Kava Root for Relaxation: Nature’s Anxiety Medication
Kava Root for Relaxation: Today we will be exploring a natural medicine that has often been referred to as ‘nature’s Xanax’ for its powerful ability to reduce anxiety and promote sleep (among other benefits). Learn why kava might be the solution to your overthinking mind, and a great alternative to unwind at the end of the day without the use of alcohol or pharmaceutical drugs.
Kava Root for Relaxation: What is Kava?
Kava is a root native to the South Pacific Islands, harvested from kava (Piper methysticum) shrub. A member of the pepper family, kava, has long been used as a medicinal and psychotropic beverage to the natives of the South Pacific.
Benefits of Kava
Kava is linked to a wide range of benefits for stress-relief and deep sleep. Despite its relaxing properties, kava also has the advantage of inducing alertness in mind— a sort of mellow clarity that does not contain any caffeine. Like coffee, kava is considered a nootropic, which is a substance that benefits cognitive function and has neuroprotective properties. Kava also has analgesic properties that can help alleviate pain.
Kava Root for Relaxation: Anxiety and Depression
One of the most well scientifically supported applications for the use of kava is its ability to reduce anxiety. In one clinical trial, kava extract beat out two anti-anxiety drugs (opipramol and buspirone), without the side effects of pharmaceutical drugs.
By activating the GABA pathways, kava produces a calming effect on the body. It also keeps serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine levels high, which counteract the sensations of anxiety and depression.
Kava Root for Relaxation: Sleep Disorders
Kava root can promote relaxation without cognitive impairment, meaning that although it relaxes, it does not sedate. It is often used as a part of a bedtime ritual to promote deep sleep.
Kava promotes deep sleep by blocking sodium and calcium ion levels, which increases GABA, noradrenaline, and dopamine. In short, kavas ability to relax and calm anxiety has been shown to support sleep in those who have insomnia.
Kava Root for Relaxation: Depression
Although the bulk of evidence highlights kavas ability to reduce anxiety, preliminary studies also suggest it may also reduce symptoms of depression. One study highlighted kavas ability to drastically reduce depression in 60 participating adults, at a dose of 250 mg kavalactones a day (consumed as five supplemental tablets daily) for three weeks.
Studies suggest that kava can support women through menopause, in reducing a wide range of premenopausal symptoms. By activating GABA pathways, increasing dopamine, and inhibiting oxidase-B, kava improved anxiety, irritability, depression, and insomnia in perimenopausal and menopausal women.
Various small studies highlight kava’s ability to boost brain performance, including visual processing, working memory, word recognition, and attention. Kava is indeed classified as a nootropic and used mindfully; it can promote brain health. It does so by activating kava pyrones in the brain (located in the hippocampus and amygdala); however, overuse or high doses can lead to a reduction in motor function.
Kava Root for Relaxation: How Does it Work?
The two main compounds produced in kava are kavalpyrones (also known as kavalactones) and chalcones. Kavalpyrones (which include methysticin, dihydrokavain, yangonin, dihydromethysticin, and kavain) produce muscular relaxation and calming effect thanks to the influence on various neurotransmitters including GABA, dopamine, and serotonin.
When GABA pathways are activated, a sedative and anti-anxiety effect ensues. Chalcones (like flavokawain A, B, and C) have been linked to antioxidant, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer effects.
Traditionally, kava is consumed by pounding the peeled roots into a powder and then drinking it as a tea made with lukewarm water. Although it wasn’t sweetened traditionally, the root has quite a potent unfavorable taste and is generally then mixed with honey or another sweetener in modern times. This native drink was consumed regularly without restriction, but modern kava products are made in a wide range of potencies, which need to be considered when dosing.
There is no official dosage recommendation for kava. Still, the American Botanical Council advises 60 to 120 mg of kavapyrones as a safe and potentially effective range consumed for up to three months.
New kava products include root extract, capsules, powder, teas, tinctures, and concentrated pastes. Teas yield the mildest effect, as does whole-root powders and pills. As soon as kava is extracted or concentrated in a paste, it becomes much stronger. Consuming according to the label and working with a qualified practitioner is the best way to ensure your body interacts optimally with kava root, without any unwanted side effects.
Kava Root for Relaxation: Kavaplex
Kavaplex is a kava-based supplement that was specially devised to help a friend taper off his pharmaceutical dependence on benzodiazepines. Benzo’s are a class of psychoactive drugs that act as a depressant, slowing down the central nervous system, which results in reduced anxiety, and improved sleep. Cameron’s journey with these drugs yielded a host of side effects, and he knew that nature had to serve up a better option to his symptoms.
Cameron explored kava for its natural anxiety-reducing effects and was able to stop taking benzodiazepine within months completely. This shift was profound and immediate, and he was able to get these same results without the pharmaceutical side effects.
Noone on the market had produced a kava supplement that contains a full spectrum of the plant. Therefore, Cameron had to do it himself. The primary reason for Kavaplex was to create a tailored and bioavailable dose that was palatable. The taste of kava often turns people off the root because it has a chance to work. Having experienced its power first hand, Cameron knew that this product had to be taken to the masses, and Kavaplex was born.
Kavaplex comes from a kava strain in Vanuatu called Borogu and is made without high heat. This pristine kava oil isn’t denatured and can be taken in doses of up to four to eight droppers full if you want to go to take it to the next level. The oil can be consumed directly under the tongue for the highest bioavailability or blended into a drink like coffee or a smoothie.
You can order Kavaplex here!
Side Effects/ Precautions
Studies in the 1990s linked kava root to severe liver toxicity, a label it has had a hard time shedding over the years. The problem isn’t clear, for the Pacific islanders that have heavily consume kava for centuries have no sign of these side effects. Some suggest that the toxicity came from a chemical-based extraction method, rather than the natural water-based extraction that the natives would use. Still, others highlight the fact that only the root should be used for extracts and teas since the kava leaves are considered toxic to humans (burdening the liver). However, the water extraction method also contains glutathione, a potent liver supporting antioxidant.
Due to these precautions, it is suggested that kava be avoided during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Anyone with a history of liver disease or with the gene polymorphism cytochrome P450 may also have a more difficult time metabolizing kava and should be mindful of that. As a herbal medicine, it also interacts with other plants and medicines, so if you’re taking any medications or herbal supplements, best check with a qualified practitioner before incorporating kava into your diet.
You can order Kavaplex here!
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