I was having difficulty finding an articles regarding Kava benefits in terms of health and nutrition, so I thought an article here would be appropriate. What I discovered, is that since Kava lost its “food” status (called GRAS) in the early 2000’s, and is only approved for use as a dietary supplement, it became very difficult to find any accurate information on the nutritional value of Kava. Fret not, though, after some serious digging, I have a general idea of Kava Nutritional Content for you to use as a guide.
Serving Size (g)
Something that isn’t often considered with Kava, is it’s fiber content! It is a fibrous root after all, and with that, comes an ample amount of fiber for your diet. Fiber can have many health benefits, young or old. Women typically require about 25 grams of fiber, while men need 38 grams. That’s 8% of your daily fiber intake from a single serving of Kava!
It’s important to remember that Kava is a raw plant product, and because of that, it contains all of the beneficial enzymes that raw food contains! Since Kavalactones break down at such a low temperature (140 degrees Fahrenheit), it’s impossible to pasteurize Kava root in the traditional ways. The benefit is that more of the natural spectrum of beneficial nutrients is left intact.
Another curious discovery by Kava.com when they ran a DNA test on the Kava root they offer on their website, one of the hidden Kava benefits was the fact that one of the components commonly in their root is sold as a probiotic. So, knowing that Kava root can sometimes upset tender tummies, this plant has, at least with their Kava root, built-in tummy protection. How cool is that?
There are definitely 2 distinct categories that the beneficial effects that Kava can have:
- Supplement Benefits
- Psychological Benefits
What I am most interested in (and one of the main reasons I love Kava so much), is the second one; the psychological benefits.
To me, Kava goes far beyond just the Nutritional Value or the numbers on the Supplement Facts. The power of Kava is in the amazing power it has in helping to alleviate stress, reduce anxiety, and as a result, better the quality of life. So, let’s discuss the Psychological Benefits.
Psychological Kava Benefits
This is where Kava really shines. As mentioned above, there are a number of positive benefits from Kava, some not nearly as obvious as others. In Europe, Kava is so safe at helping to calm excitability, that it’s prescribed to children. And, it’s not only great for kids, it’s amazing for adults as well. In Hawaii, it’s used at every major event, from births, to weddings, and even funerals. Hawaiians are known for their gentle nature, their kind hearts, and their smiles. I find it difficult to believe that Kava Kava doesn’t have at least something to do with that.
Speaking of, a discussion about Kava benefits wouldn’t be complete without touching on the stress-relieving properties of this ancient botanical. Kava has an interesting effect on the nervous system; in small amounts, it can cause sleepiness. In large amounts, it can actually cause excitability. But in just the “right” amounts (that margin is a very wide one), Kava offers a calming effect as well as an energizing effect.
What this most often translates into, is a reduction in anxiety levels. In fact, Kava is a very social herb. It’s famous for helping to reduce inhibitions, much like alcohol has been known to do in responsible amounts. It gained a reputation throughout Oceania as both the “Plant of Peace” And the “anti-shyness herb.” And what better way to approach any social situation, than to have our anxiety levels reduced from the outset? We are social by nature.
When we are calmer, our sense of well-being increases.
In fact, the Kava lifestyle is one of peace, of well-being, or sunshine and warm waters. Integrating the ritual of Kava into our lives can have far reaching effects, and the benefits of Kava increase over time. Even the ritual of making a “shell” of Kava forces us to slow down, to connect with the plant, to take a little break from the stress of our day.
Something else that is rarely discussed, is that Kava has been known to reduce dependency on pharmaceutical-based anti-anxiety medication. I’m making making any claims that Kava has any interaction with pharmaceutical medications, but what I am saying is that I know a number of people and customers who were prescribed all kinds of medications, from Ativan to Prozac to Trazodone and others.
Some had insomnia, some had anxiety, whether it was personal or social anxiety. And every one of them either switched from their pharmaceutical medications and never looked back. Or, they tried Kava before signing onto a prescription, and never looked back. To me, that is astounding data!
I’m also not implying that Kava benefits everyone. It’s certainly not for everyone, and not everyone can get past the earthy, peppery taste. (Although I have come to savor it.) But the fact that a natural herbal remedy is available worldwide for anyone to try is one of the main reasons I’m in the Kava business.
Yes, the Kava benefits are many. And in closing, I wanted to mention of my favorite hidden benefits of Kava: A number of countries in the South Pacific have very low cancer incidence.
According to a study called “The correlation between cancer incidence and kava consumption“, it states that in spite of a high percentage of people who smoke, cancer incidence in countries such as Vanuatu and Fiji experience lower than usual incidences of cancer. This study compares the cancer incidence for a number of Pacific Island Nations with local kava consumption. The results and conclusions fdrawn from that study?
The data indicates that the more kava consumed by a population the lower the cancer incidence for that population. The data suggests there is a close inverse relationship between cancer incidence and kava consumption.
Wow! Kava is a dietary supplement and not a pharmaceutical medication, so no claims can be made in relation to possible its cancer-fighting powers. But it is intriguing. It’s also a leap, but knowing that stress is the #1 killer worldwide, if Kava helps reduce the overall stress in one’s life, creating a sense of well-being, isn’t it possible that one of the benefits of Kava might well have an influence on the incidence of cancer rates?
To me, it’s worth a few shells of Kava every so often!
Further Reading (a few of the Kava articles I’ve authored):
- False Alarm- Kava Not Toxic to Liver
- Article on Kava Kava Benefits
- The Botany of Kava Kava
- Safety and Benefits of Kava-Kava
- Does Kava Have a Spiritual Side?
- Kava Experience – Hawaiian Hiwa
- Combining Kava and Cannabis
- The Definitive Kava Beginner’s Guide
- Ezine Authors – Makaira Kealoha
- Kava Article Table of Contents – Kava.com