Looking for a natural replacement for alcohol? Want to reduce anxiety? Try Kava.
So there I was… 3 Christmases ago when we were holidaying in Bali.
As with most holidays, there was lots of food and lots of alcohol. Just your typical holiday really.
Now, when you’re treating your body this way, it tends to turn on you and I was visited by a nasty little stomach bug on Christmas Eve.
Needless to say, the alcohol and most of the food stopped there.
I wasn’t feeling much better on Christmas Day and for the first time in many years I didn’t drink at all the whole day. Unfortunately, I still wasn’t back to normal by New Year’s Eve so I avoided alcohol then too.
Then it dawned on me that the two biggest drinking events of the year were now ‘dry days’. I had a revelation! I thought that if I can get through Australia Day, I might just last until my birthday in July. To be honest, I quite liked the idea of a challenge.
So what’s the point of the story, you’re asking?
Well up until that point, I had always thought I was relatively healthy.
Sure, I had the odd glass of wine and binged on holidays – but hey who doesn’t? But the more I thought about it, maybe this was my body’s way of telling me that it didn’t like the way it was being treated.
If you want to ditch your unhealthy drinking habits, but you really enjoy relaxing with a glass of wine at the end of the day, then instead of going cold turkey, why not look at an alternative?
Kava may just be one of the best alternatives!
According to the Bulletproof blog:
“Kava offers a non-alcoholic way to wind down at the end of the day, especially if you’re working late or you have trouble falling asleep.”
Sounds perfect, right?
Well, what if I told you that drinking kava won’t make you feel terrible the next morning? You’ll experience the same calming effects of alcohol, without the terrible hangover! Well now I’ve got your attention.
Want to experience the same calming effects of alcohol, without the terrible hangover? Try kava!
So what exactly is kava?
Well, according to the Better Health Channel:
“Kava is a drug made from the ground roots of the plant Piper methysticum. Kava is consumed as a drink or supplement. The crushed, ground or powdered root is added to water and drunk like tea.”
Kava is grown in the Western Pacific regions and has been used in traditional medicines for more than 3000 years. In fact, kava bars have long been popular establishments in the surrounding areas.
There are a number of benefits and a couple downsides to using kava. Before you decide to give it a try, it’s best to know them both.
Benefits of Kava
Kava calms you down
One of the major benefits of kava, is the calming effect that it creates. In fact, it produces brain waves similar to those produced by calmatives. This calming effect has a string of other benefits for your health and wellbeing.
The calming effect brought on by Kava can help with other stress-related symptoms, such as muscle tension and it can help to relieve anxiety.
The great thing, is that unlike many other calmatives, Kava can help you relax without dulling your mental edge. According to the Bulletproof blog, this might just be the best benefit:
“Perhaps the best part of kava is that it doesn’t impact mental clarity. A cup of kava tea will make you feel pleasantly relaxed, similar to the way a glass of wine might, but you’ll be perfectly sharp mentally.
Kava helps you sleep
Kava can improve sleeplessness and has been used to help treat insomnia. Given that Kava isn’t addictive, Karen Curinga suggests that it can also help in reducing withdrawal symptoms from sleep medication.
One possible reason why kava is able to help its users sleep is because it reduces anxiety and stress that is often the root cause of sleeplessness.
The self-proclaimed Kava Guru explains that everyday stresses often cause sleeplessness. This vicious cycle continues because when you can’t sleep, it’s more difficult to concentrate the next day and the more stressed you become – making it more difficult to sleep.
You need to get a handle on your sleeping patterns to reduce your stress and anxiety levels. Remember, your quality of sleep is what matters.
Kava can help curb addictions
Kava can also play a role in helping with addiction and cravings. Some early research suggests that Kava might actually be able to reduce drug cravings.
Kava is able to speed up the process of ‘giving up’ an addiction, whether that be tobacco, drugs or alcohol. While the sedative effects assist with any withdrawal symptoms.
The Downsides to Kava
As always, you should consult a medical practitioner before you start using kava. As with many herbal remedies, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not use kava. In addition, those suffering from depression should avoid kava as it could increase depressive symptoms.
It is possible that kava can have a negative effect on your liver functions when used for a long time. Research has shown some cases of liver toxicity due to kava consumption, including hepatitis, cirrhosis and liver failure.
Extreme Sedation When Combined With Alcohol
Kava also should not be combined with alcohol. This isn’t just kava, but all herbal therapies. When combined with alcohol, the calming effect is greatly increased. The calming effect may also affect your reaction times, which could make it unsafe to drive.
There is not much research on how kava interacts with other medications, so it’s best to avoid it if you are taking any kind of prescription medication.
How to use Kava
The beginner’s guide to using kava suggests that there are a number of different ways to take kava, depending on how strong you want the dosage to be.
According to Tammy Dray, you need to make sure that you’re choosing the supplement that works best for you. Kava is available in tablet, liquid and tea form. The capsules are easy to take, there’s no bad taste and they’re incredibly popular.
Then, there’s also the powdered root kava. You can mix the desired amount of powder into a drink and make a drink of your desired strength. Now, the taste of kava might not be everybody’s cup of tea…But luckily, pre-made kava teas are a great way to disguise the taste. In terms of the strength, kava tea isn’t as strong as other forms of kava.
Bulletproof blog suggests that:
“if you want the powerful stuff, kava extract is the way to go.”
They also suggest that you can chew kava root or strain them to make a stronger tea.
If you aren’t entirely sure about going the kava route to replace your alcohol, there are a few other alternatives that you could try.
Some other alternatives to Kava
Dry Farm wines
If you don’t want to be the only one at the party that’s drinking kava, you can try Dry Farm wines as an alternative. They stock all organic, natural wines and they promote their products as being both pure and clean. (A word of warning though – they don’t ship directly to Australia!)
Why not change up your bubbly for some mineral water? It’s got a delicious fizzy taste and it contains heaps of minerals. San Pellegrino is packed with sulphate, more so than other mineral waters.
The best part, there’s no sugar and no nasty chemicals in this mineral water!
How can you give up alcohol when all your friends drink
Kelly Exeter, host of the Straight and Curly podcast, did a great podcast where she discusses the drinking culture in Australia and how it can sometimes be really difficult to give up alcohol. She also discusses what a ‘safe’ amount of alcohol means and whether life might actually be better without alcohol. I’d definitely suggest listening to the podcast to see what it might be like to give up alcohol for a while.
Now, people often ask me if I gave up alcohol cold turkey. I think that there is a lot of stigma around ‘quitting’ drinking, but I like to simplify my thoughts on this.
When people ask me why I don’t drink, I simply say “I’m just not drinking right now”.
So you’re probably wondering how long my alcohol-free period lasted?
Well, on the 12 month anniversary of me giving up alcohol, I was sitting in a caravan park with my family, looking forward to a glass of very old Margaret River red wine we’d been given as a gift.
The sunset was epic, the kids were behaving, I had some organic sugar free chocolate…life was good!
Fast forward to the first sip of wine at Christmas dinner and something was off. The smell wasn’t right. I felt a little dizzy and a slight headache was coming on.
Long story short, I never ended up getting any of that wine that I was so looking forward to – turns out the chocolate was 7 months past its expiration date and was mouldy.
I had a serious flashback to the nasty stomach bug I’d had 12 month earlier and realised that maybe this was just my body’s way of saying “we’re good thanks!”
(Note to self: Mouldy chocolate is really not good for you!)
Kava is a natural replacement for alcohol and can aid in reducing anxiety. Give it a go and see how it works for your body.
You can also try one of the other suggestions in this post if kava doesn’t work for your body.
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