One of the reasons for kava’s growing popularity in the west is that is provides a natural alternative to two drugs that have become ‘mainstays’ of modern culture: alcohol and diazepam.
People who have either given up alcohol, don’t enjoy it, suffer from bad hangovers, or who would just rather not drink it can enjoy a similar social buzz from kava.
And those who have been taking Diazepam, Valium or any of the other spin-off benzodiazepine family of drugs that produce the trademark calming effect can find similar relief from kava; but without the same potential for addiction that the little pills carry.
The kava alternative to alcohol
As suggested by the growing popularity of kava bars in the US, large numbers of people enjoy the social side of meeting up with friends in a bar, but they don’t necessarily want to drink alcohol.
The notorious side effects of alcohol (we all know what that pounding headache and nausea feels like), not to mention the inability to drive home after consuming it, makes alcohol particularly hard for many people to justify.
In a kava bar, you get the relaxing and calming effect of kava, together with its slightly euphoric effects, while also enjoying a social experience; and with no hangover afterwards.
The owner of the Krave kava bar in Carrboro, North Carolina puts it this way:
“It gives you a sense of well-being, you feel generally good, you become less anxious, more social, relaxed.”
And some of the drinkers at her bar say:
“I like bars, I like talking to people. This provides the same environment.”
“It’s a fun alternative to going out.”
“It makes you feel really relaxed and less stressed out.”
The kava alternative to diazepam
In 2006, Valium addiction sent over 19,000 people in the US to ER; in 2010, over sixty million Valium prescriptions were written. It is one of the most used drugs in the world, both recreationally and medically (in particular for those who suffer from seizures, muscle spasm, insomnia, alcohol withdrawal, or anxiety).
The active compounds in kava (kavalactones) bind onto the brain receptors in the amygdala, which regulates feelings of fear and anxiety in a similar way to diazepam or valium; but, unlike with these prescription drugs, with kava there is no threat of addiction or other unpleasant side effects when taken in normal doses. These include driving impairment, memory loss, heart attack, hallucinations, and coma.
Consequently, there is great interest in the power of kava as a safe and natural treatment for depression, stress, restlessness, and anxiety.
Why not try kava if you are suffering side effects from your prescription anxiety medicine, or want to kick alcohol? What’s the alternative?