It certainly seems that things are getting more and more chaotic all over the world these past few months.Â Although there have been some negative things that have occurred as of late, I have been witnessing more and more signs that movements toward rational, reasonable, compassionate behavior are growing, gaining strength and momentum, and creating very real change.
I am extremely happy to report that this movement towards rationality can be seen more and more clearly in the recent news surrounding kava! Maybe it’s a bit much to say there’s a kava liberation movement – things aren’t quite so organized – but there is definitely a shift happening in the way that people view kava and herbal medicine in general.
To begin with, a few months ago I wrote an article about the Australian Kava Ban and the controversy surrounding it. At the time, a number of indigenous Pacific islanders who live in Australia were getting ready to campaign to have the ban lifted.Â Well, things are getting even more exciting! According to ABC News Australia, a group of Pacific Islanders requested that they be allowed to prepare and serve KavaÂ in a traditional ceremonial manner during the National Multicultural Festival that took place in February.Â However, this request was denied, and police threatened to have anyone caught with kava at the festival arrested and put in jail for up to five years! Unbelievable!
Fortunately, Radio New Zealand tells us that the participants in the movement are consideringÂ legal action in the High Court.Â A spokesperson for the movement, Siousiua Lafitani Tofua’ipangai says that many Pacific people still drink kava in the traditional way in Australia, despite the risk. This is a very clear case of discrimination against an indigenous group of people, their freedom of religion, and their freedom to practice traditional ritual and use traditional medicines.Â My heart goes out to them, and I hope that they bring their lawsuit to the highest possible authorities and win! That would be a tremendous move towards kava regaining proper legal status in Australia!
In other great news, Australian Network News reports that within the next month, scientists from the Pacific will gather at a Kava Symposium in Vanuatu in order to overturn the European Union ban on exporting kava to the region.Â This is going to be the biggest gathering since the EU ban took place ten years ago. The Pacific scientists are planning to prove once and for all that Pacific nations are capable of establishing good quality control systems for kava production.Â If they are able to do this, new kava markets will open up in the South Pacific, and many people will be able to create a better life for themselves and their families!Â Again, this is great news, and a sign that we may be moving towards a better, more rational future when it comes to kava legislation world-wide!
Finally, I stumbled across one more article recently on Natural Standard, a database for medical professionals working with integrative medicine, about the treatment of anxiety. The article is primarily about treating General Anxiety Disorder with exercise, which studies have found to be quite effective (obviously).Â The article then goes on to say that kava “may be as effective as benzodiazepine drugs such as diazepam (Valium). Kava’s effects were reported to be similar to the prescription drug buspirone (Buspar) used for GAD in one study.Â However, there is a concern regarding the potential danger from taking kava based on multiple reports from Europe and the United States that include hepatitis, cirrhosis, and liver failure.”
Now, this is very interesting. First of all, it looks as if some medical professionals are finally admitting that kava is as effective as Valium (which is very dangerous, extremely addictive, and can cause seizures and death)! They’re also comparing kava to buspirone, which is a substance that is becoming more popular in the treatment of anxiety these days. Now, we’ve already talked about this kava health concern a million times – properly prepared kava is no worse for the liver than grapefruit juice, and it’s much safer for the liver than over the counter pain killers. We know kava is definitely safer than Valium, and it’s not addictive, either. Now, let’s look at buspirone!Â Side effects apparently include severe allergic reaction, fainting, fever, new worsening mental, mood, or personality changes, seizures, suicidal thoughts or actions, and unusual restlessness, among others. These all sound like pretty serious side effects, especially for someone suffering from anxiety. And I’ve certainly never heard of anyone experiencing anything like this when taking kava.
This article isn’t the most glowing endorsement of kava, but this is one of the first times I’ve seen my favorite plant compared in such a favorable way to pharmaceutical anti-anxiety medications. With a little extrapolation, it’s quite clear that kava is just as effective AND much safer than these substances.Â It’s exciting to see kava being described in this way by an organization that is clearly intended for medical professional use!
So, despite all the chaos of the past months, I feel overwhelmingly hopeful for the future of kava, and for our future as a planet.Â It seems as if more and more people are starting to behave in a reasonable and sensible manner.Â May this trend continue!