Taki MaiTaki Mai

By Zane Yoshida

You may take kava supplements for a variety of reasons: to relax, to reduce stress, to socialize, or just because you like the taste. But did you know that kava can also help with muscle recovery? So it is a great option for sports and exercise enthusiasts out there…

Challenging the traditional view of kava

Whether kava and sports/exercise mix has been a subject that has been kicked around (excuse the pun) quite a few forums ever since kava started becoming more popular in the west.

The standard image people have of kava is of lying on a beach or in a kava bar sipping from a coconut shell. But that’s rapidly changing with the advent of kava shots, capsules, and powder. Kava is increasingly being taken as a supplement rather than just a social beverage.

Taking kava for sports might seem surprising for many people. But a previous Taki Mai blog post entitled Pre-Match Kava Rituals for Top Sportsmen reported how the Kiwi rugby team drinks kava at training and before a match, with one of the players saying:

“It helps with bumps and bruises, hydration and relaxation, especially after a long trip.”

It turns out that it may help with even more than that and can actually help muscles recover and repair…

Kava supplements and muscle recovery

Kava root is listed amongst the LiveStrong ‘muscle recovery herbs’ along with burdock root and other herbal mixtures.

Muscle recovery is the process by which muscles regain strength and it’s important for anyone who exercises regularly, as well as for more elite athletes. Minor muscle injuries such as strains are common, leading to inflammation and pain.

The website goes on to say:

“According to Xterra Training, kava root supplements are commonly used to alleviate tight muscles after a hard workout. Kava root helps to block harmful acids from forming; this increases the speed of muscle recovery. Kava root has also been used to prevent muscle cramps that are caused by a buildup of lactic acid.”

A number of bodybuilding sites are also starting to notice the benefits of taking kava supplements in the “cool down” post-exercise period. The relaxation benefits of kava help to repair tired muscles that need rest to be able to grow and stay healthy. They also help bodybuilders and other sportspeople deal with muscle tension and post-exercise soreness.

Bodybuilding.com says that the root “acts as a natural tranquillizer, steadying nerves and inducing a feeling of well-being”. More specifically:

“For bodybuilders … Kava might help to negate the symptoms of overtraining and enhance muscle growth via muscle relaxation.”

The same site lists the properties of kava as follows:

  • Alterative: tending to cure or restore to health
  • Analgesic: capable of relieving pain
  • Anesthetic: causes temporary loss of bodily sensations
  • Antifungal: capable of destroying fungi
  • Antiseptic: free of or destructive to disease-causing organisms
  • Antispasmodic: a drug used to relieve or prevent spasms
  • Aphrodisiac: a drug or other agent that stimulates sexual desire
  • Diuretic: any substance that tends to increase the flow of urine
  • Sedative: tending to soothe or tranquilize

Quite a list!

A few words of caution

Be careful with the quality of the kava you choose, the quantity you take, and when you take it, and you will benefit from its effects.

LiveStrong notes that “MedlinePlus.com…recommends that you do not take kava”, presumably based on the reports of liver damage that led to the kava ban in Germany, which was overturned last year. It is thought that these reports refer to an impure form of kava which included parts of the plant other than the pure root, which is what is used in the best kava supplements.

Our recently-announced partnership with Douglas Pharmaceuticals ensures that your Taki Mai kava supplements all use medicinal-grade kava.

Some scaremongers may also refer to an incident a few years back when a New York man collapsed while biking to work, after drinking kava tea.  However, it was found that he was suffering from rabdomyolosis, a kidney condition.

Kava can produce a similar diuretic reaction to coffee or tea, which may cause dehydration and exacerbate kidney problems, so avoid it of you have liver or kidney problems and note that it’s usually better taken after exercise rather than before.

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