sensitive to light, heat, and age. Certain alkaloids are not soluble in water, while others are. So there are a large number of factors that can affect the over all results one gets from consuming this sacred intoxicating plant. Below I will share with you some valuable information regarding these statements.


"Steinmetz (1960) was the first person to make it well known that the psychoactive impact it can produce in the user greatly depends on the degree of separation in water of the resinous active ingredients. Mastication converts rootstock mass into very small particles which releases the resin stored in the cell tissues. The active alkaloids in these resins, insoluble in water, become available after this emulsification."(Lebot, Merlin, Lindstrom 1997 57) Consider this if you're buying whole Kava root instead of the powdered version. I'm not saying that it's less potent or not as good, but when prepared, the finer the powder, the better the brew.

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I like to use it in many fashions, typically prepared in a cold water drink like the traditional cultures prepared it. Another way to prepare it is to make a tincture out of it, and then evaporate the alcohol, leaving you with a resin. This resin can then be added to cold water to make a tea. High proof everclear is great for extracting as many compounds as possible, resulting in a very potent extraction. You don't want to use any kind of weak liquor tho like Vodka or something that's less than 75%.

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Chemistry And Pharmacology
Most people think of Kavalactones when they hear the title "kava". Kavalactones refers to a large number of compounds though. Kava is a very complex pharmacological treasure, and it contains a large number of phytochemical compounds. Many of these most people have never heard of. They all do their own thing, and this means that they should all be considered.

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Chemical constituents of Piper methysticum


Kavain, 7,8-Dihydrokavain, 5,6-Dehydrokavain, Yangonin, 5,6,7,8-Tetrahydroyangonin, Methysticin, Dihydromethysticin, 5,6-Dehydromethysticin, 5,6-Dihydroyangonin, 7,8-Dihydroyangonin, 10-Methoxy-yangonin, 11-Methoxy-yangonin, 11-Hydroxy-yangonin, Hydroxykavain, 11-Methoxy-12-hydroxy-dehydrokavain.(Lebot, Merlin, Lindstrom 1997 64,65)

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