American TV reporter and entertainment correspondent Joey Panek publishes a report each week on the MySunCoast website, which looks at the personalities and passions behind the biggest happenings on Florida’s Suncoast.
Interesting that his What’s Up Joey? report recently did a feature on kava, though perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised. Florida is one of the areas of the US with the highest concentration of kava bars and is also where the first US kava bar opened in 2002.
For some reason, wherever there are beaches and sunshine, you’ll find kava!
“Meet the kava root”
Panek’s report entitled “Meet the kava root” is video-based and gives people the lowdown on what they can expect from kava – including quite a bit about its health benefits.
Here are some of the highlights of what he says:
“Some herbs have staying power and every once in a while, you’ll find one so popular that it even gives way to its own community culture.. It’s time to meet the Kava root.”
“The root of the Kava plant is ground up into a fine powder, then soaked and strained into a tea. It’s said to be a natural relaxant.”
“Calming, euphoric feeling”
“’Kava is believed to be working on a part of the brain called the Limbic System which is the part that controls emotions,’ says Dr. Bart Price, MD of Manasota Medical Group in Sarasota, FL. ‘It’s giving the similar effects of alcohol where you have the calming, euphoric feeling, but supposedly it doesn’t work on your motor skills or mental acuity.’”
“Alternative to alcohol”
“Kava is often used as a social alternative to alcohol. In fact, it’s advised that the two shouldn’t be mixed.”
“Overall relaxed state of being”
“’It’s just an overall relaxed state of being…some people with anxiety issues come here to partake in it just to chill them out and relax them,’ says Ross Kashtan, owner of Bula on the Beach, a Kava bar in Madeira Beach, FL.”
“It’s a communal thing”
“’Kava isn’t something you just grab and hit the road with,’ says Kashtan. ‘It’s a communal thing. That’s what the tribesmen did on the islands. Everyone here drinks together. The bartender will make sure everyone has a shell of Kava.’ Everyone in the bar raises their bowls together and say “Bula!” as the toast.”
“All walks of life”
“The Kava community is very inclusive and that’s one of its draws. ‘When you’re here, you’ll notice that there’s all walks of life,’ says Kashtan of his patrons. ‘Young, old, black, white, gay, straight, redneck, blue collar, white collar… Everybody joins together, and everybody can just be themselves.’”
It’s great to see kava receiving more positive media coverage and people really capturing the spirit of kava in the US. Joey Panek and his interviewees did a great job of communicating the values of kava culture to Florida.