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The Benefits of Kava and Easy Ways to Get Them.

By: Rebbeca Aréchiga

Kava tinctures and body oils are a great way to enjoy 'awa!

In Tonga, it’s called yaqona, in Pohnpei, it’s sakau, in Vanuatu, it’s known as malok, and in Hawaiʻi, we know it as ʻawa (pronounced ah-vah). It is kava or kava kava, the beverage or extract made from the Piper methysticum plant. Kava was one of the original plants brought to Hawaiʻi over 1,500 years ago. Alongside other canoe crop staples such as taro, sugar cane, and banana, kava thrived in Hawaiʻi, as it did in other parts of the South Pacific, and became a sacred drink. It was utilized by Chiefs and those with high ranks, as an offering to the Gods, and when attainable, a drink for hardworking fishermen and farmers at the end of the day.   

Today, kava is still a large part of the traditions and cultures of many South Pacific islander communities, and in addition to being used ceremoniously, is used for medicinal purposes and as a relaxing social drink. 

Kava does not have the same effects as alcohol. It promotes calm and feelings of ease without intoxicating, while also increasing mental alertness and energy. Kava can relieve tension and common pains. For some, it still has a strong spiritual element. 

The cultivation of kava is complex as the plant cannot reproduce naturally. Over generations, kava farmers have perfected the art of propagation, cultivating from a node on the center of the stalk. It then takes 3-5 years before a kava plant is matured and can be harvested. Allowing this time to mature also allows the kavalactones to fully develop–these are the elements of the kava plant which provide the relaxation effects. 

The kava root is best harvested right after rain. Most kava tea is made with the fresh root of the plant but it can also be sundried for later use. The root is chopped into pieces, ground down into powder, mixed with water, then strained. It is water that activates the kavalactones and creates a potent cup of kava. In the past, kava was sometimes chewed to allow saliva to activate the kavalactones, then spit into a bowl. 

For hundreds of years, Native Hawaiian kava farmers have been experimenting with different strands of kava to form varying chemotypes. Today, there are 13 strands of Hawaiʻi kava. Only the most common strands are used for most people. Rare strands are reserved for the very special few. Because kava has such significant cultural and spiritual roots, there are numerous groups, councils, task forces, and committees within the Hawaiian islands to educate about and perpetuate the use of kava. 

Kava farming is inherently the antithesis of large-scale industrial farming. Over many generations and sustained popularity of the beverage, kava farming has been preserved as an intimate family event. Local farmers will often plant kava among other crops for additional income or personal use. The quality of local kava products has been consistently upheld for this reason. We are proud that kava is also now growing in our Common Ground agroforest. 

The word ʻawa comes from the Hawaiian language word for bitter. Along with a distinctly earthy flavor, kava’s bitterness equates to a taste not typically described as pleasant. Many choose to chase cups of kava with fresh fruit. Others turn to alternative methods of consumption, such as kava tinctures and elixirs. 

Common Ground | Island Chill
Common Ground | Island Chill
$41.00
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Sol Remedies has created Island Chill, made in partnership with Common Ground. An adaptogenic wellness elixir designed to mellow your mood by relaxing your nervous system, Island Chill is herbalist-formulated. A Hawaiʻi-grown kava-based blend, it also includes chamomile, tulsi, nettle, milky oats, and blue vervain. These are all powerful nervines that work in tandem to calm anxiety and stress and also boost the immune system. Island Chill provides overall nourishment and preventative care, balancing the nervous system without drowsiness. 

As with all other Sol Remedies products, Island Chill is made with integrity at the forefront, with all herbs personally grown, wild harvested, or sourced from other small, local farmers or other equal exchange companies who also value integrity. Sol Remedies began out of a desire to heal people with organic, natural, and time-honored methods. Harnessing the well-known benefits of kava, Sol Remedies thoughtfully perpetuates the use of this adaptogenic plant that means so much to communities in Hawaiʻi and throughout the South Pacific. 

For maximum absorption, take 1-2 full droppers, 1-2 times per day; or as needed. It can also be mixed with water, tea or juice. 

Mellow your mood and shop for Island Chill in the CG Marketplace now.

Mystic Rose | Muscle & Joint Skin Oil
Mystic Rose | Muscle & Joint Skin Oil
$50.00
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If body pain and inflammation is the catalyst for kava use, Mystic Rose’s Muscle and Joint Body Oil was developed to combat aches with healing herbs ideal for sore muscles. Sustainably wild harvested local ʻawa is dried and infused into kukui nut oil and other essential oils that alleviate muscle tension and spasms while also promoting relaxation. Mystic Rose products never use pesticides, herbicides, synthetic or harmful chemicals, or GMOs at any stage of the growing or distillation process. In a world where most conventional, synthetic perfumes and skin care products are made with a long list of toxic chemicals, there is organic, top-quality, ethically-sourced Mystic Rose.

This kava-based Muscle and Joint Body Oil is also currently available in the CG Marketplace. 

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