Piper methysticum (Vanuatu)
Bitter golden chunky nectar, a popular extract for social gatherings – This CO2 extracted Kava Kava extract is super potent and caution should be warranted if taking internally.
– hypnotic (stress-induced insomnia)
– local anesthetic
– mood elevating
– muscle relaxant
– sedative (mild)
– social lubricant
Dr. Nick Notes
Native to the islands of the South Pacific, Hawaii, Polynesia, Melanesia, and Micronesia, Kava Kava or Piper methysticum has been a prominent part of indigenous culture since before written history. Kava is a perennial shrub with smooth leaves shaped like hearts and a member of the pepper family. Traditionally, the roots are used and a group of compounds known as kavalactones are extracted into room temperature aqueous solution to make a beverage.
The effects can be described as mildly euphoric, with increased sociability and desire for conversation, preserved or enhanced mental clarity, and relaxation at lower doses while becoming sedating at higher doses. A hangover effect, visual disturbances, and insightfully vivid dreams have been reported with higher doses. If using Kava for recreational purposes, moderation of dosing and respect for the sacrament, as well as thorough enjoyment of good company is recommended.
Kava is fantastic for anxiety, depression, or insomnia; Kava lifts and heightens mood considerably! There has been some concern over liver damage although appears to be a preventable complication (see Tips for Safe Use below). Prized traditionally for spiritual worth, Kava is an ethnopharmacologic wonder of the world!
~ What Not to Do ~
As an experiment, I decided to consume far too much kava kava CO2 extract to see what the side effects are so I can recommend what NOT to do for others. Using a pipette, I lapped up several mL at a time over the course of an hour and a half until I consumed what I estimate to be about 20 grams. At about 5 grams, I felt light as a feather, similar to a buzzy clear headed stupor absolutely elevated. As I pushed my dose, acute awareness shifted into lackadaisical dreaminess ~ my body got dry and I tasted like a kava factory. Walking around the house, I head off into bed where I flew into slumber very quickly.
Upon awaking 7 hours later, I stood up and walked toward my doorway and almost fell over – I was unable to walk straight and felt just as euphoric as the night before. I stumbled to shower, dress and get ready for the early morning Hawaiian market and took a nap after setup. There is definitely a right & wrong way to work with this extract. Toxicity is present in kava consumption at larger doses. The end of a toothpick is pleasurable (0.05 – .1 gram?) and I’ll play with a favorable consumption range when my aversion to Kava disappears.
How to Use
This CO2 extract is potent and contains considerably higher amounts of kavalactones (60%) than traditional brews thus only small amounts are needed. Try a small dab (size of Q tip head) using a toothpick directly into the mouth for social gatherings or altered state of consciousness. May take in the evening or at bedtime to aid in sleep. A few dabs may be placed in a teapot of hot water if friends are partaking – some of the alkaloid content may be affected with hot water.
Tips for Safe Kava Use (avoidance of liver damage):
- Kava extracts have been shown to cause liver damage in case reports although appears preventable with proper liver antioxidant capacity in the form of glutathione.
- Foods known to support glutathione production include sulfur-rich foods such as garlic, onions and the cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, kale, collards, cabbage, cauliflower, watercress etc.)
- Exercise facilitates glutathione production as well as decreases stress – an added and complementary benefit if using kava for stress or anxiety reduction.
- Glutathione supplements are also available, although holistic lifestyle changes are encouraged as first-line options.
- Avoid with alcohol use (prolonged prior to or concomitantly), acetaminophen (Tylenol), or other hepatotoxic drugs which can deplete glutathione and increase risk of liver injury. Avoid with pre-existing liver conditions.
- Current illness, elderly age, and low physical activity are associated with glutathione deficiency, thus exercise caution of kava extract if this applies to you.
Notes: CO2 extract
Kavalactones (major): methysticin, dihydromethysticin, kavain, dihydrokavain, demethoxyyangonin, and yangonin
~ Be Blessed ~
- Kilham C. Kava, an Ethnomedical Review. U-Mass Teaching Notes 2000-2005. 2006. Erowid.org/plants/kava/kava_article1.shtml
- Sarris J, LaPorte E, Schweitzer I. Kava: a comprehensive review of efficacy, safety, and psychopharmacology. AustHYPERLINK “http://0-www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.library.touro.edu/pubmed/?term=Kava%3A+a+comprehensive+review+of+efficacy%2C+safety%2C+and+psychopharmacology” N Z J Psychiatry. 2011 Jan;45(1):27-35. doi: 10.3109/00048674.2010.522554. Epub 2010 Nov 15.