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By Zane Yoshida

Kava: Mental Clarity For Students

Mental clarity, good rest, stress and anxiety relief – hmmm, let’s have a little think about who could benefit from all that.

Well, I guess many of us – but in particular, one group that seems to be catching the kava craze is students.

Things can get pretty stressful for high school and college students at this time of year. We’re coming up to exam time in the U.S. and Europe, so mental clarity is essential for good performance.

A legal and safe alternative to alcohol

Of course, students are famed for their ability to socialise, which often involves intoxication in one form or another. It seems to be a rite of passage for many students – but hangovers and exams are a very poor combination.

Drinking heavily during exam time is seen by some students as a way to deal with the stress – but it does absolutely nothing for mental clarity.

Kava is a natural and safe alternative to alcohol that comes with no health warning; there is no hangover and it can actually aid mental clarity, so it could be a great accompaniment when you are revising for an exam.

It also aids sleep, so it can help you get a good night’s rest before an exam.

Kava bars and Taki Mai take aways!

There is probably a kava bar somewhere near you – as many of these alternatives to ‘standard’ bars and pubs are opening up around the country.

But what do you do when you need a shot of mental clarity while studying?

Taki Mai 3oz kava shots are just the right size to give you a kava ‘hit’ that sharpens your mind and relaxes you at the same time. The troubles of the world will ebb away while you focus only on what you need to learn; keeping a six pack in your fridge could be your little ‘secret’ during exam time!

Fijians and other South Pacific islanders have used kava for thousands of years to relax and ease stress. While it is usually used in a social setting, Taki Mai shots allow you to feel the chill anywhere, anytime.

Good luck with your exams!

By Zane Yoshida

The Kava Alternative: No Hangover…No Addiction

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?

By Zane Yoshida

Kava on Trial in 2016

A number of kava trials will be conducted in 2016, again indicating its growing profile around the world.

These studies are focused on the potential positive (and negative) effects of taking kava – and will address the types of issues we have discussed frequently on here.

Kava trials and stress relief 

Back in 2009, researcher Jerome Sarris, a PhD candidate from University of Queensland’s School of Medicine, conducted a world-first clinical trial on kava. He found it to be an effective and safe treatment option for people with chronic anxiety and varying levels of depression.

More recently, a randomized controlled trial funded by the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council is looking at the potential of kava for the treatment of generalised anxiety disorder (GAD).

GAD is a chronic condition that creates a large amount of stress and is notoriously difficult to treat. Many existing treatments have limited success and may also have undesirable side effects, so there is great interest in the ability kava to ease its symptoms.

Kava is described as a “non-addictive, non-hypnotic anxiolytic” by the study authors, who are researching the efficacy of “’aqueous noble cultivar rootstock extract’ of kava in GAD in a larger longer term study.”

Over the course of 18 weeks we will know more about the true effectiveness of kava in treating anxiety, with great hope for positive findings:

“If this study demonstrates positive findings in support of the superiority of kava over placebo in the treatment of GAD, and also is shown to be safe, then this plant-medicine can be considered a ’first-line‘ therapy for GAD. Genomic and neuroimaging data may reveal clinical response patterns and provide more evidence of the neurobiological activity of the plant extract.”

Kava trials and safety

Since the lifting of the European kava ban, there has been increased interest in proving kava’s safety beyond doubt.

It seems that everyone with a vested interest in the kava industry, as well as kava lovers worldwide, want a definitive trial that proves what they know already.

Unfortunately, trials such as these are expensive, and often require government assistance to set up.

In New Zealand it was recently announced that the Health Research Council will fund a 2-year trial that will test kava’s safety in the context of safe driving. There is some concern that the effects of taking kava may impair driving, like alcohol is known to do.

Kava has been growing more popular in New Zealand, with the study author from the University of Waikato claiming that more than 20,000 people use kava on an average Friday or Saturday night; he also claims that many kava users take well over the recommended doses and then drive, prompting concerns that they are contributing to the accident toll.

No study has ever looked at this, and there are no standard checks currently performed that detect kava use among drivers; though Pacific island governments routinely issue warnings about not overdoing the kava before driving.

The study leader said:

“The reason I wanted to do this research is that kava is critically important to us as a cultural icon. So this isn’t an anti-kava thing. This is about a practice that we have within a contemporary, mobile society.”

He pointed out that, although thousands of people died annually from smoking and alcohol, there’d not been one death anywhere in the past decade for which kava was solely to blame.

Taki Mai says…

Just like with alcohol, the key is in taking kava in moderation. Such doses of kava do not affect the motor or speech skills so that you able to speak, walk, and communicate well. The effect on driving should also be negligible with a small dose like that contained in a Taki Mai kava shot.

At Taki Mai we are confident that kava will stand up to all the tests this year – and hopefully we will start to uncover more about the array of health benefits associated with it.

By Zane Yoshida

Medicinal Kava – What Is It and Why Should You Be Excited?

Anyone casually searching for “kava” on the Web will find a few alarming stories as well as the ones which talk about the health benefits. While sometimes it seems that rather powerful forces are out to damage the good name of kava, the best way to battle this is to make kava products above suspicion.

At least that’s the route we’ve taken at South Pacific Elixirs. We are absolutely determined to play our part in getting kava the credit it deserves. That’s why we have focused on producing the best possible quality medicinal kava products that meet the exacting international processing standards.

Partnership with Douglas Pharmaceuticals

You may have read recently that we secured HACCP (“Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points”) and GMP (“Good Manufacturing Practices”) certification for the Taki Mai factory in Levuka, Fiji.

We took another important step along this path recently by partnering with Douglas Pharmaceuticals to produce pharmaceutical-grade kava for our kava powder and capsules: the latest additions to the Taki Mai range.

Douglas Pharmaceuticals is a well-established New Zealand- based company of almost 50 years. It is one of the fastest growing pharmaceutical development and manufacturing companies in Oceania, with a presence in Fiji and the United States.

Yes – It‘s really medicine!

Since we started this blog we have been stressing the health benefits of kava, especially in terms of stress and anxiety relief. Now we can really say that it’s medicine.

As the Fiji Times reported on June 18th:

“International buyers attending the Fiji Tourism Expo had the opportunity to peruse and sample medicinal kava yesterday…developed to pharmaceutical standards through Nadi-based Douglas Pharmaceuticals (Fiji) Ltd.”

Taki Mai founder Zane Yoshida says:

“Because we were working to pharmaceutical standards, we had to have approvals in place from governments we’re looking to export to, so work in progress for us was six to 12 months.

“We’ve been getting a lot of progress here in Fiji with the tourist market, but also we’re getting a lot of interest in the local market.

“At the moment, the finished products of our shots are produced offshore in the US, so we’re bringing all our products back to Fiji and partnering with Douglas Pharmaceuticals for all kava capsules and kava powder and now our kava shots as well.

“We now have three products for the Taki Mai brand and are also looking at launching a line extension to our shot in six to 12 months. We didn’t expect to expand this quickly but market response has been overwhelming.”

This is good news for kava lovers. Raising the quality of kava to meet international production standards and earn pharmaceutical grade status can only help to raise the profile of our beloved root!

By Zane Yoshida

Kava: Stress and Anxiety Relief the Natural Way

Stress is seen as a contributor to many of the major causes of death in the US – notably heart disease, stroke, some cancers and chronic lower respiratory diseases.

This post looks at how kava may be able to help in stress and anxiety relief – and therefore in the fight against such illnesses.

  Read more

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Kava: Mental Clarity For Students
The Kava Alternative: No Hangover…No Addiction
Kava on Trial in 2016
Medicinal Kava – What Is It and Why Should You Be Excited?
Kava: Stress and Anxiety Relief the Natural Way