Though traditional medicinal plants like kava are causing a stir in the western world of medical science, it’s important to remember that people have been using these plants long before the advent of modern medicine.
Today, drinking kava provides a way for inhabitants of the Pacific Islands to connect to their ancient roots and feel gratitude for the nature around them. In this modern world, it’s easy to forget about nature’s role in our wellness.
Kava is a good reminder that we need to get out in nature and take care of it, because it takes care of us, boosts our mood, and frees our minds–-as it has for millennia.
Kava in the Pacific
In the Pacific Islands, kava has held a significant role in ceremonies, socialization, rituals, and medicine. The people of Hawaii, Vanuatu, Fiji, Tonga, the Samoas, and Micronesia have cultivated it for centuries from a wild ancestral plant. The kava plant was cultivated to produce the most favorable kavalactones which produce pleasant effects.
Different methods of preparation have been used to extract kavalactones from the plant’s root, and varied depending on the ceremony or event. The people of Fiji, for example, would often dry kava root in the sun and then pound it into a fine powder, strain it and mix it with cold water. They’d traditionally drink it from a coconut shell.
Misunderstanding in the West
When Captain James Cook explored the Pacific Islands in the 1770s, he and his team of botanists and naturalists were perhaps the first westerners to encounter the kava plant.
Today, studies on kava show it to have benefits for treating occasional stress and, and other ailments. The inhabitants of the islands knew about the mood-enhancing qualities of the plant and its many medicinal properties.
Captain Cook and his crew failed to understand the medicinal potential of the kava root. Cook wrote about it pretty unfavorably, merely criticizing its taste and claiming that it was prepared “in the most disgustful manner.”
It’s pretty clear that even in the 1770s, the developed world had lost a lot of what it meant to be present in nature and listen to it.
Reconnect to Nature
It’s no surprise that getting out in nature has many health benefits, including reducing occasional stress, creating a better mood, reducing the risk of psychiatric disorders, and improving cognition. Sometimes, however, the fast pace of life can get in the way of getting outside.
Drinking kava is the perfect way to step into nature, feel the breeze, and listen to the birds. Kava is an ancient plant that has been cultivated by people who knew how to help the plant thrive, perfecting its components.
The temporary relaxation, mental energy, and calmness kava provides create the perfect mindset to go out in nature and connect to your surroundings. Go surfing in the waves, hiking in the woods, or running in the desert–-and feel free.