2007-06-15

Kava - Part 2

I've been drinking Kava again. And this time I'll probably make it a daily habit.

For those who haven't as yet partaken of this foul tasting liquid, may I encourage you to do it at least once just to see what it is like.

I'll start off about the taste. It is foul. I describe it people as akin to drinking liquified horse manure. It is that bad. Each time you drink it you wonder what the heck got you into drinking it in the first place.

But its the effects that are important. Kava may be foul tasting, but its effects are sweet.

If I was to compare it alcohol, it would be this way:

Alcohol tastes good. Its effects are good. Its after-effects are bad.
Kava tastes bad. Its effects are good. Its after-effects are good.

Some people I have spoken to think that Kava is some form of alcohol. It is not. Check out the Wikipedia link above. It is simply the ground-up root of a plant from the South Pacific.

The first thing you notice is that your lips and tongue go numb. The effect of the Kava is to act like a local anaesthetic. The blood vessels around your mouth contract. This lasts about half an hour, but for me there is another good effect - one that has not been reported yet.

I have a Deviated Septum. Basically my nasal passages are blocked which means I can only breathe through one nostril at a time, usually. I had an operation about ten years ago which improved it but not enough to fully clear it. As a result, I have, for about 7-8 years, been using a nasal decongestant spray each night before I go to bed. I am well aware that continual use of this is harmful, but trying to sleep by breathing through your mouth is horrible. It leads to loud snoring and a dry mouth. When I was at school I used to have a glass of water beside my bed to use at night to keep my mouth wet. I once tried those band-aid things that you can buy at chemists that open up the airways more but they cost a lot of money and are not all that effective.

But a few weeks ago, after drinking some Kava, I noticed that my nostrils were clear. The reason is because of the constriction of the blood vessels, and it lasts all night. So instead of sniffing decongestant spray, I can now drink Kava, and my night is easily breathable.

There are other effects of Kava that are beginning to impact:

Kava acts as a muscle relaxant generally. This means that if you have some Kava in the evening then your body is relaxed by the time you go to bed. After you have it you feel relaxed and de-stressed. Kava also produces somnolence - it makes you drowsy. But it's not like the drowsiness you get from over-the-counter sleeping pills at Chemists.

Kava has psychoactive properties - in a similar way as Cannabis. However these properties are a fraction of what Cannabis produces, so there should be no harm done. In fact, Cannabis users who have tried Kava complain that it has no noticeable effect on them at all. Additionally, these psychoactive properties can cause wonderful dreams but I have yet to experience them.

I find that Kava helps me to get to bed earlier and to sleep the whole night through. It relaxes me and helps me to breathe through my nose. On the days I wake up after having Kava I feel reasonably good.

I know that there are some health risks with Kava, but these are mainly due to overuse. If a person consumes too much Kava in one sitting they will essentially collapse and fall asleep. When they wake up they have no ill effects. Too much Kava over a long period can lead to skin rashes, which disappear once Kava is no longer taken. Other problems associated with overuse include Liver Toxicity. Some people's stomaches react badly to the numbing caused by Kava and it makes them feel ill. Kava and Alcohol do not mix either, I have read.

I understand that Pacific Islanders who drink Kava together tend to follow the drink with a "fruit chaser" ie they drink the Kava as fast as they can and then eat some fruit to take away the taste. This might be a good idea, but I have also read that Kava should not be drunk on a full stomach.



© 2007 Neil McKenzie Cameron, http://one-salient-oversight.blogspot.com/

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2 comments:

Rev Sam said...

Alright, you're persuading me it's worth a try.

One Salient Oversight said...

The best way to find it is to find your local Samoan or Tongan community and they should be able to tell you their supplier. I'm not sure if there are any in Essex!