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History of Kava 

Throughout the Pacific Islands, which figure so prominently in romantic literature, it is nearly impossible to discuss the history of their various cultures without speaking of the mysterious, cultivated shrub known as kava. Sometimes called kava kava, keu, awa, ava and yogana, kava produces a slightly bitter, slightly frothy, aromatic, resinous brew capable of inducing tranquility and an ultimate sense of well-being. 

In more traditional, tribal cultures, children are given the task of chewing the roots and lower stems (lateral roots and rhizomes) of the plant to produce the brew made from kava. The mouths of children are generally more disease free than those of adults, and their teeth are stronger as well, so they make ideal candidates for chewing the root. As they gnaw away on a mouthful, they spit the extraction into a large wooden bowl. The alkaline saliva of the mouth with its salivary enzymes promotes the extraction of the active ingredients marindin and dihydromethylsticin. 

Then, the kava root mixture is diluted by the addition of water, and the mixture is strained into coconut bowls. One half of such a bowl is enough to induce a state of well-being and a slight mental inactivity which leads to tranquility lasting several hours. Such contentment seems to bring no cessation of reason, and active discussions occupy the participants.  

Oceanic cultures vary in the importance they attach to the use of kava. In Manua legend states that kava was first given by the Sun God to Tagaloa Ui, the first high chief of the Samoans. The legend begins with the sacrifice to the sun of a young virgin, Fituita, at the place where the sun rises. Her fate was to be the virgin devoured by the sun. 

However, one year a girl by the name of Ui was offered, and so great was her beauty that the sun god took her to be his bride. When she became pregnant by this solar deity and wished to return for a visit with her people to give birth she was sent flying through the sky at a tremendous speed. As a result, she miscarried, and her baby was flung into the ocean. 

All was not lost, as the legend goes, for a hermit crab found it tended to the infant, along with a plover and a shrike. The boy grew under the guidance of this unlikely trio into Tagaloa Ui. It was he who taught mortals how to make kava, as well as the reverential ceremony that surrounds its use. 

Pava, the first mortal to participate in the ceremony, had a son who laughed at the antics of his father as he attempted to prepare this brew for Tagaloa Ui. In God-like wrath, Tagaloa Ui cut the son into two pieces to the dismay of Pava, and then proceeded to instruct Pava in the correct manner of preparing kava. After a wooden bowl was filled with kava, Pava offered it to Tagaloa Ui, who did not drink it, but poured it on half of Pava’s dead son and uttered “soifua”, or life. At this pronouncement the boy was made whole again and Pava clapped his hands in joy. 

With the admonition that kava pertains to high chiefs and is sacred, Tagaloa Ui took his leave. Rituals since that day involve the pronouncement and clapping of hands. 

The essence of many myths in diverse areas of the world also include references to this psychoactive plant. This ritual use of kava remains most intact today in Samoa. and throughout all of Oceania.  Throughout the oceanic area, in general, kava bars are not uncommon and are becoming the coffeehouses of this great area. 

It’s important to note that although we cite Samoan myths regarding Kava, it is widely accepted that Vanuatu is the true origin of kava.  It’s interesting to read the theories and wonder. 

FAQs

Where Kava Originated
The bottom line is that anyone who claims to know where Kava first appeared or where it truly comes from:  They’re only speculating. The kava found in Fiji and Polynesia are most-likely plants that had its origins in Vanuatu, which reflects that of Firth’s records as well.  More recent research also tried to narrow the origin of kava even more, and has suggested northern Vanuatu, possibly Maewo island as the true “root” of kava kava. 

Is Kava Legal in the U.S.?
Yes!

Is Kava Safe?
Kava, when prepared or extracted from only the root and used at the appropriate dosage, has been shown to be a very safe substance. 

WHAT DOES KAVA DO?
Kava is truly one of the rare gifts from nature. Kava is also a VERY good source of fiber. It’s not called “The Sociability Plant” for nothing! Kava helps to naturally lower inhibitions and helps increase pleasant feelings of well-being.  For sufferers of back pain, Kava has been proven to be an effective pain reliever.

Is Kava addictive?
It is completely non-addictive. 

Kava Sleep Aids
Kava is a wondrous plant which produces calm and relaxation without side effects. It’s no wonder that kava is many people’s preferred “night cap,” as it can calm you down and prepare you for a night of restful sleep. More and more doctors are even recommending that their patients take daily doses of kava as a mild sleep aid and a natural anxiety reducer. One of the great things about kava use is that it does not lose its potency over time. 

Does Kava Work for Anxiety?
Kava can start working for anxiety faster than many prescription anti-anxiety medications, substantially improving anxiety symptoms in as little as a week compared to 4 to 6 weeks of treatment with a prescription anxiolytic.