Kava Kava (Piper methysticum) is a traditional Polynesian herb from the root of the kava tree (called waka). Herbalists use it for its mild tranquilizing effect to relax the mind and bring clarity to thoughts while soothing the temperament and inducing a mild euphoria. It is considered a natural aphrodisiac that has the effect of directly increasing sexual desire and prowess and even increasing the intensity of the sensations felt during orgasm. Kava is an approved phytomedicine in Europe used to treat anxiety and can be used in aphrodisiac formulas as a nervine to produce an effect similar to a mild herbal ecstasy.
Kava is an ancient western Pacific crop related to the black pepper – both having heart-shaped leaves and flowers similar to the flower spike of the anthurium. Kava also has a peppery taste, and has long been part of religious, political and cultural life throughout the Pacific region. The drink was the beverage of choice for the South Pacific royal families. It is believed to have originated in Melanesia, and grows abundantly in the sunny Polynesian islands. Drank for hundreds of years by native islanders, it was only during Captain Cook’s voyage to the Pacific in 1768-1771 that the white man first encountered the plant and its consumption in sacred ceremonies. According to his account, natives would chew or pound the root and mix it with water to produce a brownish, often bitter brew which they then consumed for its psychoactive properties.
In the Western world, kava is used as an herbal remedy to ease symptoms of anxiety, stress and depression. The effects of drinking kava include slight tongue and lip numbing due to the contraction of blood vessels in these areas, milk talkative and euphoric behavior, calming, a sense of well-being, clear thinking and relaxed muscles. Sleep is restful and there are no after-effects the next day.
Kava has also interestingly been employed by the military in Fiji to aid in vigilance and anxiety reduction, to provide concentration and focus, to provide muscle control before sports and music performances, to reduce anxiety associated with public speaking and other public performances, and in corporate meetings to aid in mental clarity, sociability and improved decision making.
Contrary to coffee, alcohol, and many pharmaceuticals, Kava is known to be non-addictive, and to have no tolerance buildup. Medical literature sometimes claims it has a "potential for addiction" because "it produces mild euphoria and relaxation". In a traditional setting, a moderately potent kava drink causes effects within 20–30 minutes that last for about two and a half hours, but can be felt for up to eight hours. Because of this, it is recommended to space out servings about fifteen minutes apart. Some report longer term effects up to two days after ingestion, including a feeling of mental clarity, patience, and an ease of acceptance. The effects of kava are most often compared to alcohol, or a large dose of diazepam.
The sensations, in order of appearance, are slight tongue and lip numbing (the lips and skin surrounding may appear unusually pale); mildly talkative and sociable behavior; clear thinking; calmness; relaxed muscles; and a sense of well-being. As with other drugs that affect the GABA receptors, there can also be paradoxical dysphoria. The numbing of the mouth is caused by the two kavalactones kavain and dihydrokavain which cause the contraction of the blood vessels in these areas acting as a local topical anesthetic. These anesthetics can also make one's stomach feel numb. Sometimes this feeling has been mistaken for nausea. Some report that caffeine, consumed moderately in conjunction with kava can significantly increase mental alertness.
The effects of a kava drink vary widely with the particular selection of kava plant(s) and amount. A potent drink results in a faster onset with a lack of stimulation; the user's eyes become sensitive to light; they soon become somnolent and then have deep, dreamless sleep within 30 minutes. Sleep is often restful and there are pronounced periods of sleepiness correlating to the amount and potency of kava consumed. Unlike with alcohol-induced sleep, after wakening the drinker does not experience any mental or physical after effects. However, this sleep has been reported as extremely restful and the user often wakes up more stimulated than he or she normally would (though excessive consumption of exceptionally potent brew has been known to cause pronounced sleepiness into the next day). Although heavy doses can cause deep dreamless sleep, it is reported that many people experience lighter sleep and rather vivid dreams after drinking moderate amounts of kava.
For a good reason, Kava Kava is known as the “anti-shyness” herb. One of the many amazing benefits of kava, is that it can be so relaxing without drowsiness, putting one in a more open and comfortable state, quite conducive to both initiating conversation with a potential partner or with a long time lover. It also can increase a sense of euphoria, without losing any of your wits or your faculties as alcohol so often can.
Kava can have a direct stimulating effect on the sexual organs if consumed in somewhat larger quantities. Some users attest that they experience a tingling feeling in the genitalia, when taking Kava.