It seems to have become common knowledge
for the global citizen to appreciate that Chinese and Japanese
cultures center around a national beverage such as tea, that
the French are famous for their wines and champagne, and that
the Scots make excellent whiskey. And yet it appears only now
that kava, a sacred drink to many Pacific Islanders, has come
onto the world stage. Why is this the case?
Perhaps we can first start
to look at some of kava's remarkable attributes, and a little
on its background...
Anecdotal information on
common uses of kava:
Great for parties or
meetings. A sense
of sociability and relaxedness towards oneself and others comes
about with kava. Its said one cannot hate with kava.
Perform better. Performing artists, students taking
tests, public speakers, and other who engage in performance-based
activities do better with kava. Clinical studies have shown that
memory, concentration, and mental clarity are enhanced.
Quit a habit. Kava relieves the anxiety associated
with withdrawl symptoms of addictive drugs like smoking, alcohol,
etc. Kava eases the transition of going cold turkey.
Traditionally kava was also used as an aid to lose weight as
it was used as an appetite suppressant. And kava is non-addictive.
Be creative. Kava helps bring about an alert,
playful, and relaxed state of mind that are the precursors of
Therapeutic Uses of Kava:
Anxiolytic (relieves anxiety
Skeletal muscle relaxant
Calmative in mild insomnia
Neuroprotective in cerebral
ischemia (e.g., protects against certain strokes)
Is Kava Safe?
The safety and efficacy
of kava has been established in numerous clinical trials and
The American Herbal Products
Association has issued a detailed review attesting to the safety
E has issued a positive therapeutic monograph on kava
Kava has been used in
a traditional context by thousands of people with no evidence
of toxic or deleterious effects
Kava is non-toxic under
normal conditions of use is not stupifying, does not cause addiction
Any substance can be abused;
kava is safer than alcohol, prescription tranquilizers, and coffee.
Preparing Kava for Consumption:
instructions using kava root powder
1. Measure your kava root powder to one tablespoon powder for
each cup (8 ounces) of warm (not boiling) water. Please note
that for concentration there is no hard and fast rule, some people
like it more dilute, and some like it stronger.
2. Add the measured kava root powder into a sieve, close the
end(s) & massage in the water for about 10 minutes or until
the sieve no longer feels greasy.
3. Cool, drink the liquid.
Optional: To keep longer, store in the refridgerator
(up to about a week if good clean water was used) or in the freezer.
For maximum effectiveness,
kava should be taken before meals or on an empty stomach.
The mouth and tongue will
temporarily become slightly numb
when prepared correctly. Traditionally, the drink is not
savored but rather gulped down because of the bitter taste. Adding
honey and cinnamon to taste can mask the rooty flavor.
Reusable nylon Painters
Sieve can be purchased at City Mill (Hawaii). The cost there
is about $3 for five sieves. K-Mart & and Longs sell short
white nylon stocking by L'eggs for about $2 for three pairs (six
socks). Also a cheese cloth works. Jonathan's favorite is to
use a silk screen (made of polyester) - no. 6 seems to work fine.
Much literature is available
on kava. Some references include Kava: The Pacific Elixer
by Vincent Lebot, Ph.D. et al.; Kava: The Miracle Antianxiety
Herb by Ray Sahelian, M.D.; Hawaiian Herbs of Medicinal
Value (translated) by Akaiko Akana.
Varieties of Hawaiian kava. Pre-contact Hawaiians seemed to have developed
or perpetuated over 14 cultivars of Piper methysticum
(perhaps a sterile derivative of Piper wichmanii). Hawaiians also refer to kava as awa.
at seven months from time of cutting.
Copyright © 2000 Hawaiian Kava Center.
All rights reserved.
The following list of Hawaiian
kava cultivars are from the references of [Akana, Lebot], and
the author's personal talks with other Hawaiian farmers:
Apu: Short internodes and green stems.
See also Möï.
Hanakäpïai: Dark, long, spotted stems. Internodes
have somewhat more green than the Spotted-Hiwa. Found
at Hanakäpïai, Kauai. Also called Nënë
Honokaneiki. First discovered in Honokaneiki
valley. Green with small dark spots.
Hiwa: Long internodes and dark green
Keo keo: "Whitish in general appearance
and more commonly found than the others". [Not verified.]
Kümakua: Tall shrub with green internodes.
Also known as Puna Green.
Lauae a Käne: This shrub resembles in every
way the ülei (Osteomeles anthylidifolia).
Its fragrant flowers are whitish yellow; its leaves are somewhat
thick, having a disagreeable odor. [Not verified.]
Mäkea (aka Mahakea): Long internodes
and stems of a lighter green than Apu and with reddish color
at the nodes.
Mamaka: Short internodes and light green
stems. [Not verified.]
Möï: Short, dark-green internodes
and whitish nodes. There's apparently a green type as well, which
some refer to as the Apu.
Mokihana: The leaves are like those of
the mäkea. Its internodes are short and stubby. Its odor
is somewhat fragrant, hence the name "mokihana," the
famous fragrant berry of Kauai. It is a very powerful drink.
It is sometimes called "Ka awa kau laau"
because the birds take its stems to their nests in trees where
the plant grows and roots are exposed to light. [Not verified,
but reputed a example is kept in under observation at an HKC
Nënë (aka kuaea): Long
internodes; general appearance somewhat spotted with a bumpy
bark and trunk. In general appearance, the spots resemble the
Papa: Prostrate appearance; short internodes;
spotted stems. [Not verified.]
Papa eleele: Probably a dark (eleele)
mutant of papa.
Papa kea: Like papa eleele
as to internodes and appearance but with a light green stalk.
SIG (Short internode
green). As name
describes with a light green piko. Also known as Panaewa.
Spotted Hiwa. Similar to Hanakäpïai
but with darker stems.
Hawaiian Kava Center welcomes
corrections or additions to the list of Hawaiian kava cultivars.
If you would like to contribute to the renewed and growing knowledge
base of Hawaiian kava, please
Other FAQs on kava
Is it necessary to strain
the fiber from the kava beverage? Tongan, Samoan and Fijian friends, who have a unbroken
chain of kava drinking in their families, consider it to be important
that kava be strained or filtered of fiber when prepared into
a beverage. A few other experienced drinkers feel the same way.
The belief is that the fiber can cause nausea. One way to remove
the fiber is to use a silk screen (used in making printed t-shirts,
etc.). A nice size is about 20"x20".
Is taking kava safe
while pregnant? We
are not aware of any reported problems or difficulties experienced
with kava while hapai. However, see your physician for medical
advice, and ask them if they know anything about kava. We believe
a good physician is one who also understands herbs and other
complementary medical treatments that are undeniably effective,
i.e., a "blended" medicine approach.
What makes Hawaiian
awa so special? Hawaii's
awa are all excellent. Their general distinguishing characteristic
is the predominance of kavain - a highly desired kavalactone,
and the generally higher potency as compared with other Pacific
island cultivars. In addition, because of Hawaii's modern
transportation and communication infrastructure, and knowledge
and use of advanced agricultural methods, the highest quality
kava, both fresh and dried, is now under production.
100% Kona coffee is
gourmet quality, and we believe that 100% Hawaiian kava will also be noted for such distinction of excellence (as soon
as everybody in Hawai'i nei can grow more of it). When thinking
of things Hawaiian, you will find excellence, the 100's of varieties
of kalo, the awe-inspiring feather capes meticulously created,
etc., and the love and understanding Hawaiians have for people,
land, and the cosmos. This is the culture that has produced the Hawaiian
cultivars we have today.
Mahalo nui loa for visiting
and shopping at Hawaiian Kava Center!
Hawaiian Kava Center,
PO Box 26344
Board Member, `Awa Development
Copyright © 1995-2006 Hawaiian Kava Center, LLC. All rights reserved.