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It hit me hard in the best way possible – it came as a shot of inspiration during the long, beautiful day, and I felt instantly refreshed, creative, friendly and social. As I drank the cool liquid I noticed a pleasant numbness in my mouth, and the strong desire to pour my thoughts into art and life.
The California Roots Music and Arts Festival was my first time trying the seemingly magical concoction from the Pacific Islands called “Kava”. Standing there with the ever-smiling and kind-hearted founder of the “Ohana Kava” organic kava company, I came to learn a lot more about the fascinating drink.
(If you’re already thinking you want to try kava, you can get it right here.)
My First Kava Experience
This all happened right after Stick Figure’s groundbreaking set on Sunday afternoon; I found myself over in the artist area sipping cups of kava with a couple friends, and I noticed my energy levels start to rise.
From there, the cold tea made from the kava root had an almost instantaneous and powerful effect on me. Where I had formerly felt somewhat fatigued from the awesome weekend of music and friends, I felt a grounding sense of powerful energy come over me. It wasn’t the type of jittery energy I had grown used to from drinking tea and coffee over the years, but a calm, clear, energy that seemed ripe for good conversation, creative sessions or meditation.
This sense of creative energy grew, and I couldn’t believe the euphoria I was feeling – was this all the result of the kava? I felt the need to shout out to the world how wonderful my experience was – “Everyone should try this!” I laughed.
I felt relaxed and grounded, but at the same time energetic, talkative, outgoing and inspired. As a writer, I couldn’t wait to go and express to the world how Stick Figure’s amazing set had just taken the already phenomenal day to another level (read the post I wrote here on the California Roots blog).
As we drank kava and laughed, I also found out that Rachelle Campbell, the beautifully enthusiastic and kind soul who brewed it, is the founder of the organic kava company “Ohana Kava”, and has been enjoying the benefits of the natural drink, tinctures and salves for years.
After my experience, I knew I needed to write a post for Rachelle and share the love I felt – this post is the result of that.
Kava’s Birth in the Pacific Islands
For a tiny history lesson, it’s believed that kava has been used in the Pacific Islands ceremonially and socially for quite some time. It was reportedly highly regarded for everything from celebrating friendships, family and social gatherings, to welcoming foreign diplomats.
This enticed me, as I tend to gravitate toward natural things that have proven useful for hundreds or thousands of years. To me, they reflect an older patience of learning and wisdom from the earth, and are the result of years of application rather than a few quick tests in a lab and approval from an authority.
This cold-brewed tea made from the roots of the kava plant is an important part of cultural history, and that’s a special thing to me.
I absolutely love Rachelle’s company Ohana Kava, and the idea that there is wisdom in the plants and the earth around us that can have powerful and potentially healing effects. Using something from mother nature that many have used for centuries to heal and celebrate is a beautiful notion to me.
In my experience, Rachelle’s vibe is as pure as her kava, and she is truly a wonderful person looking to help people and promote more good in the world.
She has taken the magic of kava and made it available in its purest and most organic forms. I love that she is rekindling this powerful and ancient remedy, and does so with the intention of helping people naturally.
Potential Health Benefits
It was awesome seeing the passion with which Rachelle spoke of her kava – she smiled while telling me about her experiences with it as a healthy and natural way to ease stress and anxiety, as well as relax and enjoy time with friends and family.
Aaron, lead singer of the band Thrive! from Santa Cruz, enjoyed a couple cups with us and told us how he had stopped drinking alcohol years ago, but would drink kava occasionally as a more relaxed and meaningful social alternative.
I loved everything about it – the feeling, the people, the moment, the excitement – it all felt right.
Why Aren’t Natural Medicines More Popular?
What I couldn’t figure out is why I hadn’t heard about this awesome, natural drink before. Looking further into research conducted on the root tea, I confirmed that kava is and has been used to treat anxiety, calm muscles, promote better sleep, and overall well-being for quite some time.
Many studies have shown its effectiveness for calming down the mind and nerves, and one of my first thoughts was wishing that doctors would prescribe kava instead of the potentially mind-numbing anti-depressants and anti-anxiety pills that seem to be handed out all the time.
To my surprise though, I found that kava had been banned in a number of European countries as well as Canada, and I couldn’t help but wonder why.
It didn’t take me long to find out that kava was potentially linked with a few cases of liver failure, and from there, with almost no follow-up studies, became banned.
While I couldn’t find a lot of information on the extremely small number of cases this happened in, those who experienced liver failure seemed to be people who were taking extremely high doses of “kavalactones” (the active ingredient in kava) on a daily basis for a period of 2 or 3 months straight when this happened.
It really struck me as odd when so much evidence pointed to all the people who had wonderful experiences with kava, and at least two countries had banned it without a second glance because of a few possible linked cases of liver failure that occurred with seemingly excessive usage.
Here’s a great tip – overusing anything isn’t good for you, and everything becomes toxic when presented at exorbitant levels. These people weren’t having a small cup of kava on the couch after a long week at work; every single day they took extremely high doses over a longer period of time.
If you drink too much water you can die of water poisoning – the body is only able to tolerate certain amounts of anything you put in there, and too much of even things considered “good” can be bad.
But instead of doing an in-depth study on safe consumption levels of the herb and ensuring people know every benefit and potential drawback, it seems that the first reaction was just to ban it outright.
It would be nice seeing as much energy and time given to potential natural medicines as we put into synthetic drugs created in laboratories, with lists of dangerous side effects longer than the Amazon River.
How many times have insanely addictive painkillers been prescribed and even advertised on the false premises that they were “non habit-forming”, effectively turning opioid addictions into an epidemic? These drugs, which are still prescribed to thousands of people every day, have tens of thousands of overdose deaths linked to them every single year!
Yet a few seemingly understudied cases of kava overuse led to entire countries banning the herb, when it has been used safely for hundreds of years by people in responsible doses. Doesn’t this seem a bit odd to you?
It’s just funny to me that something with so many positive attributes and relatively rare cases of negative side effects would be banned so quickly without a lot more research conducted. Remember when it was “common knowledge” that marijuana was terrible for you?
I thought this article was very interesting, and it notes the importance of knowing where your kava came from and how it was harvested and processed:
At the end of the day, we should take the responsibility to know the benefits and risks of anything that we’re ingesting, and not just take someone’s word for it. I encourage you to do your own research, and come to your own conclusions in a way that best suits you.
I think that it is up to us as people to know our bodies and trust what we’re putting in them. Just because a doctor tells you something is safe and recommends it, doesn’t mean it is. On the other hand, just because something is “natural” or even has positive effects, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take care and be responsible in its use.
Kava, or any other plants or substances that can be used to assist healing, spiritual growth and relaxation, also shouldn’t act as your “miracle drug” to happiness, but as helpful guides along the journey. At the end of the day, happiness is found within, and things like this can be used to help guide the process.
If you’d like to try kava for yourself, you can order it online here from Rachelle with the confidence that you’re getting the good organic stuff.
To sum it all up, a beautiful and heartfelt response from Rachelle on kava:
“I just feel so grateful that there is a plant medicine that can be effective and non addictive available! There is ALWAYS going to be a contrast in opinion, especially in topics concerning health, religion, politics – really anything in life. The beauty is that you are a free, sovereign being, and can take opinions, reports, and any information biased or unbiased, and do what you want.
As with introducing any medicine, plant or otherwise, considering what medications you are already taking is a good idea. Specifically pertaining to kava, any medications metabolized by the liver. Kava is an effective herb for the relief of symptoms caused by anxiety and stress. Mixing this plant with lab engineered “western” medicine and/or alcohol can be harsh on anyone’s body.
Alcohol damages your liver in tremendous ways and has caused many deaths. Most of us put our trust in doctors to prescribe medication that has ridiculous amounts of side effects, many worse than anxiety itself, not to mention being highly addictive! For me, concerning anything I choose to put in my body, it’s all about balance.
I know many people that use kava daily, no concerns, just some happy, blissed-out individuals. Still, all of our bodies are unique. We process things differently mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically. We come from different backgrounds, histories, and genes. Some of us are more susceptible to certain health concerns than others.
If you have a sensitive liver, it’s not a good idea to consume anything that is metabolized by the liver, kava being one example – certainly don’t consume alcohol either! Also, this is very important… KNOW WHERE YOUR MEDICINE IS FROM! Kava root is what is medicinal. Kava leaves on the other hand are poisonous and toxic. if leaves end up in your root medicine then you are at risk. Ohana Kava is grown organically, carefully harvested and 100% root!
But what it boils down to is what “feels” good in your mind, body, and spirit. Trust yourself! We are faced with choices and decisions on the daily, follow your intuition. For me, I choose natural, organic plant medicine over any “western” prescription medication any day. With that being said, I can only decide that for me. Kava isn’t going to be for everyone – only you can decide what’s best for you. All I can say is that it’s a natural alternative medicine that’s worth a shot!”
Rachelle, I give my utmost thanks and praise to you for founding a company you are passionate about, and that you put so much love and care into.
Thank you so much for helping spread positive vibes and good into the world, and I can’t wait to celebrate my next cup of kava with you!