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What is Kava?

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At Botanic Tonics, we subscribe to the use of plants as medicine. It’s important to us that those who consume our products understand that our tonics are strong. They kick like a mule (in a good electric-euphoric sort of way). We recommend that anyone who tries to feel free, does so with a conscious and clear mindset.

One ingredient that makes our tonic, a feel free a game changer is kava. Kava is a root native to the South Pacific region. The small shrub grows naturally and is used in Fiji, Tonga, and Hawaii and has been for many years. It’s been used by native islanders for over 3,000 years as a medicinal treatment and also as part of their religious ceremonies. Pacific Islanders may use kava occasionally, or they may do a complete kava ceremony if there is a special occasion. In a kava ceremony, everyone gathers and shares from a bowl that’s kept in the middle of the circle. A chosen person does the serving.

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Research shows that kava is shown to aid relaxation. In western culture, kava has been increasingly looked as a treatment for anxiety and stress, as well as insomnia. Some research has shown kava may be as effective as benzodiazepines, although research is still limited on the topic.  As with other supplements, it’s important that people who take kava don’t mix it with prescription drugs. This is because it can inhibit their effectiveness or cause more serious side effects. 


Kava Benefits 

Kava has been used to treat a number of conditions, including; generalized anxiety disorder, stress, insomnia and PMS. The Kavalactones in the kava plants are the active ingredients. The science on how these components work is still limited, but there is a theory that kavalactones interact with the limbic system. The limbic system is the part of the brain responsible for fear and anxiety. When kavalactones bind to those brain receptors, they may naturally reduce anxiety.

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The science behind Kava: It’s a safe, plant-based alternative to Benzodiazepines


Kava root (Piper methysticum) contains several active constituents known as kavalactones that have been shown to have anxiolytic properties via modulation of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors and other excitatory neurotransmitters. A previous review concluded that kava is a potentially effective and relatively safe treatment for anxiety, although the sample sizes were limited and effect sizes small. Research points kava shows improvement in anxiety and has a low risk of addiction. Confirming it as a safe and plant-based anxiety solution.

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It’s said that kava serves as a natural alternative to widely used drugs like Xanax and Ativan and other prescription drugs. These drugs are prescribed to millions of people each year, and killed over 70,600 in 2020 according to the national institute on drug abuse. While not exactly understood, medical professionals believe benzos work because they raise levels of GABA in the brain, which calms neurotransmitter activity and reduces symptoms of anxiety. Unfortunately, they’re incredibly addictive, and people develop a tolerance to them, meaning they need more to get the same effect. A bit of research has been done on kava and shown that it is possibly effective at helping with the symptoms of anxiety and generalized anxiety disorder, and this is believed to be because it works in a way that’s similar to anti-anxiety drugs. It increases GABA. 


Fun Fact: Kava has a Reverse Tolerance effect
Kava is known to be one of the only substances on earth that produces reverse tolerance. 
Reverse tolerance is when one needs less of something each time in order to feel its effects. 
To get results, we have to drink enough kava to start building up a reserve of kavalactones, the chemical compounds in kava that produce a psychotropic effect. 
From then on with increased use, you actually get more of an effect (hence “reverse tolerance,” where typically your tolerance increases with use. The opposite happens with kava sometimes).


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