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By Zane Yoshida

Kava and Global Wellness

Kava is increasingly getting a positive name in the global wellness community as a supplement that can bring a variety of health benefits.

More positive mentions of kava in the first few weeks of 2017 have backed up strong interest in kava last year; all the indications are that the kava industry is on the upturn.

Workshops on kava

The New Zealand press recently reported that a workshop will be set up at the University of Waikato to investigate how kava culture is growing in the country. Interestingly, it is growing not just among the many Pacific islanders who have migrated to New Zealand, but also among other ethnic groups and “non Pasifika groups”.

Over 20,000 people enjoy kava every weekend in New Zealand and so the workshop will look at how kava is being used “as an alcohol substitute, stress reliever or sleep aid.”

Let’s look at each of those a little closer.

Kava as an alcohol substitute

If the number of kava bars opening in the US is anything to go by, then more people are turning to kava as a substitute for alcohol.

In fact, the Business Mirror reported recently in its story 2017 Trends: Wellness in the New Year:

 “As people move away from alcohol in 2017, a new social lubricator is taking its place. Kava root originates in the South Pacific and is still an important social ritual in many traditional cultures. The root powder is made into a beverage, and promotes mild feelings of euphoria, relaxation and happiness. Kava bars, although common in other areas of the world are starting to become trendy in North America, popping up in New York, Los Angeles, Miami just to name a few cities.”

It goes on to say:

“Because Kava’s effects are mild, and the hangover non-existent, it fits with the other trends in 2017 of move more towards an overall healthier lifestyle. It also is a good social lubricator and stress reliever, another plus when we consider the new trends moving towards less alcohol and more sobriety.”

Kava as a stress reliever

Clinical studies have shown that kava is a safe and effective treatment for mild and ‘generalized’ anxiety and more tests are currently underway.

For instance, a study led by Jerome Sarris in Australia, in 2011, found:

“The current weight of evidence supports the use of kava in treatment of anxiety with a significant result occurring in four out of six studies reviewed.”

These results are especially interesting given the harsh possible side effects of some commonly prescribed anti-anxiety medication.

Elsewhere, there are plenty of observational reports about the calming effects of kava. This one was included in a recent article entitled Buzzy Beverages: 3 Ancient Libations To Take The Edge Off Modern Times:

“kava lactones give this de-stress beverage its anti-anxiety, muscle relaxing and analgesic qualities. After my second cup of kava, my mouth felt tingly, I had warm, relaxed sensations in my body and was extremely content in the present moment.”

Kava as a sleep aid

Because of its relaxing effects on the body and the mind, kava is often equated with helping people sleep. There was good example of this recently in an article called 3 Natural Sleep Aids that Work:

“The plant’s roots have traditionally been known for their sedative and anaesthetic properties. The plant’s active ingredients are called kavalactones. Studies have shown kava to be effective in the treatment of tension and anxiety. If you take to bed with you the stresses of the day, kava can act as a welcome addition to your pre-bed rituals.”

Kava has an important part to play in global wellness. More positive articles appearing in the press about kava are an indication that the message is finally getting through…

By Zane Yoshida

It’s Kava – not Cava!

In Europe, there is sometimes a little confusion between the drinks kava and cava – so we’d like to clear things up once and for all.

If you read this blog regularly then you already know the difference, so feel free to skip this! This one is intended for newcomers to kava, who are not really too sure what it is.

What is kava?

Kava is the dried root of the piper methysticum plant, which grows all around the Pacific area. You may find it prepared as a murky-brown beverage or mixed with juices or syrup. Traditionally it is drunk out of a coconut shell but nowadays you will find it bottled and available online or on health supermarket shelves.

It can also be found in health stores in powder or capsule form, depending on where you live. Just take a look around this website to find out more.

Remember that kava is non-alcoholic, but has mild sedative properties that can help with stress, anxiety, rest, and mental clarity.

What is cava?

Cava is often called ‘Spanish Champagne’ but technically it should not be termed as such because ‘Champagne’ has Protected Geographical Status under European Law.

It is a drink that has become popular in the UK and around Europe, following in the footsteps of Prosecco, which is sometimes considered the Italian equivalent of cava.

Cava is a sparkling wine that mainly comes from Catalonia and may be white, or rose, and must be produced in the traditional champenoise way.

Interestingly, in Spain it has traditionally been consumed at celebrations like marriages, banquets, dinners and parties: just like kava!

There is certainly plenty of room on this planet for both kava and cava lovers – but be sure you are talking about the right one when it comes up in conversation!

By Zane Yoshida

Stronger Than Winston!

Tropical cyclone Winston, which hit Fiji on 20th Feb was strong! In fact it was officially Fiji’s strongest ever cyclone. But it wasn’t as strong as the spirit of the Fijian people.

The storm caused an estimated $200 million worth of damage, killing 43 people, taking communications down completely on six islands for days, and temporarily taking power down for 90% of the country’s residents. For many it was catastrophic and the cleanup process will take months, if not years.

The island of Ovalau, where Taki Mai is based, was also hit badly – as this personal account from an Al Jazeera reporter explains. There were several deaths on the island and many houses destroyed, and the cost to the local economy is still being counted; 80% of residents have been displaced for now.

The Taki Mai factory and nurseries were hit too – as you can see from the picture at the top of the page. But perhaps we got off lightly; we have been rebuilding and production will start again very soon.

Around  the country, similar cleanup efforts have been underway.

With all the stress and anxiety caused by the damage in the past few weeks, it’s good to know that we have our international friends to help us out – plus a little bit of kava to help us all relax again.

We stand with the people of Fiji to show that we are stronger than Winston!

UPDATE! Sunday 20th March.

Just to let all readers know that we are back in business on Ovalau. The rebuilding work at Taki Mai is complete and our kava shots, capsules, and powder are all back in production.

By Zane Yoshida

Choose Your Relaxation Elixir

Perhaps it’s a measure of the stressful lives that many people lead nowadays, that there is such a demand for relaxation beverages, come the evening time.

Work and social lives means many of us are running around with barely enough time to throw a meal together, so it’s no wonder that stress levels are through the roof and diet-related health conditions are on the up. What’s the answer?

  Read more

By Zane Yoshida

A Traveller’s View of Kava

Following on from last week’s blog post about an American herbalist’s view of kava, how does a newcomer to the South Pacific and to kava react to the experience of taking it for the first time?

There was an interesting report at the end of last year in the Fiji Times called Moving to Fiji and letting go of my inhibitions. The story was about a female American Peace Corps volunteer who travelled to Fiji and immersed herself in Fijian life for a year.

Here are some of her most interesting observations about landing in Fiji and, in particular, sampling kava for the first time:

The sevu- sevu arrival ceremony

“After arriving in our respective training villages, the volunteers headed to the community hall to offer kava for a sevu- sevu ceremony, a ritual to welcome us to the village.”

Fijian greeting

“Once the kava was consumed, we were introduced to our host families. My host mother greeted me with a sniff kiss, which is customarily done by the women.”

After dinner

“Once the food was gone, it was back to drinking kava, or ‘grog’ as they call it.”

The taste and effects of traditional kava

“In Fiji, kava is pounded and mixed in with water. When mixed, kava looks like murky water. When consumed, kava tastes like muddy water, and makes your tongue go numb. To feel the sedative properties of kava, you must consume bilo vaka levu (many bowls).”

How kava is served

“The kava is mixed in a bowl called a tanoa and served out of coconut shells. In Fijian culture, you clap once to receive the bowl of grog, drink it in its entirety, then return the bowl and clap three times.”

The men and the women

“During the grog session, the men were in a smaller circle in the back of the community hall playing guitars and ukuleles and singing.”

Breaking down the barriers

“Through dancing and drinking grog, I was able to break down barriers and integrate into my community.”

“Getting out of my comfort zone, out of my head, and embracing the embarrassment, laughter, and ridiculousness of it all allowed me to learn how to connect and live in Fiji.”

Sounds like she enjoyed herself!

Another recent report in the Huffington Post Travel section also shared a few thoughts about Fijian culture and kava drinking for tourists planning to head there:

“Guests at the resorts spend lots of time flaked out on the properties’ powdery white beaches when they’re not wandering around spouting off newly learned Fijian words like bula (boola, meaning hello or welcome) to anyone within earshot.  Other popular attractions at the resorts are ceremonies in which guests down bowls of kava (a mild narcotic drink tasting much like mud) against a background of traditional hand-clapping and shouts of — you guessed it – bula.”

Thinking of travelling to Fiji? You probably won’t be able to avoid a kava ceremony of some sort. Even if you don’t plan on going to Fiji, you can enjoy the relaxing and calming benefits of kava in your own home – through Taki Mai kava shots, kava powder, and kava capsules. None of which taste like “mud” or “muddy water” you’ll be pleased to hear!

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Kava and Global Wellness
It’s Kava – not Cava!
Stronger Than Winston!
Choose Your Relaxation Elixir
A Traveller’s View of Kava