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Adaptogens & Euphorics: How Kava Provides Stress Relief Without the Downsides

Kava Adaptogens

Amongst adults and students alike, stress levels in America have increased dramatically since early 2020. At least 87% of adults in this country say they have more sources of stress now than in previous years. Chronic stress leads to brain fog, fatigue, lack of motivation, increased anxiety, and a variety of health problems. 

To combat the effects of stress, many Americans rely on caffeine to give them the energy and clarity to get through the day. In the evening, they often drink alcohol to wind down and relax. While both of these substances can provide temporary mood-boosting effects, it comes with a counterproductive caveat—both alcohol and caffeine (as well as nicotine) increase your levels of stress hormones (cortisol). 

Kava is different. Kava comes from the root of Piper methysticum, a species of pepper plant. Used by Pacific Islanders for centuries to provide a relaxing buzz, this euphoric drink is growing in popularity as an aid against stress and anxiety disorders. It’s one of the adaptogen herbs that’s causing a stir in the wellness world. Unlike alcohol and caffeine, adaptogens such as kava not only make you feel more relaxed; they actually decrease your cortisol levels. 

What Is an Adaptogen?


“Adaptogen” is a categorical term that describes non-toxic plants that help the body adapt to and resist stress. People have used these herbs for centuries in Chinese and Ayurvedic traditional medicine, but they’re only recently becoming popular (along with superfoods and antioxidants) in the western world. You can consume various adaptogens in different ways: by eating them, taking them as capsule supplements, or drinking them as teas. A few examples of popular adaptogens are holy basil (tulsi), ashwagandha, ginseng, turmeric, maca root.

More research is needed to find out exactly how they work, but the composition of adaptogens causes them to interact with the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and the sympathoadrenal system (both of which contribute to the body’s response to stress). They may also help your body’s physiological and hormonal responses function as they should, even when chronic stress threatens to throw off the balance.

Prolonged stress levels can cause imbalances in hormone levels, which in turn can cause poor sleep quality, weight gain, menstrual irregularities, muscle loss, the inability to focus, anxiety, and depression. Alcohol and caffeine may make you feel better, but it can also wreak havoc on your body’s hormonal balance. By taking adaptogens, your body can handle stress more adequately, reducing the negative effects. 

How Does Kava Produce Euphoria? 

While some adaptogens improve your mood by reducing stress, kava not only reduces stress, but provides a mild euphoria, similar to a buzz from alcohol. Kava’s mood-enhancing abilities come from compounds present in the kava root called kavalactones. There are many chemotypes of kavalactones present in the root, but 90% of their total content comes from six primary varieties. Each kavalactone has its own characteristics; some produce deeper relaxation, others greater euphoria. For example, the kavalactone desmethoxyyangonin increases dopamine levels. Other kavalactones produce an energetic effect. This is how kava can make you feel both relaxed and energized, without the crash of caffeine or the impaired motor-function of alcohol. 

How Does Kava Decrease Anxiety? 

Kavalactones work by binding to your brain’s GABA receptors. GABA is the body’s most important inhibitory neurotransmitter. It’s the chemical that reduces anxiety, physical and mental stress, and facilitates calmness. Dihydrokavain is one of the kavalactones that enhances GABA and reduces tension in the body. In addition to increasing dopamine and GABA, some of the kavalactones in kava (such as Dihydromethysticin) increase your brain’s serotonin levels. Serotonin helps regulate mood, appetite, and sleep. A deficiency of serotonin can cause depression and anxiety. Kava can enhance mood and sleep, as well as help regulate appetite. 

A Healthier Way To Help Manage Stress

decrease stress
Dealing with all of today’s uncertainties surrounding employment, education, the pandemic, the political climate and economy is a lot to manage. To have the energy and motivation to get through it, keeping your stress levels in check is key. Our Feel Free tonic uses kava to help you reduce stress, boost your mood, and relax more easily amidst all of the stressors of daily life. It’s no wonder more millennials are drinking less alcohol. Our kava tonic is one of the best solutions for you to feel free, even in the midst of today’s chaos.