What is kavalactone?

Kavalactones are the main psychoactive components of kava roots. Kava is a shrub commonly found on some Pacific islands. The rhizome and roots of the shrub are ground up, grated and steeped in water to produce a non-alcoholic drink which is used for better sociability, mental clarity and reduced anxiety. The quantity and ratio of kavalactones vary dramatically and are the greatest when roots are extracted in solvents rather than by conventional preparation of kava tea.

Where is it found?

Kavalactone is found in the kava plant, which primarily grows on some Pacific Ocean islands. The kava industry has long been a major source of revenue for many people in this region. Kava has been a central part of religious, political and cultural life throughout the Pacific for centuries.



What is it used for?

Kava (and thus kavalactones) has long been used as an herbal remedy to treat symptoms of anxiety, stress and depression.

The effects of drinking kava as a tea, in order of sensation, are slight numbing of the tongue and lips caused by the contraction of blood vessels in these areas; mildly talkative and generally euphoric behavior; calming, sense of well-being, clear thinking; and muscle relaxation. Sleep is often restful and there are generally no after-effects the following day. In some countries, it is common for strong kava to be consumed followed by a hot meal or tea. Eating after kava is said to make it “kick,” causing the effects to be felt a second or third time. Some people report vivid dreams following consumption of kava.

How is it taken?

Kavalactones are often consumed through preparing kava as an herbal tea, prepared by straining a mixture of water and shredded, pounded, dried root and/or stump. The plant may also be chewed as part of this preparation method. The enzymes in the saliva will affect the final product.

Kava extract is an emulsion, consisting of suspended kavalactone droplets in a starchy suspension. Kava root powder may be mixed with cold water through blending or straining to make a simple tea. In the West, it is often taken in pill form. Kava may also be combined with coffee to produce “kavajava,” the effects of which are said to combine the best qualities of each substance.

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