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Exploring Kava as a Refreshing Alcohol Alternative

Exploring Kava as a Refreshing Alcohol Alternative

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Kava, a plant steeped in the traditions of the South Pacific, is gaining traction around the world as an alternative to alcohol. Especially for social and celebratory occasions that usually go hand-in-hand with drinking, kava promises all the benefits of booze without the hangover.

From its ceremonial roots to its modern incarnation as a gentler social lubricant, we’ll examine kava as an alcohol alternative. Everything is better in moderation, including kava, but many people have already made the switch. Read on to see why kava could make going alcohol-free effortless.

What is Kava and How Does it Work?

what is kava

Kava is a shrub native to the South Pacific. From Fiji to Tonga and the many islands in between, local communities have long transformed its roots into a relaxing drink that is served at ceremonies and celebrations. 

Even outside of the Pacific Islands,  many people have adopted kava as a relaxing daily ritual. Kava's unique effects, including happiness and a sense of well-being, offer a refreshing way to unwind. Plus, kava can make you feel more talkative and friendly, making it a great choice for get-togethers. 

These qualities are largely attributed to a set of compounds called kavalactones. Kavalactones calm our brain by affecting our network of GABA receptors. Our GABA receptors interact with GABA neurotransmitters, which are like little chemical messengers that our bodies release to help reduce stress and improve mood. Kavalactones neatly integrate into this neurological system to enhance the effectiveness of all things GABA.

And according to the current body of research into kava, kavalactones don't stop there. They also reduce the reabsorption of dopamine, which is a hormone associated with the sensation of pleasure. They may even help reduce our body's stress response by influencing the reuptake of noradrenaline

All in all, kavalactones work through several biological channels to improve mood, promote relaxation, and clear the mind.

How Do Kava's Effects Compare to Alcohol?

A growing movement of people is swapping out a cocktail for a nibble of Kava + THC Chocolate. But can kava replace alcohol entirely? Kava enthusiasts seem to think so because of the undeniable overlap in effects. 

But let's break down the effects of kava vs. alcohol to find out exactly how comparable they are:

Similarities: Kava vs. Alcohol

young women socializing over drinks

In moderation, both alcohol and kava encourage connection and celebration. It's part of the reason why alcohol is so intertwined with social events. A drink or two can reduce any nervousness about meeting new people and, for good or bad, help reduce natural inhibitions. 

The same goes for kava. Across the diverse cultures of the South Pacific, kava often fills the role of a social lubricant. It's widely shared at meetings, marriages, funerals, and other major events. 

As one reporter explained in a feature for Expedition Magazine, "To host guests without offering kava would be unthinkable. It is not only the elixir of sociality but also a marker of social significance." Much like many of us offer dinner guests a glass of wine.

But that is generally where the similarities end. 

Differences: Kava vs. Alcohol

young man contemplating a glass of whiskey

A major distinction between Kava and Alcohol is safety. The World Health Organization classifies alcohol as a toxic substance, and in the words of David Nutt, "It is a toxin that kills cells such as microorganisms, which is why we use it to preserve food and sterilize skin, needles, etc. Alcohol kills humans too." 

On the other hand, "Clinical studies [of kava] have not revealed any chronic toxicity, " as the Encyclopedia of Toxicity summarized. Kava has few reported side effects, especially when taken in moderation and from quality noble kava cultivars. 

Secondly, kava consumption doesn't lead to intoxication, violent behavior, or cognitive abilities. All of these are effects linked to excessive alcohol consumption

Finally, in study after study, kava proves to be non-addictive, even with daily consumption. There is no evidence of withdrawal symptoms from kava—which cannot be said about alcohol. 

Why Kava Might Be Better for You

Why are more and more people subbing kava as an alcohol alternative? Considering traditional kava beverages can be quite bitter, even more so than a glass of a tannin-rich Cabernet Sauvignon, it's not a swap people are making for taste. 

Instead, most people find that kava has many of the experiential benefits of alcohol, but it's healthier, has fewer risks, and promises no hangover.

Low Calorie

alcoholic drinks

Kava beverages, typically prepared with water, are naturally low to no-calorie. Compare that with a glass of wine or a can of beer, which average 150 calories each. You can quickly see why imbibing with kava can be a diet-friendly alternative.

No Hangover

young man in bed with a headache at 10 am hungover from excessive alcohol drinking

After a night of sharing kava among friends, you'll be pleasantly surprised to wake up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed the next day. So long as you don't consume an excessive amount (clinical trials suggest a safe daily dose range for kavalactones between 20 and 300 mg), kava will leave you hangover-free the next morning. 

Just keep in mind that lower-quality kavas like Tudei Kava have been known to cause side effects that can last several days. Always look for high-quality Noble kava to avoid these lingering side effects.

Easy and Precise Dosing

Kava Chocolate Bar

These days, kava has evolved from the traditional drink format into more palatable edibles. Whether you are just starting out or already know exactly how much you need to unwind, edibles make it much easier to get the kava dosage right.

For example, every piece of our Kava + Ashwagandha Chocolate contains a precise 50 milligrams of kava per square. One piece is the perfect place to start your kava journey.

Non-Addictive

In the words of Australia’s Alcohol and Drug Foundation (ADF), "There is no evidence that people who regularly use kava become dependent on the drug, so if you stop taking it, you are unlikely to experience withdrawal symptoms." 

Noble Kava: Our New Favorite Alcohol Alternative

The rising popularity of kava as an alcohol alternative is a reflection of our growing desire for healthier, more responsible ways to celebrate. Kava's effects enhance mood, promote relaxation, and encourage sociability without many of the negative impacts associated with alcohol. 

Ready to move on from hazy alcohol-fueled nights and nasty hangovers? Swap kava as an alcohol alternative as you celebrate and socialize while keeping your mental clarity and well-being in check.

Until next time, happy exploring, and mind your mind.

FDA Disclaimer: The statements made regarding these products have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The efficacy of these products has not been confirmed by FDA-approved research. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. All information presented here is not meant as a substitute for or alternative to information from health care practitioners. Please consult your healthcare professional about potential interactions or other possible complications before using any product. The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act requires this notice.

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