Uses for Kava Kava

If you have had the chance to visit Hawaii or one of the other islands in the South Pacific, there's a good chance you've come in contact with kava kava. Kava is such an ingrained part of life in the Pacific Islands that even the Christian missionaries who tried to ban its use were entirely unsuccessful. At Kona Kava Farm, we are well-acquainted with the many uses of kava kava. We're a family-run farm, and we want to share the wonderful and beneficial effects of kava with all of you.

Understanding the importance of kava kava involves at least a surface-level understanding of the peoples who use it. Kava kava was originally used only by priests and tribal leaders. Its properties were so revered, however, that it became widely used throughout all the Pacific Island nations. As social rules changed after European contact, the protocols surrounding kava use were relaxed in many South Pacific societies. Sometimes this happened with the blessing of rulers such as King Kamehameha II of Hawaii, who decided in the 1800s that commoners should have access to kava.

In the traditional cultures and indigenous areas where it grows, kava kava is largely used as a celebratory drink. It marks celebratory events such as weddings, public festivals, and holidays; it is even used in ceremonies honoring the dead, as well as other religious and political rituals.

The informal uses for kava kava have remained much the same in the South Pacific: indigenous islanders like to get together in the nakamal -- or "place of peace" -- in the evenings to drink kava, relax, and socialize with old friends and new visitors; and these days, that often includes Western tourists.

Communal kava drinking is still an essential element of social bonding in the South Pacific, although the activities surrounding the drink have changed somewhat: while in the past, islanders may have gathered around campfires to tell stories long into the night, these days locals often follow up the kava brew with spicy snacks while watching televised soccer or other Western sports.

Many people find other uses for kava kava. It is interesting to note that kava has been shown to help manage daily stress and support cognitive performance, short-term memory, and healthy mood changes*. Kava is used by athletes as well as businessmen to help "take the edge off" and focus*. Additionally, modern forms of kava such as kava extract, capsules, and kavalactone paste greatly expand the possible uses for kava kava. Rather than go through the long process of brewing kava from scratch, which can take up an entire evening, one can quickly take a kava capsule or extract before a situation where a calm and focused mood is required*.

As you might expect for a plant with such a long history in the South Pacific, indigenous islanders have found uses for kava kava that are just catching on in the West. For instance, kava is becoming known as a potential natural aphrodisiac for its ability to support a relaxed mood*. Another indigenous use for kava involves chewing the kava root, although this method of consumption has yet to be embraced by Westerners. Some locals even use brewed kava as a kind of peppery mouthwash!

Here at Kona Kava Farm, we grow only the highest-quality cultivar of kava, the Mahakea strain, and we take great pains to dry it as gently as possible so that it retains its potency. If you'd like to try some, just place an order through our website. We've got plenty of recipes to share, so feel free to browse or contact us for more information!

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to cure, treat, diagnose, or prevent any disease.